ARCHIVED - 1. Serving Canadians

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Canada is a coastal nation with a strong maritime tradition and a reliance on maritime transportation and resource-based industries. It has one of the longest coastlines in the world; the world’s largest archipelago; inland water systems that stretch 3,700 kilometres from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Lake Superior; and a 3.7 million square-kilometre Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone with its incumbent management responsibilities. As such, the importance to Canada of having responsive and operationally ready federal maritime presence, services and capabilities cannot be overstated.

The federal government is mandated to play a lead role in ensuring the sustainable use and development of the country’s oceans and inland waterways. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is the national institution by which Canada exerts its influence and presence in much of Canada’s waters.

CCG has a long history of delivering maritime services on behalf of the Government of Canada and has well-defined programs and services. In a typical day, the CCG:

  • Saves eight lives;
  • Assists 55 people in 19 search and rescue cases;
  • Handles 1,127 marine radio contacts;
  • Manages 2,346 commercial ship movements;
  • Services 55 aids to navigation;
  • Escorts four commercial vessels through ice;
  • Carries out 12 fishery patrols, supports eight science surveys and three hydrographic missions;
  • Deals with three reported pollution events; and
  • Surveys five kilometres of navigation channel bottom.

Our Legislated Mandate

The Coast Guard’s mandate is derived from the Constitution Act, 1867, which gives the federal government exclusive authority over navigation and shipping and over beacons, buoys, lighthouses and Sable Island. The Oceans Act and the Canada Shipping Act give the Agency its specific mandate.

The Oceans Act confers on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada 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 confers on the Minister responsibility for search and rescue, pollution response and support for other government departments, boards and agencies through the provision of ships, helicopters, and other services.

The Canada Shipping Act confers on the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada responsibilities, powers and obligations with respect to aids to navigation, Sable Island and St. Paul Island, search and rescue, pollution response and vessel traffic services.

The Fleet Headquarters and Regional Operational Services Directorates (Fleet) manage and operate the fleet which serves as a visible symbol of the Canadian identity.  CCG vessels and helicopters, with their distinctive red and white hulls, and the uniformed officers and crew, provide Canadians with an immediate sense of federal presence and security and safety on the scene, whether it is in the course of their regular duties and responsibilities or when responding to a federal or other emergency. The operationally ready civilian fleet serves as the on-water responder supporting all maritime priorities of the federal government.

Helicopter C-GCHW tasked to Icebreaking and SAR Patrol
Helicopter C-GCHW tasked to Icebreaking and SAR Patrol
Photo: NL Region

1.1 Our Clients

As owner/operator of the government civilian fleet of Canada, the Fleet supports Canada and Canadians on four equally important levels:

  • Providing CCG services related to aids to navigation (Aids and Waterways), icebreaking, search and rescue (SAR), Maritime Security, pollution response (Environmental Response), and marine communications and traffic services (MCTS);
  • Supporting Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) programs by providing vessels and maritime professionals to support the department’s science activities (DFO Science) and to help manage and protect fisheries resources (DFO Fisheries and Aquaculture Management (FAM));
  • Supporting non-military activities of Other Government Departments and Agencies (OGDs); and
  • Serving the broader Canadian interest by responding to federal maritime priorities and natural or man-made emergencies.

Graph 1 illustrates the relative use of fleet assets according to client usage. Close to three quarters of our services are delivered in support of CCG services; 51% for the provision of search and rescue services (arguably the most important of the services that the CCG provides), and 5.9% for Maritime Security.

Graph 1: Distribution of Fleet Clients,2006-2007 (% of Operational Days)

Services to DFO represent one quarter of all services delivered by Fleet, while the OGDs represent just over 2%. 

The services dedicated to each client is further analysed in Section 4.

1.2 Our Operations

The Fleet effectively manages its diverse and numerous responsibilities by being versatile and highly adaptable. It operates out of five regions (see Figure 1), with Regional Operations Centres (ROCs) tasking and deploying vessels and maritime professionals to meet service needs, with a National Coordination Centre (NCC) facilitating national Fleet management and an integrated national response when needed.

Figure 1: Fleet Regional Operations Centres

The Fleet has established national operating procedures and policies for all aspects of its operations, including the implementation of its Safety and Security Management System (SSMS). On a daily basis, professionals in the field and at sea respect this national framework and perform on-the-scene analysis to make the most appropriate operational decisions in any given circumstance.  At this level, the key is in balancing the needs of the clients with safe operations and other factors, such as weather and risk.

Canadian Coast Guard National Coordination Centre

The terrorist attacks of 9/11 and natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005 emphasize the need for an integrated, multidisciplinary government response.  CCG operations are managed and coordinated primarily in the regions through the ROCs.

In the event of a major emergency or a national security incident, centralized coordination helps ensure that Coast Guard Senior Management has prompt, accurate information upon which to base decisions, and support high level Government of Canada decision-making.

It is in this context that the CCG established the NCC.

In the case of search and rescue, CCG vessels are tasked directly from a Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) or a Maritime Rescue Sub-Centre, in line with international practice.  These situations are managed jointly by the Canadian Forces and the CCG, which dictate the mission and response, resulting in the tasking of any available vessel or helicopter.  In order to provide adequate SAR, other mission coverage and response preparedness, Coast Guard vessels are assigned areas of patrol by the ROCs.  The ROCs and the NCC are connected to the operations centres of OGDs with similar responsibilities, such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canadian Forces, and national/regional/municipal emergency preparedness officials. Regular drills and exercises involving member organizations help ensure an effective, coordinated response when incidents do arise. 

In recent years, maritime security concerns have underscored the importance of such coordination and integrated command and control. In 2006-2007, the CCG worked to improve its structure for better analysis and decision making in support of these activities. These efforts have enhanced CCG’s ongoing collaboration with partners, improving and leveraging overall Government of Canada effectiveness.

The Maritime Security Enforcement Teams (MSET) Program is a prime example of effective interagency cooperation, with the Fleet and the RCMP conducting joint armed patrols of the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Seaway system, enhancing Canada’s maritime security and border integrity.

Improving Ship-to-Shore Communications:  E-mail at Sea Project

Most Canadians take e-mail access for granted. Not so for ship officers and crew aboard CCG vessels. The e-mail at sea project began with a pilot installation on the CCGS Sir William Alexander during the summer of 2006. The installation was successfully completed on 12 vessels this year. 

The project was primarily designed to facilitate personal communications from the vessels and has increased morale among crews at sea for extended periods of time. While the system was never intended as complete administrative system for the CCG vessels, the system does speed up the delivery of ice charts and allows vessels to occasionally provide shore staff public information, providing better situational awareness. Due to the success of this project, it will be expanded to include the installation on a total of 38 vessel

CCGS Edward Cornwallis
CCGS Edward Cornwallis, High Endurance
Multitasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker

Photo: MA Region

1.3 Our Environment

The pace of change has accelerated over the last decade and did not abate in 2006-2007. Demand for CCG services overall has continued to increase, due to the following factors:

  • Rising levels of global ship traffic, leading to greater risk of maritime accidents and oil spills;
  • Climate change, notably in the Arctic, which may extend the duration of the commercial shipping season, and may intensify the demand for marine science activities support;
  • Growing awareness relating to maritime security activities and monitoring;
  • Increased potential for migrant smuggling and the need for border integrity; and
  • Enhanced awareness of environmental issues and growing concern for clean water and a clean environment.

In addition, Canadians have raised their expectation for Government’s readiness to respond, quickly and effectively, in the event of natural or man-made disaster, national emergency, maritime priority, or security or environmental threat.

The future is likely to place increasingly diverse demands on the CCG, thus increasing the need for a safe and secure, effective, efficient, adaptable, and operationally ready fleet, with maritime professionals capable of responding to incidents and crises, and providing services to a wide variety of clients and partners across government, as well as to public and private institutions.

CCGS Martha L. Black

CCGS Martha L. Black
, High Endurance
Multitasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker

Photo: QC Region

Improving Safety Aboard Helicopters

This past year, a CCG/Transport Canada working group was established to improve helicopter passenger safety aboard our CCG helicopters.  

The working group introduced a number of standards that greatly exceed regulatory requirements and are now standard operating procedures for the CCG Fleet. These include:

  • Helmets for front-seat passengers for the duration of all flights;
  • Mandatory personal flares on personal flotation devices;
  • Mandatory Personal Locator Beacons in addition to the locator beacons installed on the helicopters;
  • Suggested wearing of helicopter immersion suits for flights over water;
  • Available in-depth safety training for“frequent flyers”; and
  • Available increased safety training in every region.

CCGS Terry Fox
CCGS Terry Fox, Heavy Icebreaker
Photo: MA Region

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