HCMS Winnipeg Navy Ship at Shipbuilders' Pier

Canadian Navy ships visit Vancouver occasionally, including on a weekend in early May. They usually dock at the Shipyards on the North Shore.

When in town, the vessels typically set up along the Burrard Dry Dock Pier in the Lower Lonsdale neighbourhood of North Vancouver. The dock is also commonly called Shipbuilders’ Pier. On occasion, the ships are open to the public to explore. Sometimes visiting navies from other countries do the same.

In 2024, Canadian Navy ships are in North Vancouver from May 3rd to 5th.

This article describes what happens when navy ships visit the Vancouver region. It also has information about HMCS Discovery which is a navy training base at Stanley Park.

 

Royal Canadian International Circus

 

Navy Ships in North Vancouver

In 2024, a couple of ships from the Canadian Navy are at the Shipyards in North Vancouver for Fleet Week. They are in town from May 3rd to 5th for people to admire. The public can even go on board and explore the vessels. There are also rides on inflatable boats. The tours and boat rides are free and can be booked online.

Below is the schedule of activities for the 2024 event. To register for the free tours and boat rides, visit the Canadian Navy‘s website.

 

Friday, May 3rd, 2024

  • HMCS Vancouver Ship Tours (From 4:00 to 8:00 pm)
  • ORCA Ship Tours (From 4:00 to 8:00 pm)
  • Boat Rides in Rigid Inflatable Vessels (From 4:00 to 7:30 pm)
  • Equipment and Interactive Displays (4:00 to 8:00 pm)

 

Saturday, May 4th, 2024

  • HMCS Vancouver Ship Tours (From 12:00 to 6:00 pm)
  • HMCS Edmonton Ship Tours (From 12:00 to 6:00 pm)
  • ORCA Ship Tours (From 12:00 to 6:00 pm)
  • Boat Rides in Rigid Inflatable Vessels (From 12:00 to 5:30 pm)
  • Equipment and Interactive Displays (12:00 to 6:00 pm)

 

Sunday, May 5th, 2024

  • Battle of the Atlantic Ceremony (From 11:00 am to 12:00 pm)
  • HMCS Vancouver Ship Tours (From 12:00 to 5:00 pm)
  • HMCS Edmonton Ship Tours (From 12:00 to 5:00 pm)
  • ORCA Ship Tours (From 12:00 to 5:00 pm)

 

Chilliwack Party in the Park

2024 Cloverdale Rodeo

 

Naval Ships & Burrard Dry Dock Pier

Why do visiting naval vessels use North Vancouver’s Burrard Dry Dock Pier when they visit Metro Vancouver as opposed to other facilities like at Canada Place (where Cruise Ships dock at)? It’s because the pier in North Vancouver has only a limited number of posts in the water. The docks at Canada Place, on the other hand, have dozens if not hundreds of posts, plus various other structures submerged under the water as part of their engineering design.

When navy ships visit a port, for security reasons, naval dive teams have to search and secure the area before the arrival of the vessel. Scuba divers must check behind every pole and structure to ensure the area is safe (and that no mines or other hostile objects have been placed there). The underwater areas of the Burrard Dry Dock Pier are easy to inspect. Canada Place, on the other hand, is anything but!

Naval ships don’t dock in North Vancouver very often. When they do, however, the public is often welcome to go aboard for tours. This includes both Canadian ships and foreign ones visiting from abroad.

 

HMCS Discovery on Stanley Park

His Majesty’s Canadian ship (HMCS) Discovery Naval Reserve is located on Deadman’s Island in Coal Harbour which is just off the Stanley Park Seawall. The address is 1200 Stanley Park Drive in Vancouver. You’ll know you’re at the Naval Reserve when you see the Brockton Playing Fields and the Brockton Pavilion which are right across the street.

To get to the HMCS Discovery Naval Reserve when there’s an open house, you have to drive through Stanley Park via Stanley Park Drive, the entrance of which is at Georgia Street. At the traffic circle, take the first right which takes you to Stanley Park Drive. Carry on Stanley Park Drive for about five to ten minutes until you reach the HMCS Discovery entrance. It’s on your right.

Generally, people aren’t allowed to visit the HMCS Discovery Naval Reserve as it’s an active naval training base. However, every now and then the Naval Reserve is open to the public for educational guided tours. An interesting fact about the Reserve’s name, Discovery, is that it was named after Captain George Vancouver’s ship, Discovery.

 

Other Information

For more information about Fleet Week, see the Government of Canada‘s website.

To learn more about the areas around the Burrard Dry Dock Pier and HMCS Discovery, check out the following articles:

Other articles that might be of interest include the following: