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How to get on a boat
You can tour dozens of ships in town, but be careful what you bring aboard
Halifax International Fleet Review means more navy ships will be coming into the harbour than the average person can keep track of. The event’s website (see tinyurl.com/ShipsGalore) has a list of all the ships, detailing a short biographical history and statistics for each vessel, including what kind of weaponry the ships carry. There’ll be at least 12 ships from Canadian Forces Base Halifax to gaze at from the Harbour and even to board! Tours are on June 26-27 and June 30-July 1, 10am-4pm. Check the website to see when and where you can pretend you’re a sailor or just get a feel for the seafaring life aboard HMCS Athabaskan, HMCS Toronto and HMCS Goose Bay.
There’ll also be ships visiting from around the world. Six ships will be sailing in from the United States, two from Denmark, four from the United Kingdom, one from France, one from Brazil, two from Germany and one from The Netherlands. The American ships available for viewing are USS Wasp, USS Barry, USS Gettysburg and USS RG.Bradley. All four ships from the United Kingdom are open for tours: RFA Fort George, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Sutherland and HMS Liverpool. From Denmark, viewers can hop aboard HDMS Ejnar Mikkelsen; from Brazil, BNS Frigate Independencia; from The Netherlands, HNLMS Amsterdam and from Germany, FGS Karlsruhe.
Just remember to leave any contraband or weaponry at home; there is a screening process before going on board. Bring a camera to document the experience, a hat and water to bear the potential heat, but leave behind any booze, strollers, big bags, large coats and, of course, that AK-47 you were hoping to show off. And don’t forget to ask the sailors for historical tidbits and interesting facts about their ships. For example, HMCS Fredericton played a key role in helping the RCMP with an over $200 million Canadian drug bust off the coast of Angola about four years ago. In 2009, HMCS Halifax had the first woman to command a major Canadian navy warship as its commander in 2009. Neither of these ships are available for tours, but every ship has some story just waiting to be told.