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Whether it is to support Canada’s vital commercial fishing industry, maritime transportation and shipping, tourism, or the country’s millions of recreational boaters, CCG is always there and ready to serve. Its distinctive ships, hovercraft, helicopters, and small vessels are strategically positioned across our vast coastal nation, providing services to all Canadians. The professional and dedicated women and men of the Coast Guard are the stewards of Canada’s strong maritime tradition and support all federal government maritime priorities. CCG professionals work tirelessly in all conditions, providing a strong federal presence to protect our citizens, our waters, and the natural resources of our marine environment.

CCG’s fleet of vessels and helicopters, managed and operated by Fleet Headquarters and Regional Fleet Directorates across Canada, is playing an evolving role in the world’s longest coastline, largest freshwater system, and longest inland waterway, including Canada’s 3.7-million-km2 exclusive economic zone. The Fleet has the Government of Canada’s only icecapable vessels that can navigate the treacherous ice in the waters of the Arctic, the Newfoundland coasts, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the Great Lakes. Our uniformed officers and crew provide Canadians with an immediate sense of security when they arrive on the scene, whether in the course of their regular duties or during an emergency.

CCGS Cap Tourmente, SAR Lifeboat
CCGS Cap Tourmente, SAR Lifeboat
Photo: P. Dionne, DFO

On any given day, CCG:

  • Saves eight lives;
  • Assists 55 people in 19 search and rescue (SAR) cases;
  • Handles 1,547 marine radio contacts;
  • Manages 2,325 commercial ship movements;
  • Services 60 aids to navigation;
  • Surveys five km of navigation channel bottom;
  • Deals with three reported pollution events;
  • Escorts four commercial ships through ice;
  • Carries out 12 fisheries patrols;
  • Supports eight scientific missions; and
  • Supports three hydrographic missions.

The Coast Guard’s mandate is derived from the Constitution Act of 1867, which gives the federal government exclusive authority over navigation, shipping, beacons, buoys, lighthouses, and Sable Island. Although CCG has existed in some form for many decades, the Oceans Act, 1996 and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 confirm its specific mandate. The Canada Shipping Act confers on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans responsibilities, powers, and obligations with respect to aids to navigation, Sable Island, SAR, environmental response (ER), and vessel traffic services. The Oceans Act confers on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans responsibility for services for the safe, economical, and efficient movement of ships in Canadian waters, through the provision of aids to navigation, marine communications and traffic management services, icebreaking and ice management services, and channel maintenance. It also gives the Minister responsibility for SAR, ER, and support of other government departments (OGD), boards, and agencies through the provision of ships, helicopters, and other services.

Set Sail with the Canadian Coast Guard

To mark the 400th-anniversary celebrations in Quebec City, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) presented an exhibit on the CCG highlighting its contribution to the provincial capital’s history and development. Between June 21 and September 1, 2008, the Passages exhibit drew more than 4,000 visitors to the Coast Guard’s base at Quebec City. Through artifacts, photographs, and texts, visitors learned of CCG’s contribution to the city’s growth and the development of navigation along the St. Lawrence River. Theme rooms and an interpretive program also described CCG’s current-day activities.

Passages Exhibit
Passages Exhibit
Photo: J. Beardsell, DFO

Nearly a hundred visitors attended a series of free lectures to find out more about CCG. Enthusiastic experts spoke on topics such as life on board a ship, Arctic research, the secrets of the St. Lawrence, ER, electronic navigation, marine traffic management, and SAR.

Without a doubt, Quebec City’s 400th anniversary was an excellent opportunity to highlight the Coast Guard’s historical significance and promote its career opportunities.


As owner and operator of the Government of Canada’s civilian fleet, the Coast Guard serves clients in all sectors of the Canadian economy: the general public, commercial carriers and shippers, ferry operators, fishers, recreational boaters, coastal communities, and other government departments and agencies. As CCG’s on-water delivery agent, the Fleet provides vessels and maritime professionals to:

  • Deliver on-water CCG services related to SAR, maritime security, ER, icebreaking, flood control, aids to navigation, and marine communications and traffic services;
  • Respond to federal maritime priorities and natural or man-made emergencies as a key player in various activities mandated under the Federal Emergency Response Plan;
  • Participate in national and international planning and exercises related to ER and SAR;
  • Support DFO science activities and the conservation and protection of fishery resources;
  • Support the on-water needs of OGDs such as Natural Resources Canada and Environment Canada; and
  • Support the non-military activities of the Department of National Defence (DND), Canadian Border Services Agency, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and Transport Canada (TC).

Graph 1 outlines the distribution of Fleet clients in 2008–2009. It shows that 68% of our services are dedicated to CCG programs, the largest being SAR services. Other programs in this category include Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS), ER, Aids to Navigation, and Icebreaking. The other 32% of our services are dedicated to Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (FAM), Science, OGDs, and Maritime Security.

Graph 1: Distribution of Fleet Charts, 2008-2009

Transforming a Relationship: Implementing Service Level Agreements

The Fleet manages its client relationships using interdepartmental memoranda of understanding or internal service level agreements (SLA). This year, the Fleet focused on finalizing SLAs with DFO’s Science and FAM sectors, allowing for a renewed and sound approach to our business relationships. These agreements better outline our service commitments to our clients and provide a common understanding of responsibilities, funding, governance and accountability, services, priorities, risks, and performance measures.

2008–2009 Results
Signed two SLAs with the Fleet’s core clients, DFO Science and FAM, in April 2009
Stabilized $60 million in funding per year for Fleet services

These SLAs, in effect until March 2012, are the cornerstone of the Fleet’s Operational Readiness Business Model. Operational readiness ensures that CCG has the resources, decision-making support, and capacity to meet the on-water and marine-related needs of its clients both now and in the future.

Hosting the World: Vancouver 2010 Winter Games

Canada is preparing to host the world in Vancouver, BC, during the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February and March of 2010. Because the 2010 Winter Games involve venues and celebration sites along Vancouver’s waterfront, the Coast Guard, under the RCMP’s leadership, is involved in collaborative planning with OGDs to ensure the safety and security of those who will attend this global event.

Contingency planning began in 2007 to ensure that CCG can adapt to changing conditions prior to and during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The Olympic Marine Operations Centre has been created in Pacific Region to coordinate efforts. At Headquarters, CCG and DFO have also created Fisheries and Oceans’ Coordinated Olympic Support Centre (FOCOS). The FOCOS will be the prime point of contact with the Government Operations Centre for Olympic issues related to the DFO. It will provide daily briefings on Olympic-related operations and will be a conduit for information and decision support.

Vancouver 2010

In the spring of 2008, CCG participated in Exercise Silver, which tested various response scenarios should a natural disaster or security event occur during the 2010 Winter Games.We will also participate in Exercise Gold, which will be held in the fall of 2009 and will combine best practices and lessons learned from previous exercises to confirm response plans, thereby contributing to the Government’s overall readiness to provide a safe and secure environment for this important event.


As Canada’s only federal civilian fleet, the Coast Guard must always be ready to undertake marine missions in the service of the people and Government of Canada, often in some of the most hostile weather conditions on the planet. Over the course of a year, the personnel can face many challenges including:

  • Air temperatures ranging from –40°C to +40°C;
  • Water temperatures ranging from –2°C to +30°C;
  • A wide variety of ice conditions;
  • Gale or hurricane-force winds;
  • Waves that can exceed 20 m in height; and
  • Operations in remote locations and uncharted areas.

The Fleet fulfills its diverse responsibilities by being versatile, proactive, and highly adaptable. It operates out of five regions, with each Regional Operations Centre (ROC) tasking and deploying vessels according to the Fleet Operations Plan so as to fulfill our service commitments and mandated obligations. The Coast Guard National Coordination Centre (NCC) at Headquarters in Ottawa not only facilitates national coordination but also provides a mechanism for an integrated national response when needed. Graph 2 shows the distribution of vessels by region in 2008–2009.


Graph 2: Distribution of Vessels by Region, 2008–2009

Ice Accumulation on the CCGS George R. Pearkes - High-endurance Multi-tasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker
Ice Accumulation on the CCGS George R. Pearkes - High-endurance Multi-tasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker
Photo: Captain Banton, NL Region

From Operational Transformation to Mission Readiness

Canadians expect the federal government to respond quickly and effectively in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, national emergency or threat to their security or the environment. When the unthinkable happens on the water, the Coast Guard is usually the first point of contact and everyone expects a quick response from the Fleet.

Centralized coordination is crucial to the Fleet’s quick response during unforeseen events, to help ensure the safety of our personnel and of others who may be at risk. Prompt and accurate information, clear guidelines and established operating procedures are essential decision-making support that often affect the outcome of such situations.

Developed in the wake of our Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2004–2005, the Fleet’s Mission Readiness Framework allows us to respond in a more systematic way to unpredictable events or unplanned requests for urgent support. The framework provides strategies and protocols to deal with changes in normal operating circumstances, whether environmental (storms, ice conditions, floods, etc.), hardware-related (technical breakdowns, accidents, etc.) or human (security threats, public health emergencies, illnesses, etc.).

As part of the Mission Readiness Framework, daily briefings to senior management at CCG Headquarters and readiness response profiles help the Fleet plan for a faster, better-coordinated response. These activities ensure that mission readiness and the culture of safety are codified and remain core principles of the Fleet.

2008–2009 Results
Identified and prioritized high-probability and high-risk events
Began developing preliminary response action plans
Incorporated readiness training and exercises into the Fleet Operations Plan
Formalized a four-year review process to ensure continuous improvement

While we take every precaution to ensure the safety and security of our personnel, our clients, and Canadians, incidents can occur while the Coast Guard is operating in high-risk situations. When incidents do happen, we undertake a thorough analysis of events in order to continually improve our service delivery.

In January 2009, CCG released its safety investigation report into the rollover of the CCG Auxiliary fishing vessel Sea Urchin following a training exercise on November 4, 2007. Additionally, following the tragic events of March 28, 2008, when the fishing vessel L’Acadien II capsized while under tow by a CCG icebreaker, CCG formed a dedicated team to support the investigation and analyze the recommendations offered in all investigations into this incident. CCG will implement an action plan to further improve safety and reduce risk in its operations.

Assistance to Law Enforcement Operations Conference

While CCG does not have a law enforcement mandate, we have been, in line with our legislated mandate, supporting our partners in fisheries, and domestic law enforcement and national security operations for many years. In keeping with other areas of operations, it is essential to ensure that we conduct our operations as safely, effectively, and efficiently as possible.

This conference, held on October 21 and 22, 2008, in Ottawa, included CCG, RCMP, and DFO Conservation and Protection (C&P) personnel from Headquarters and the Regions, and focused on issues that affect the safety of our employees during these types of operations.

The conference also looked at the lessons learned from previous activities, such as the Farley Mowat incident, with a view to improving operations, policies, and procedures for future support efforts.

CCGS Pierre Radisson, a Medium Icebreaker, participating in a SAR/ER exercise with Denmark, the United States, and Iceland.
CCGS Pierre Radisson, a Medium Icebreaker, participating in a SAR/ER exercise with Denmark, the United States, and Iceland.
Photo: NL Region

Changes on the International Front: Beyond Our Borders

Canada is a member country of both the North Pacific Coast Guard Forum (NPCGF) and the North Atlantic Coast Guard Forum (NACGF). CCG leads Canada’s participation in both these international organizations. Other Canadian participants include the RCMP, the Canada Border Services Agency, TC, and DFO’s C&P Branch.

The NPCGF, which also includes Russia, China, Japan, Republic of Korea, and the U.S., was created in 2000 to share information and best practices, identify opportunities to improve cooperation on common fronts, and organize joint training and exercises. Working groups meet to address mutual priority areas, such as fishery enforcement, maritime security, and illegal drug trafficking.

The NACGF, modeled after the NPCGF, was formed in 2007 and is composed of the coast guard agencies of 20 countries, all of which share maritime interests in the North Atlantic Ocean.

2008–2009 Results
Hosted a successful NPCGF exercise based on a natural disaster humanitarian assistance scenario, in July 2008
Attended the March 2009 NPCGF Experts’ Meeting in Seoul, Republic of Korea, which focused on operational management and the development of a virtual operations centre
The CCGS Pierre Radisson took part in a joint SAR/ER exercise with Denmark, the U.S., and Iceland at the September 2008 Summit in Greenland


The Fleet operates in a dynamic environment that is influenced by a variety of economic, environmental, and social factors. The Fleet is also aware that its clients’ environment is constantly changing and that various internal and external elements can therefore impact their service needs or priorities. These elements include such factors as economic upturns causing an increase in maritime traffic, increased global interest in the marine habitat and marine environmental protection, and technological advancements in areas such as vessel tracking or positioning systems. Climate change impacts, such as fluctuating water levels, increasing ice variability, and extended shipping seasons, also place increased demands on our services. We must therefore determine how best to meet the needs and expectations of Canadians, mariners, clients, and stakeholders within available finances and resources.

CCGS Isle Rouge - Mid-Shore Patrol Vessel near the Coast Guard Base in Prescott, Ontario
CCGS Isle Rouge - Mid-Shore Patrol Vessel near the Coast Guard Base in Prescott, Ontario
Photo: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

These environmental factors, or drivers of change, cause the Fleet to undergo internal transitions which include the following:

  • Our heightened role in maritime security means that we need to train and equip (including policy development) our personnel to effectively perform an increasing operational support role in maritime security;
  • Enhanced awareness of environmental issues means that we need to implement energy efficiency measures and embrace responsible environmental stewardship in our own operations;
  • A highly competitive market for skilled, qualified, and certificated mariners means that we need to step up our recruitment and retention efforts while encouraging a more culturally representative workforce. By 2012, almost 24% of our marine personnel will be eligible to retire; and
  • Increasing maritime traffic in all sectors (recreational and commercial) and in all areas, including the Arctic, means that we need to invest more in ensuring reliable and available vessels to meet current and future client and program demand.

In a maritime nation such as ours, the CCG must be able to rely on an effective, efficient, adaptable, and mission-ready fleet of vessels and helicopters. The initiatives outlined in this report will help address challenges and continue to improve our performance. Providing more support to our maritime professionals to help them respond with confidence to incidents and crises and provide increased quality services to our clients, partners, and all Canadians is a Fleet priority.

CCGS Henry Larsen - Medium Icebreaker at Kugaaruk, Nunavut
CCGS Henry Larsen - Medium Icebreaker at Kugaaruk, Nunavut
Photo: NL Region