Fleet review

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A crowd gathers to watch the Republic of Korea Navy fleet review, held in commemoration of the navy's 70th anniversary in 2015

A fleet review or naval review is an event where a gathering of ships from a particular navy is paraded and reviewed by an incumbent head of state and/or other official civilian and military dignitaries. A number of national navies continue to hold fleet reviews. Fleet reviews may also include participants and warships from multiple navies.

Commonwealth realms[edit]

Fleet reviews in the Commonwealth realms are typically observed by the reigning monarch or their representative, a practice allegedly dating back to the 15th century. Such an event is not held at regular intervals and originally only occurred when the fleet was mobilised for war or for a show of strength to discourage potential enemies, or during periods of commemorations. Since the 19th century, they have often been held for the coronation or for special royal jubilees and increasingly included delegates from other national navies.


Three frigates of the Royal Australian Navy enter Sydney Harbour during the second day of the 2013 International Fleet Review in Australia

Australia has a history of Fleet Reviews, the last Fleet Review took place in Australia in October 2013.


Queen Elizabeth II in Halifax, Nova Scotia a day prior to reviewing the fleet assembled there to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Navy

In Canada, fleet reviews may take place on either the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, typically in Halifax Harbour for the former and Victoria Harbour for the latter.

New Zealand[edit]

There have been several Fleet Reviews hosted by the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN). These include the following:

  • International Fleet Review, 5 October 1991, to mark the 50th anniversary of the RNZN.
  • International Naval Review, 18 November 2016, to mark the Royal New Zealand Navy's 75th birthday. In a break with tradition the RNZN mistakenly described the Review as a "Naval Review" rather than as the customary "Fleet Review".

United Kingdom[edit]

Because of the need for a natural large, sheltered and deep anchorage, UK fleet reviews have usually been held in the Solent off Spithead, although Southend, Torbay, the Firth of Clyde and some overseas ports have also hosted reviews. In the examples below, the venue is Spithead unless otherwise noted.

A list follows of fleet reviews in England, Great Britain, and later the UK since the 14th century.



King George III reviewing the fleet from rowboats (centre foreground) at Spithead, 1773

Queen Victoria[edit]

17 occurred during her reign, the most for any monarch.

Fleet review during the Shah of Persia's visit in 1876. HMS Duke of Wellington, then the flagship at Portsmouth, may be seen in the left foreground.
  • March 1842, her first, held by herself and Prince Albert as a "Grand Naval Review."
  • 1844, May - visit of the King of Saxony; and October, on the visit of Emperor Nicholas I, King Louis-Philippe of France and Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, both were a show of strength
  • 19 June 1845, inspecting the experimental squadron, from the new HMY Victoria and Albert (1843). The Board of Admiralty attended in their steam yacht, Black Eagle. Some place this not 1814 as the last time that a Royal Review consisted only of sailing ships, and nearly the last time that the Queen could watch HMS Trafalgar's men run aloft and set the sails "with feline agility and astonishing celerity."
  • 11 August 1853, fleet mobilisation for Crimean War,[5] including for the first time steam screw ships of the line.
  • 10 March 1854. Wary of a Russian break out into the North Sea, due to the numbers of their ships in the Baltic Sea, the British Admiralty brought together a force to contain them. This first division of the Baltic fleet was commanded by Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier. Napier's task was to find naval recruits and train them as quickly as possible. From the screw yacht-tender, HMS Fairy, and two months before her 35th birthday (which it was perhaps also intended to commemorate), Queen Victoria reviewed Napier's fleet at Spithead, shortly before it set sail, including (on 10 March 1854) a review of the first part of the fleet to set sail only eighteen days before Britain declared war on Russia. According to reports in the London Illustrated News (which printed a special edition for the occasion, with drawings of various scenes from the day of the Review), Fairy reviewed the fleet as it steamed up a path created by the ships anchored on each side, then a day later led the fleet out of Spithead as it began its journey to the Baltic.
  • 23 April 1856, of the Baltic fleet on its return. First recorded example of the evening illumination of the fleet. Showed lessons learnt from the Crimean War, with the first of the ironclad ships present in the form of 4 1,500-ton floating batteries. Over 100 gunboats were present, "puffing about like locomotive engines with wisps of white steam trailing from their funnels."
  • August 1865, on visit of the French fleet
  • 17 July 1867, held for Abd-ul-Aziz, Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and his Khedive of Egypt, Ismail of Egypt. For the first time every ship flew the White Ensign, after the dissolution of the old Red, White and Blue Squadrons. New designs were the five-masted HMS Minotaur with her powerful broadside, and the graceful 14-knot ironclad sister-ships HMS Warrior and HMS Black Prince.
Fleet review during the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria on 26 June 1897
  • May/June 1873, for the visit of Nasser-al-Din Shah (1848–1896), the Shah of Persia
  • August 1878, of the reserve squadron
  • 25 July 1887, Golden Jubilee. Notable for the appearance of a Nordenfelt submarine (though the first RN submarine would be Holland 1 20 years later)
  • 4 August 1889, on the visit of Kaiser Wilhelm II and his Admiral von Tirpitz, a show of strength
  • August 1891, on visit of the French fleet
  • August 1896, on visit of MPs and Li Hung Chang
  • 26 June 1897, Diamond Jubilee, notable for being presided over by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) since she was too frail to attend in person. The ships formed two lines seven miles long; the 170 British ships included 50 battleships. Parsons made an unscheduled and dramatic appearance with his Turbinia showing power of steam turbine.
  • August 1899, her last, notable for being presided over by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) since she was too frail to attend in person, and for the visit of a squadron from the German Navy.

Edward VII[edit]

Lines of battleships at the 1909 review of the Home and Atlantic Fleet
  • 16 August 1902, Coronation Review, the first time in the modern era that a review was used to mark the coronation
  • 9 August 1905, review of the British and French fleets by King Edward VII at Spithead
  • August 1907, review of the reconstituted Home Fleet
  • 12 June 1909, review of Home Fleet and Atlantic Fleet, including HMS Invincible
  • 16 July 1909, Home and Atlantic fleets assemble off Southend prior to display[citation needed] Southend, including HMS Invincible
  • 17–24 July 1909, Home and Atlantic Fleets on display from Westminster to the Nore.

George V[edit]

Arrival of the Fleet for the Coronation Review by A. B. Cull. The painting depicts the arrival of the fleet at Spithead to celebrate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911
"Turned out at 0545 and scrubbed focsle…after breakfast we gave all the brightwork a final polish and generally cleaned up… after lunch we fell in on deck ... All the ships with saluting guns fired a royal salute of 21 guns the noise was not as bad as we were led to expect. But the smoke screened most of the ships for some minutes… After tea ‘Clean Lower Deck’ was sounded and we had to fall in for manning ship my position on Y Turret grid on the Quarter Deck was an excellent one as we could see the yacht approaching… as the V&A approached the band played ‘God Save the King’ and the guard presented arms in the Royal Salute. When the King was halfway past we gave 3 cheers. You could just see the King on the Bridge, Saluting …About ½ hour later we fell in again as he passed the other side.
After supper we watched the illuminations… after half hour all the lights were turned off and red flares were lit on deck, each held by a sailor at the guardrail. These did not look very good except for the first few seconds… the ships remained illuminated for the rest of the time until midnight... We turned in about 2345 very tired.

George VI[edit]

A fleet of assault landing crafts pass HMS Bulolo during naval exercises in 1944. King George VI is aboard the Bulolo, saluting as the fleet of LCAs passes by.

The Review Procession included the royal yacht, HMY Victoria and Albert, two minesweepers and a survey ship. The Commonwealth and Empire were represented by two warships from Canada and one each from New Zealand and India. A large complement of British merchant ships ranging from ocean liners to paddle steamers were also present.[8]

By tradition, foreign navies were invited to send a single warship each to the review and seventeen were present.[8] Notable among them were USS New York, which had brought Admiral Hugh Rodman, the President's personal representative for the coronation, across the Atlantic; the new French battleship Dunkerque; and the elderly Soviet Marat. Also present were the formidable looking German "pocket battleship", Admiral Graf Spee, the Greek cruiser, Georgios Averof and the Japanese heavy cruiser, Ashigara.[9]

Described by one naval officer in a letter to a friend -

"The day was quite as bad as I feared but my sisters are insistent that they enjoyed it all"

It was also the occasion of the infamous "Woodrooffe Incident" [1] [2] in the BBC Radio coverage (known by the phrase 'The Fleet's Lit Up!')

HMY Victoria and Albert III took part in this review, her second and last before being scrapped in 1939.

  • 9 August 1939, including HMS Revenge
  • May 1944, in secret, of the D-Day invasion fleet - the largest review to date (800 vessels, ranging from capital vessels to small minesweeper and landing craft).

Elizabeth II[edit]

Sailors of the USS Baltimore man the rails during the 1953 fleet review for the coronation of Elizabeth II


Destroyers of the JMSDF during rehearsals for the 2009 fleet review

Since 1956, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has hosted a fleet review approximately every three years in Sagami Bay. The Imperial Japanese Navy had historically held fleet reviews from 1869 to 1940.

The Japan Coast Guard last held a fleet review in 2018 in honor of the JCG's 70th anniversary.

South Korea[edit]

In October 1998, the Republic of Korea Navy hosted its first international fleet review in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Republic of Korea off the coast of Busan. They have since reconvened every 10 years on the 60th and 70th anniversaries in 2008 and 2018.

21 ships from 11 countries (Australia, Bangladesh, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States) participated in the first fleet review together with 34 ships and 15 aircraft from South Korea.

United States[edit]

The United States Navy has hosted several naval reviews, with ships paraded by the navy reviewed by the president of the United States or the United States Secretary of the Navy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "RAN IFR 2013". Royal Australian Navy. Archived from the original on 28 June 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Canadian Press (29 June 2010), "Queen reviews rare warship flotilla to mark navy's centenary", Toronto Star, retrieved 29 June 2010
  3. ^ DeRosa, Katie (12 June 2010), "Governor General conducts fleet review to mark navy centennial", National Post, archived from the original on 16 June 2010, retrieved 13 June 2010
  4. ^ Government of Canada. "2010 Royal Tour > Itinerary for 2010 Royal Tour of Canada". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 21 June 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2004-12-30. Retrieved 2006-02-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Naval Spectacle At Spithead". The Times. No. 40580. London. 1914-07-20. p. 9.
  7. ^ Willmott, H P (2010) The Last Century of Sea Power: From Washington to Tokyo, 1922–1945, Indiana University Press, ISBN 978-0-253-35214-9 (pp. 24–25)
  8. ^ a b Willmott, p. 34
  9. ^ Willmott, p.28
  10. ^ Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  11. ^ Coronation Spithead Review (1953). Royal Navy. 1953.
  12. ^ Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO

External links[edit]