Four Royal Canadian Navy ships are in town at the State Ports Authority's Union Pier.

The vessels, docked in downtown Charleston, are on the southernmost leg of a training exercise, said Jeri Grychowski, a Canadian Navy spokeswoman in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

They left port in Canada on Nov. 21 and probably will stay here through the weekend before heading north, she said.

"It's just a way for the sailors to keep up their skills and to put the sailors through their paces," Grychowski said.

The vessels are the destroyer Iroquois and the frigates St. John's, Montreal and Charlottetown, she said.

At sea, the vessels run through a number of scenarios, she said.

Fully loaded, the destroyer carries 250 sailors and the frigates 220 sailors, she said.

Grychowski said she was not sure how many sailors were on board the ships.

Canada has 33 warships, submarines and coastal defense vessels divided more or less evenly between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The home ports of the fleet are in Halifax and Esquimalt, British Columbia, according to the Canadian Navy website.

Joint Base Charleston provided ramps for the ships to use while in port, a spokesperson said.

The Iroquois, commissioned in 1972, has two sister ships in the Canadian fleet, the Athabaskan and the Algonquin, according to the Iroquois website.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House next week, when they are expected to announce an agreement to enhance border security and trade and discuss the delay of a proposed oil pipeline from Canada, The Associated Press reported Friday.

Andrew MacDougall, Harper's spokesman, said Friday the prime minister will travel to Washington on Wednesday to discuss economic competitiveness, trade and security, the AP reported.