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The following subsections outline the services provided to each client in terms of planned and actual days provided. These planned days of service for clients are part of an annual planning cycle culminating in the development of the Fleet Operational Plan which outlines the schedule for each vessel, client program and mission requirements, and other details. It is important to note that the number of operational days planned and delivered is a function of various factors, including availability, budget, breakdowns, priority overrides, weather conditions, and unforeseen events.

The information represents the support provided to these clients by the Fleet only and should not be interpreted as representative of the entire suite of services that a particular client receives. For example, in some cases it is more efficient for aids and waterways services to be delivered by contractors and these services are not included in the information provided here. The planned and delivered days contained in this report reflect the use of Fleet assets only. It is also important to note that client program effectiveness information is not included, as this is a program performance function.

Finally, none of our programs and services would be possible without the dedicated professional women and men who work behind the scenes to maintain our equipment and provide the administrative and planning support that enables front-line staff members to do their jobs.

SAR exercise simulation in Québec Region
SAR exercise simulation in Québec Region
Photo: N. Letendre, DFO


Canada’s SAR Program is a cooperative effort of federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal governments. It is responsible for approximately 5.3 million km2 of coastal territory, beginning 800 miles offshore in the Pacific, extending 1,000 nautical miles in the Atlantic, and stretching all the way from the Canada-U.S. border to the North Pole.

CCG teamwork amongst on-shore and at-sea personnel, DND, and CCG Auxiliary saves about 2,900 lives at risk in the marine environment each year. CCG SAR is delivered by vessels and maritime professionals positioned at various locations across Canada that are dedicated to this purpose. Primary SAR vessels are specially designed to meet the rigorous demands inherent to providing capabilities and response in Canadian waters. In addition, all other CCG vessels and aircraft are available to provide SAR response in addition to their other duties.

Key SAR tasks conducted by Fleet personnel include:

  • Conducting visual and electronic searches for vessels and survivors, day and night, by sea and by air, in various weather conditions;
  • Providing a platform for rescue personnel and vessels on scene and allowing search operations to be conducted;
  • Managing complex searches and acting as on-scene coordinators;
  • Recovering survivors and providing shelter, amenities, and advanced first aid;
  • Providing radiocommunications facilities for emergency operations to enable vessels to communicate with shore-based radio stations, other vessels, and rescue craft; and
  • Providing towing or other services to vessels in need of assistance when life is at risk.

Fleet Performance

In 2008–2009, 16,047 days were delivered to SAR, a slight decrease from the previous year. With its year-long boating and ice-free season, Pacific Region requires by far the greatest SAR service (see Graph 3). Of the 16,047 days, 7.5% (1,206 days) were spent responding to incidents or patrolling. Graph 4 shows that 87.5% of the total days were allotted to vessel readiness, where, much like a fire or ambulance service, vessels are not responding to an incident or exercising, but are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to calls for assistance.

Graph 3: Service to SAR per Region, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009 (# of Operational Days)

Graph 4: Service per SAR Activity, 2008-2009 (% of Total Operational Days)

Dramatic Rescue off Newfoundland

Twenty-two foreign sailors owe their lives to the Coast Guard after they were rescued from the frigid waters off the coast of Newfoundland by the crew of the CCGS Leonard J. Cowley. The crew members aboard the Monte Galineiro, a Spanish fishing trawler, escaped their rapidly sinking vessel after a pair of explosions destroyed the ship’s engine room in the early hours of February 22, 2009. Fortunately, the CCGS Leonard J. Cowley was patrolling nearby, received the distress call, and was on scene in 10 minutes.

Canadian Coast Guard during a SAR exercise (SAREX 2008)
Canadian Coast Guard during a SAR exercise (SAREX 2008)
Photo: CF Photo by Corporal Kevin Sauvé


A key aspect of our increased role in supporting the federal maritime security agenda is the Fleet’s enhanced participation in the joint RCMP-CCG Marine Security Enforcement Team (MSET) program in the St. Lawrence–Great Lakes region. Four of our vessels, including the newly reactivated CCGS Isle Rouge, patrol the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes. Their crews assist with border security in waters where ships naturally cross the border between Canada and the U.S. as many as 23 times during their voyage from Beauharnois, Quebec to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Fleet crews work in close proximity with armed law enforcement personnel, which means that our personnel are exposed to risks and hazards not experienced in traditional programs. To mitigate risks, Fleet employees assigned to MSET vessels receive additional personal protective equipment, law enforcement familiarization, and police defensive tactics training. The training helps improve employee safety and boosts the onwater effectiveness of MSET through enhanced onboard integration of CCG and law enforcement personnel.

CCG personnel members also support maritime security services by:

  • Observing, reporting, and recording maritime security events and organized crime activities;
  • Monitoring and patrolling the Great Lakes, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and vast areas of ocean, including coastal and international waters, deterring threats and illegal activities;
  • Patrolling boundary areas and conducting inspections at sea with our partners to ensure compliance with regulations;
  • Serving as a command platform and secure communications hub for officers in charge of any marine enforcement activity;
  • Conducting routine boarding of vessels from rigid hull inflatable boats carried on board; and
  • Providing an operationally ready response capability for maritime security incidents.
2008–2009 Results
Conducted an in-depth tasks and hazards analysis of enforcement operations
Conducted a personnel and infrastructure gap analysis
Worked with RCMP and C&P to improve enforcement procedures and equipment
Organized an operations enforcement conference to share best practices with our law enforcement partners

Fleet Performance

In 2008–2009, vessels sailed 33,761 nautical miles in the performance of MSET duties. Some 80% of the planned days were delivered; the shortfall was due in part to a three-month delay in bringing the CCGS Isle Rouge back into service which needed significant repair due to its condition and age. The addition of the CCGS Isle Rouge increased our program commitment to four vessels while we await the arrival, beginning in 2011, of the first of four new mid-shore patrol vessels dedicated to maritime security. Table 8 shows the number of days of activities allocated to maritime security in 2008–2009.

Table 8: Maritime Security Activities, 2008–2009 (# of Operational Days)
Maritime security assistance activities 450.25
Vessel readiness 241.24
Other (e.g. inspection, transit) 49.84
General support activities 27.86
CCG delays 21.22
Client delays 19.87
Preparedness training and exercises 10.82
Total operational days 821.10

Government of Canada Takes Enforcement Action Against the Farley Mowat:

Farley Mowat
Farley Mowat
Photo: MA Region

In April 2008, the Fleet participated in monitoring and enforcement action against the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel Farley Mowat for violations of the Marine Mammal Regulations, which are offences under the Fisheries Act. The Farley Mowat was boarded in the Gulf of St-Lawrence in Canadian fisheries waters as part of a joint enforcement operation conducted by the RCMP, DFO fishery officers, and CCG. The vessel had failed to respond to repeated warnings to exit and remain out of Canadian waters as well as posed a hazard to Canadian sealers.


CCG is the lead federal agency for all shipsource and mystery pollution spills in waters under Canadian jurisdiction. In addition, Canada may be asked to provide clean-up assistance by other countries according to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness Response Cooperation. Its objectives are to minimize the environmental, economic, and public safety impacts of marine pollution incidents.

In Canada, south of 60°N latitude, the private sector is responsible for ER, while CCG provides federal monitoring, oversight, and inspection. If CCG deems the private sector response inadequate, it will assume control, coordinate the response, and, if necessary, conduct actual containment and recovery operations. North of 60°N latitude, CCG is the primary responder.

Fleet Performance

Service planned for ER includes days for training and exercising to prepare for an eventual response to incidents or emergencies. Actual days delivered include those for training and exercising plus other days dictated by unplanned events such as oil spills. This year’s report includes small craft activities, as they provide a large part of ER support services.

In 2008–2009, while CCG had planned for 60 days of service, 72 days were actually delivered. Of those 72 days, 30 were spent on ER activities and 42 on emergency preparedness. Graph 5 shows the planned versus actual days of service for all ships, including small craft, for the past five years.

Graph 5: Service to Environmental Response, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009

In 2008–2009, the Fleet participated in key incidents that included cleanup efforts following the sinking of the Second World War heritage tug La Lumière at its dock in Britannia Beach, 45 km north of Vancouver. CCG also partnered with Atlantic Coastal Action Program Humber Arm in May 2008 to offer oil-spill prevention and response training to recreational boaters. Recreational boating in North America contributes up to 1 billion litres of hydrocarbon and oil pollution in coastal waters each year.

CCGS Provo Wallis - Medium-Endurance Multi-tasked Vessel
CCGS Provo Wallis - Medium-Endurance Multi-tasked Vessel
Photo: Department of Fisheries and Oceans


The Aids to Navigation and Waterways Services programs ensure that our shipping channels are safe and viable, and protect the public’s right to navigation. The Aids to Navigation program provides more than 17,000 short-range marine aids, including visual aids (lighthouses and buoys), sound aids (fog horns), radar aids (reflectors and beacons), and long-range marine aids such as the Differential Global Positioning System (GPS). The Waterways Management program sustains navigable channels in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway, reduces marine navigation risks, and supports environmental protection. The program monitors channel bathymetry (water depth) and contributes to the international control of water levels.

The Fleet supports these programs by placing, lifting, checking, and maintaining an extensive system of floating and fixed aids to navigation, both on water and on shore, and by carrying out surveying operations. A variety of large and small multitasked vessels and helicopters maintain this network. Some aids are required year-round, while seasonal aids are lifted out of the water for the winter season to prevent ice damage. They are then repositioned at the beginning of the navigational season.

CCGS Ann Harvey, High-Endurance Multi-tasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker doing buoy work
CCGS Ann Harvey, High-Endurance Multi-tasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker doing buoy work
Photo: NL Region

Fleet Performance

The Aids to Navigation program is generally a seasonal based program, with aids installed or exchanged (winter buoys replaced by summer buoys) in the spring and removed or replaced (by winter buoys) in the fall. The Great Lakes are also affected by Seaway locks closure and opening dates. In other regions, aids are serviced almost year round, with duties that include maintaining shore lights, checking the location, mooring, and function of buoys, and supplying lighthouses with fuel. Service delivered to Aids to Navigation has decreased 29% over the last five fiscal years (see Graph 6) mostly due to changing program requirements and advancing technology.

Graph 6: Service Planned versus Delivered to Aids to Navigation, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009

The Fleet must be able to:

  • Reach aids in restricted, shallow, and ice-infested waters;
  • Serve as a platform for carrying and servicing buoys and related equipment as well as constructing navigational aids; and
  • Supply air capability to reach aids not accessible by boat or road, especially in remote areas, particularly in Arctic.

Success is highly dependent on competent maritime professionals. Accurate navigation is key, as placing aids often requires the vessel to manoeuvre close to shoals, rocks, and reefs. For this reason, extensive local knowledge and specific training are required. Marine personnel members also deploy, recover, and maintain aids, verify the position and operation of floating aids, keep records of operations, update data on positions and characteristics of aids as required, and conduct maintenance on fixed and floating aids.

A Link to the Mainland for Sable Island

Sable Island, located approximately 300 km southeast of Halifax, is a unique place. Its windswept beaches and sand dunes provide shelter and sustenance for several migratory bird species, wild horses, and large populations of grey and harbour seals. Discovered in the 16th century, Sable Island has long served as a lifesaving station for sailors shipwrecked in the area, known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” The warning flags and beach patrols of that time have been replaced by light stations, GPS, accurate navigation charts, and SAR vessels.

CCGS Sir William Alexander - High-Endurance Multi-tasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker delivering supplies to Sable Island
CCGS Sir William Alexander - High-Endurance
Multi-tasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker delivering
supplies to Sable Island

Photo: Department of Fisheries and Oceans

The women and men who live and work on Sable Island not only collect weather data for the benefit of the Meteorological Service of Canada but also support Canada’s sovereignty, security, conservation, and heritage preservation activities. CCG facilities on the island include lighthouses, seasonally occupied buildings for researchers, two helicopter landing pads, and a navigation beacon.

CCG plays a vital role in resupply operations: personnel, fresh food, and mail are delivered to the island twice a month by plane or helicopter. Fuel and larger supplies are brought ashore once a year. In 2009, the CCGS Sir William Alexander will deliver 90,000 litres of diesel, 2,000 litres of aviation fuel, 500 litres of gasoline and enough supplies to fill the entire foredeck of the ship. The Fleet is proud to help the women and men who live and work on Sable Island fulfill their duties as stewards of this fragile national treasure.

CCGS Des Groseilliers, Medium Icebreaker
CCGS Des Groseilliers, Medium Icebreaker
Photo: QC Region


CCG provides icebreaking and related services for flood control and to facilitate the safe and timely movement of maritime traffic through ice-covered and ice-infested Canadian waters, which is crucial to industry and the Canadian economy.

The Fleet provides crews trained to operate specially designed vessels in support of this vital service. Icebreakers escort ships through ice-covered waters, free vessels trapped in ice, allow access to ice-infested harbours, provide ice information, and reduce the risk of flooding by both monitoring and breaking up ice jams. Icebreakers also carry helicopters that conduct ice reconnaissance flights, locate open water, and lead effective icebreaking operations.

Canada has two icebreaking seasons: from December to April in the south, from the Great Lakes to the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador, including the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Gulf of St. Lawrence; and from June to November in both the western and eastern Arctic. At the beginning of June, after completing their winter season operations, seven icebreakers are deployed from the southern regions to the Arctic for the summer season.

Fleet Performance

The total number of days of service dedicated to icebreaking has decreased slightly in 2008–2009. Graph 7 indicates that the service for Arctic icebreaking increased by 10% since 2005–2006, while the service for icebreaking in the South varies year to year. In 2008–2009, the icebreaking program devoted 60% of service days to route assistance (escorts and channel maintenance), 18% to Arctic issues, 12% for facilities and port maintenance, 9% to flood control, and 1% to ice routing and information.

Graph 7: Service to Southern and Arctic Icebreaking, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009

Searching for Erebus and Terror

HMS “Erebus” and “Terror” leaving for a discovery of North-West Passage
HMS “Erebus” and “Terror” leaving for a discovery
of North-West Passage

Photo: Super Stock

In August 2008, the Government of Canada announced that it would embark on the most extensive search yet for the fabled British shipwrecks Erebus and Terror. These two ships were lost in the Canadian Arctic in the 1840s during the ill-fated Franklin Expedition. Believed to lie in waters off King William Island, the ships were under the command of legendary Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin when they became locked in heavy ice that doomed the entire crew of 129 men.

The icebreaker CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier has been given the honour of leading this exciting mission. If successful, findings could be used to reinforce Canada’s Arctic sovereignty claims, to be presented to the United Nations in 2013. During the first six-week search of what could be a three-year project, the Sir Wilfrid Laurier covered the southern waters of Victoria Strait and the eastern part of the Queen Maud Gulf, including O’Reilly and Kirkwall islands north of the mainland Nunavut coast. As with all good mysteries, the search for clues continues.

“Mighty Ship” CCGS Henry Larsen

Viewers tuning into the Discovery Channel’s “Mighty Ships” in August 2008 got a glimpse of life aboard the icebreaker CCGS Henry Larsen on what proved to be a particularly stormy tour. Hurricane-force winds and heavy snowfalls in areas along the northeast coast made for great television, which included footage of a rare avalanche on Fogo Island.

The snow build-up created challenges for the Henry Larsen. As the ship broke through thick and rafting ice, it also had to plough through heavy snow that had accumulated in a thick mat on top of the ice. The crew members used the ship’s power, propeller wash and bubbler systems, and their in-depth knowledge of the prevailing winds and currents, to disperse the ice and continue on their journey.

The ship demonstrated Canada’s pioneering role in icebreaking technology. “Mighty Ships” highlighted the prototype ice hazard radar system being tested on the Henry Larsen for its capability to detect smaller ice forms such as growlers and bergy bits in varying sea conditions, as well as for its potential application in SAR. The program also examined the effectiveness of the hull design, the bubbler and heeling systems in icebreaking.

When asked how his film crew felt about its experience, Discovery Channel’s Karl Jason said: “From the stormy night we first boarded the Henry Larsen to the crisp, sunny day we left the ship at the dock, the film team felt warm hospitality. It came from everyone, from the captain to the cadets.We were immediately impressed and understood the meaning of ‘ship-shape.’”

CCGS Henry Larsen, Medium Icebreaker
CCGS Henry Larsen
, Medium Icebreaker
Photo: NL Region


The MCTS program enables maritime distress and safety communications, conducts vessel screenings, regulates vessel traffic movement, and provides information systems and public correspondence on a 24/7 basis. This service is delivered through a network of 22 centres and supporting communications towers across Canada.

Fleet Performance

In 2008–2009, MCTS activities were solely conducted in Pacific Region, where ships and helicopters are used to reach areas in the Queen Charlotte Islands and central coastal areas. Pacific Region delivered 22 days of service or 80% of its planned days. Although service to MCTS had not been planned elsewhere in Canada, 21 days were delivered in Quebec Region and Central and Arctic Region, where ships were called upon to maintain coast radio stations. This added an additional 21 days of service and brought our percentage of service delivered compared to days planned to 154%. Graph 8 shows the planned versus actual service to MCTS.

Graph 8: Service to MCTS, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009

Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat
Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat
Photo: C&A Region


4.7.1 At-Sea Science

The Fleet supports the DFO At-Sea Science Program, providing trained crews on board both specialized and multitasked vessels such as research trawlers, fishing vessels, hydrographic survey vessels, oceanographic vessels, and icebreakers. For example, Coast Guard icebreakers, such as the flagship CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, support Canadian and Canadian-led international marine research projects in the Arctic. These tasks are carried out during CCG’s regular annual Arctic deployment in support of icebreaking for commercial shipping and northern resupply. The icebreaker CCGS Amundsen also worked in the Arctic in support of the ArcticNet science mission led by Université Laval researchers, reverting to its standard icebreaking duties in the estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence in the winter months.

The crews support scientists and technicians in a variety of specialized areas such as:

  • Fishing for research purposes for a variety of commercial species;
  • Conducting surveys on acoustics, hydrography, geophysics, marine species stock assessment, and benthic habitats and organisms;
  • Conducting marine mammal and seabird enumeration, identification, tracking, and bioassessment;
  • Collecting plankton, larvae, and phytoplankton;
  • Collecting water samples for marine chemistry studies;
  • Taking bottom sediment samples and coring;
  • Collecting data verifying empirical models for water mass structure and circulation as well as currents and tidal propagation and prediction; and
  • Conducting remote camera studies of benthic habitats and organisms.

CCG and the Bedford Institute of Oceanography: A Solid Partnership

CCG is in the process of relocating the Maritimes Region’s fleet of large vessels to the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO). The movement of CCG ships to BIO, to be completed before the end of fiscal year 2009–2010, marks a significant milestone in the history of Fleet in Maritimes Region and is representative of the successful adaptation that we have made to serve our evolving list of clients.

Canada’s largest centre for ocean research, BIO has been at the vanguard of multi-disciplinary ocean science since 1962. Its research helps the federal government make critical decisions on a broad range of ocean issues, including sovereignty, safety, security, environmental protection, and the sustainable use of Canada’s natural resources.

CCGS Wilfred Templeman, Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel
CCGS Wilfred Templeman, Offshore Fisheries Science Vessel
Photo: HQ & NCC

Fleet Performance

Graph 9 shows the Fleet’s delivery of services to Science to be on target for the third year in a row. In 2008–2009, the Fleet delivered 3,910 days of service to Science, or 99.5% of service planned. Graph 10 demonstrates the distribution of activities between fisheries and oceans science, hydrography, waterways management, habitat management, and environmental science.

Graph 9: Service to Science, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009

Graph 10: Service to Science per Activity, 2008-2009

4.7.2 Fisheries and Aquaculture Management

The Fleet supports FAM by carrying out enforcement and surveillance activities in Canadian waters for the C&P Program. The Fleet also provides an enhanced presence at sea in the regulatory areas of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) in order to help stop illegal fishing by foreign fleets in the 282,500 km2 of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and in international waters.

Specialized fisheries patrol vessels, including armed vessels with armed CCG and DFO personnel, are used in the near-shore and offshore areas of Canada. Multitasked vessels with helicopter support are provided as required. CCG maritime professionals support fisheries officers in performing enforcement duties, including:

  • Monitoring and patrolling vast areas of coastline, providing a federal presence in Canadian waters, and thereby deterring threats and illegal activities;
  • Helping ensuring compliance with Canadian laws in Canadian jurisdictions;
  • Supporting fisheries interdiction activities;
  • Patrolling closed and boundary areas and conducting inspections at sea;
  • Serving as a command platform and secure communications hub for C&P enforcement activity;
  • Conducting general and covert surveillance and monitoring various fisheries;
  • Recovering, seizing, storing, and transporting illegal fishing gear; and
  • Checking licences, logbooks, catch, and gear, including inspections of fixed and mobile gear types, and disclosure of poaching or other means of illegal fishing.

Fleet Performance

Table 9 indicates the various patrols undertaken in 2008–2009, mostly in Canadian waters and in NAFO regulatory areas. In all, 92% of service planned for FAM was delivered for a total of 4,318 days of service, a 10% increase from 2004–2005 (see Graph 11). Of the total number of days of service, 57% were spent patrolling Canadian waters and 32% were spent on NAFO patrols. The administrative category includes time taken for the preparation of court actions and testimony. Administrative activities include data compilation, production of enforcement patrol reports, written communications with crown counsel, and court preparation and appearances.

Table 9: FAM Activities, 2008–2009
 Number of
Operational Days (#)
Percentage of Total
Operational Days (%)
Patrolling in Canadian waters 2478.89 57.4%
NAFO patrols 1407.26 32.6%
Resource management 185.62 4.3%
Other patrolling 190.93 4.4%
Administrative 44.63 1.0%
Patrolling in international waters* 7.89 0.2%
Aboriginal fisheries 2.96 0.1%
Total 4318.18 100.0%

* Patrols off the Pacific and Maritime coasts

Graph 11: Service to FAM, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009

CCGS Leonard J. Cowley - Offshore Patrol Vessel
CCGS Leonard J. Cowley - Offshore Patrol Vessel
Photo: Provincial Airlines


The Fleet is also responsible for on-water operations (vessels, helicopters, expertise, personnel, and infrastructure) on behalf of, or in support of, OGDs for the achievement of their specific maritime priorities. These OGDs include: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, DND, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and TC.

Client requirements, missions, and operational profiles dictate the type of support needed. For example, Environment Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Natural Resources Canada need specifically designed scientific vessels to support their activities.

Fleet Performance

In 2008–2009, 1,356 operational days were used in support of OGDs. Service delivered reached 127% of the planned days. The majority of the increase from 2004–2005 (see Graph 12) stems from the seismic and bathymetric surveys conducted in the Arctic to provide documentation in support of Canada’s submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. More days were delivered than planned as the ice and weather conditions were more favourable than expected and will offset the requirement for more days next summer in the Arctic in support of the United Nations Convention on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UNCLOS).

Graph 12: Service to OGDs, 2004-2005 to 2008-2009

The ultimate objective of these surveys is to delineate the outer limits of the sovereign rights of Canada beyond its exclusive economic zone in accordance with the UNCLOS. Fleet icebreakers were also involved in the International Polar Year (IPY) scientific research program focused on the Arctic and Antarctic regions.

Operation NANOOK 08

CCG proved to be a major contributor in Operation NANOOK 08, Canada’s latest sovereignty exercise in the Arctic. Seventyfive CCG personnel, from CCGS Pierre Radisson, ER, MCTS, Iqaluit, and the Central and Arctic ROC, joined hundreds of Canadian Forces Personnel for this DND-led operation in and around Iqaluit, Nunavut.

The exercise provided an excellent opportunity for military and civilian partners to practice working together for the protection and defence of these remote locations. They were able to practice interagency communication in the North and turn theoretical knowledge and skills into valuable experience.

Preparing a casuality for evacuation
Michelle Choquette, the nurse from CCGS Pierre Radisson, and Leading Seaman Morgan Lalond, a medic from HMCS Toronto, prepare a casuality for evacuation, as part of the mass casualty exercise for Operation Nanook 2008.

Photo: Cpl David Cribb, DND Combat Camera

4.8.1 Arctic Sovereignty

The Coast Guard is playing an expanding role in Canada’s Arctic region, delivering a wide variety of maritime services and strengthening Canada’s sovereignty in this region through its services capability and presence. During 2008–2009, on-water support to IPY activities and UNCLOS research continued to be a priority.

From late June to mid-November, the Fleet operates seven icebreakers in the Arctic. They are generally the first vessels to arrive in the region and the last to leave. Icebreakers escort commercial ships; breakout harbours; conduct SAR missions; respond to environmental concerns; manage aids to navigation; activate and de-activate communication towers; and support research, maritime security, and Canadian sovereignty efforts. The Fleet’s vessels and helicopters are often the only Government of Canada marine presence for thousands of miles. As such, they can be called upon to answer any pressing need in this challenging and often harsh environment.

As the signs of climate change in the Arctic become more apparent, with measurable shrinkage in the multi-year ice cover, shifting ice formations, reduced summer ice, and increased interseasonal variability, demands for CCG services in the Arctic are increasing and becoming more diverse.

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

The UNCLOS was adopted in 1982 and is often referred to as the “Constitution of the Seas.” It entered into force in 1994 after ratification by 60 countries, with Canada signing on in 2003. The UNCLOS recognizes coastal states’ sovereign rights to the water column and seabed up to 200 nautical miles from shore and, under special circumstances, to the seabed beyond. This is known as the exclusive economic zone. Any claim to these rights must be supported by scientific data and made within 10 years of ratification.

Using the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent as a primary platform, Canada is conducting seismic and bathymetric surveys in the Arctic to support its claim that Canadian sovereignty should extend well beyond the current 200-nauticalmile limit. Analysis of this field work must be completed by 2012 to meet the November 2013 submission deadline. The consequences of this initiative for Canada are expected to be significant.

The CCGS Amundsen Goes Home

October 2008 marked the end of a 15- month continuous Arctic expedition for the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen, in support of the IPY’s biggest project. The journey took the icebreaker and its scientists and supernumeraries through Hudson Bay, across the Northwest Passage and into the Beaufort Sea, where it spent the winter. The $40-million mission provided some 200 crew members and scientists with front-row seats in the fastest-changing ecosystem on Earth. Quickly changing ice conditions provided a few close calls for the Amundsen. More multi-year Arctic ice is breaking up into ice floes, clogging passages and making for dangerous navigating conditions.

CCGS Amundsen - Medium Icebreaker conducting IPY Science activities in the Arctic
CCGS Amundsen - Medium Icebreaker conducting IPY Science activities in the Arctic
Photo: HQ & NCC