Fleet review (Commonwealth realms)

This article is about reviews of naval ships in Commonwealth realms. For fleet reviews of the United States Navy, see Naval Review. For other uses, see Review (disambiguation).
HMS Terrible at Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee Fleet Review in 1897

A fleet review is a traditional gathering of ships from a particular navy to be observed by the reigning monarch or his or her 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. However, 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.


Ships in Jervis Bay prepare for the fleet review in Sydney Harbour, 2 October 2013

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


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

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

United Kingdom

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 at Spithead, 1773

Queen Victoria

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

The Shah of Persia's visit in 1876 - HMS Duke of Wellington, then the flagship at Portsmouth, may be seen in the left foreground.
Diamond Jubilee review 26 June 1897

Edward VII

One of the lines of battleships at the 1909 review.

George V

"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

HMS Nelson with other British battleships and cruisers for the 1937 Cornation Fleet Review

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" 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.

The sole U.S. Navy representative was USS New York, which had brought Admiral Hugh Rodman, the President's personal representative for the coronation, across the Atlantic.

Germany was represented by the new pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee, and the Empire of Japan sent heavy cruiser Ashigara to attend the ceremony.

Elizabeth II

HMAS Melbourne at the 1977 Spithead Review; HMS Ark Royal is behind
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with Admiral Sir Alan West on board HMS Endurance


  1. Royal Australian Navy "RAN IFR 2013" Check |url= value (help). Royal Australian Navy. Retrieved 9 July 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 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, 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 June 21, 2010. Retrieved 15 June 2010.
  5. "Naval Spectacle At Spithead". The Times (40580). London. 1914-07-20. p. 9.
  6. Souvenir Programme, Coronation Review of the Fleet, Spithead, 15th June 1953, HMSO, Gale and Polden
  7. Official Souvenir Programme, 1977. Silver Jubilee Fleet Review, HMSO

External links

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