Post-war, the Royal Canadian Navy took over the US Navy's flying boat facility, naming it HMCS Shearwater, also known as Royal Canadian Naval Air Station Shearwater (RCNAS Shearwater).
The combined land and sea-based aerodromes were used to station carrier-based maritime patrol and fighter aircraft. Shearwater was also the home to early experiments with ship-borne helicopters—something which was copied by navies around the world. During the 1960s, the aerodrome at the former RCAF Station Debert was attached to RCAF Station Shearwater as a training location for carrier landings.
The February 1, 1968 unification of the three service branches into the Canadian Forces saw RCAF Station Shearwater (and RCNAS Shearwater) change its name to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Shearwater. Upon the stand up of 12 Wing Shearwater in the 1990's it became a lodger unit of Formation CFB Halifax, and CFB Shearwater officially ceased to exist.
Over the years the airport was scaled back with only runway 10/28 remaining open and surplus land being turned over to Canada Lands. In July 2007 runway 10H/28H was reduced in length to the east end only and 16H/34H was reopened, for helicopter operations only, to allow for operations (including instrument approaches) to continue during "existing runway and two taxiways will be reconstructed and resurfaced to provide a new landing area and taxiways and the construction of other facilities. These new facilities were open 31 July 2008, consisting of a new 16H/34H and various helipads, for helicopter operations only. The old 16/34 has been permanently closed and is now east of the main fenceline, as shown in the Canada Flight Supplement effective 31 July 2008. However, an article in The Chronicle-Herald states that the longer runway is contained within a parcel of land currently owned by Canada Lands Company. The article goes on to say that DND is considering reacquiring this parcel, although there are no plans to reopen the longer runway.
12 Wing Shearwater's primary mission remains as a heliport, used by the Canadian Navy's east coast shipborne helicopter fleet. 12 Wing currently operates the CH124 Sea King but will transition to the CH148 Cyclone commencing in 2009. There are currently numerous construction projects ongoing, including the Maritime Helicopter Training Center where 406 Sqn will be located, a new 423 Squadron hangar facility, a new 12 AMS facility with 6 bays, and a new Operational Support Facility where HOTEF and various Wing functions will be located, and municipal services upgrades.
The Shearwater Aviation Museum is located on base and documents Canada's naval aviation heritage.
Shearwater is the headquarters of 12 Wing, whose sole purpose is to support and operate shipborne helicopters for the Canadian Forces Maritime Command.
12 Wing operates out of two locations with four squadrons: