The Canadian Coast Guard’s Arctic operations are now well underway for the 2016 season. Our annual Arctic Operations provide greater maritime safety, help to protect the unique Arctic marine environment, support our most northern communities and establish a continuous federal presence in our Arctic waters.
Planning for Arctic Operations is carried out throughout the year but the new season officially starts with the opening of the Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) Centre in Iqaluit. That took place on May 16 this year for the Western Arctic operations and on June 15 for the Eastern Arctic operations. The Centre will operate until December 30, 2016 in order to assist and support vessel traffic in the Arctic. Outside of these dates, the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services (NORDREG) are provided from the Prescott MCTS, which also provides a year-round satellite safety information broadcast service for high Arctic waters.
Eight Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) icebreakers will be deployed throughout 2016. Planning priorities for our 2016 Arctic operations are: escort and icebreaking for commercial vessel traffic, icebreaking in support of community resupply, navigational aid maintenance. CCG is currently finishing up with these operations in the lower Arctic and will be repositioning icebreakers to the high Arctic and the Northwest Passage in the coming weeks.
We are also pleased to provide annual support for new and ongoing scientific missions and a variety of government programs/joint operations. In addition to planned operations and events, Canadian Coast Guard vessels are ready to respond to search and rescue incidents or environmental response events or other urgent or humanitarian cases.
The Canadian Coast Guard Arctic fleet is always at the ready to respond to search and rescue or environmental response events. Safety First – Service Always!
In order to carry out the 2016 season’s planned activities, the following Coast Guard Ships have been deployed:
CCGS Pierre Radisson – departed June 22, from Quebec City
CCGS Terry Fox – departed June 25 from St. John’s
CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier – departed July 2 from Victoria
CCGS Martha L. Black – departed July 6 from Quebec City
CCGS Henry Larsen – departed July 15 from St. John’s
CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent – departed July 22 from Halifax
CCGS Des Groseilliers – departed July 28 from Quebec City
In addition, the CCGS Amundsen departed Quebec City on June 3, embarking on 125 days of dedicated scientific programming with ArcticNet, from Laval University.
Coast Guard will collaborate with the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) to support their work in Arctic surveying and charting, using state-of-the art multi-beam sonar systems, to significantly increase the amount of sea floor surveyed in the Arctic. Two projects in particular will once again be supported in 2016: the Galway Project — collecting seabed data in the North Atlantic and Eastern Arctic Ocean; and the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) project – collecting seabed data along Canada’s extended continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.
The Coast Guard will continue ongoing collaborations with Natural Resources Canada, the Royal Canadian Navy, Parks Canada, as well as international agencies, researchers and other partners.
Also, as part of this season’s Arctic Operations, the Coast Guard is pleased to support a volunteer-run bicycle donation program for Arctic youth by transporting and delivering them to a community as the ship passes by that community later this summer.
The public is invited to follow us on social media for regular updates about our Arctic Operations and activities:
- In 2015, seven Coast Guard ships were deployed throughout the season: CCGS Amundsen, Des Groseilliers, George R. Pearkes, Louis S. St-Laurent, Pierre Radisson, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, Terry Fox.
- Statistics and activities by the seven icebreakers in 2015 included:
- Operated for a total of 710 days
- Travelled a combined total distance of 87,570 nautical miles (all programs/operations, from homeport to homeport)
- Provided a total of 1921 hours of icebreaker assistance to shipping
- Provided 49 vessel escorts
- Authorized fixed wing aircraft ice reconnaissance flights totaling 100 hours
- Operated CCG helicopters for a total of 299 hours
- Responded to 18 search and rescue (SAR) cases
- Responded to 1 environmental response (ER) case
- Conducted 12 crew changes
- Participated/attended two community events (Gjoa Haven and Pangnirtung)
- Reached the North Pole on August 27th
“The Canadian Coast Guard is deeply committed to supporting our Arctic communities, facilitating scientific research, and ensuring safe navigation. I am pleased that our annual Arctic operations contribute significantly to these important objectives,” said Julie Gascon, Assistant Commissioner, Central and Arctic Region.