Yellowknife, Northwest Territories – The Government of Canada is committed to maritime safety, providing essential services to mariners, and ensuring the health and safety of all Canadians. The Canadian Coast Guard’s annual Arctic icebreaking season allows the safe and efficient movement of vessels and goods in northern waters, which is key to community resupply. Coast Guard’s presence in Canada’s Arctic also provides key services, including search and rescue, support for scientific research, marine communications and traffic services, aids to navigation, and marine environmental response.
The Canadian Coast Guard’s annual Arctic icebreaking season includes a maiden voyage to the Arctic by the CCGS Jean Goodwill. Delivered to the Coast Guard in November 2020, the CCGS Jean Goodwill is the second of three medium interim icebreakers to join the fleet. In total, eight Coast Guard icebreakers are scheduled to deploy from June into November to support northern communities and operational and program commitments.
- June 17 – CCGS Terry Fox departs St. John’s, NL for icebreaking and supporting the Canadian Safe Boating Council’s SARSmart program, delivering lifejackets to four Nunavut communities – Arviat, Coral Harbour, Naujaat, and Rankin Inlet.
- June 24 – CCGS Des Groseilliers departs Quebec City, QC for Aids to Navigation, refueling Killiniq and Eureka Stations, and Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) charting.
- June 30 – CCGS Jean Goodwill departs Dartmouth, NS, for maiden Arctic voyage which includes icebreaking and operation Pacer Goose, the resupply of US Air Force Base in Thule, Greenland.
- June 30 – CCGS Amundsen departs Quebec City, QC for science missions led by Amundsen Science.
- July 7 – CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier departs Victoria, BC, for icebreaking, Aids to Navigation, CHS, and science programming.
- July 23 – CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent departs St.John’s, NL for icebreaking, CHS, and the international Joint Ocean Ice Study mission.
- July 25 – CCGS Pierre Radisson departs from Quebec City, QC for icebreaking, CHS, and participating in the Op Nanook Tatigiit maritime emergency exercise in Baffin Bay.
- September 8 – CCGS Henry Larsen departs St.John’s, NL for icebreaking, CHS, and closing the Killiniq station for the end of the season.
The Canadian Coast Guard’s skilled crews are ready to assist the shipping industry during their annual Arctic resupply missions, known as sealift. In addition to ice escorts, Coast Guard will provide daily updates on ice conditions and icebreaker operations to industry and partners throughout the shipping season. Their contributions are essential to a successful marine shipping season in the Arctic.
Coast Guard is actively monitoring the COVID-19 pandemic and working closely with Indigenous organizations and governments, territorial governments, communities, industry, and other partners to make decisions based on the best guidance available from federal, provincial and territorial, and municipal health authorities. Coast Guard’s levels of service are maintained at normal operations and National Standard Operating Procedures are in place to prevent the spread of the virus. This includes advanced COVID-19 screening, such as pre-boarding rapid testing and temperature checks, and implementing extra onboard sanitation practices for all Coast Guard crew boarding vessels to the Arctic.
Due to the pandemic, all in-person non-essential public engagement activities in the Arctic have been cancelled this year. This includes shore leave for Coast Guard crews, community visits, open houses, and tours of Coast Guard ships in order to limit contact with communities unless essential, such as a medical emergency.
“Canada’s dedicated Coast Guard members have adapted to operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to deliver icebreaking support, search and rescue services and programs in the Arctic. Through strengthened relationships with Northerners we’re ensuring mariners, oceans and communities remain safe. The Coast Guard ships that are set to sail to the Arctic will provide critical services that Arctic communities rely upon every year, and help to support a strong Blue Economy.”
The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
“The Canadian Coast Guard is committed to making sure our crew members have the vessels and equipment they need to provide their critical services in the Arctic and across Canada. I am proud to see the CCGS Jean Goodwill taking its maiden voyage to the Arctic this year, joining our fleet of vessels that provide vital support to Northern communities each Arctic season. In the future, the addition of two new Polar icebreakers will extend the Coast Guard’s on-water Arctic operations to all year long.”
Mario Pelletier, Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard
“Coast Guard’s top priority is the health and safety of our crews and the people of the communities we serve in the Arctic, both at-sea and ashore. We continue to adapt our plans and are in constant communication with Arctic partners to ensure delivery of critical programs like search and rescue, environmental response, and icebreaking in support of community resupply. We’re committed to ensuring a successful operational season in the Arctic again this summer/fall and continued engagement with northerners on year-round priorities.”
Neil O’Rourke, Assistant Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard, Arctic Region
The Inshore Rescue Boat station in Rankin Inlet, NU will open on June 23, 2021, and close for the season on September 7, 2021. The station is operated by Indigenous post-secondary students providing local maritime search and rescue response.
Annual reopening of the Marine Communication and Traffic Services (MCTS) centre in Iqaluit was on May 25, 2020. It will remain open until December 20, 2021, at which time Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone (NORDREG) services will be provided by the MCTS centre in Les Escoumins, QC until the 2022 Arctic season opens.
Navigational products released by the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) provide essential maritime information to support safe and efficient navigation in the Arctic. This year, CHS hydrographers will sail aboard five Coast Guard icebreakers to conduct survey work. Data will be collected through the use of multi-beam echo sounders installed aboard icebreakers, to increase the amount of sea floor surveyed in the Arctic. Surveys will be carried out on a targeted and opportunistic basis by CHS, as ships transit during their assigned Arctic duties.
Coast Guard is actively working with Inuit, First Nation, and Métis and northern residents to support the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary (CCGA) across the Arctic. This includes identifying communities interested in participating in the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program, which provides search and rescue capable boats and other equipment to meet the standards of the CCGA and Transport Canada.
This summer, both the CCGS Dumit and CCGS Eckaloo will be operational from June to October in the Northwest Territories. They will conduct annual Aids to Navigation programming on the Mackenzie River and Great Slave Lake in support of the Western Arctic sealift.
Operation Nanook-Tatigiit, an interagency response to a major maritime incident requiring a Mass Rescue Operation, is scheduled to take place from August 13 to 14, 2021 in the Cumberland Peninsula. Various governments and agencies from Canada, Denmark, and the United States are participating in the exercise, which tests the effectiveness and readiness for a mass Arctic Search and Rescue.
Apart from the mandatory rapid testing for all personnel subject to Arctic deployment, the Canadian Coast Guard is also undertaking a national implementation of voluntary rapid testing for screening of personnel prior to entering other worksites and vessels. The national implementation plan has been developed in collaboration with Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, and refined through a pilot project involving select Coast Guard locations and vessels.
In 2018, the Canadian Coast Guard acquired three Medium interim icebreakers to ensure the continuation of essential icebreaking services in Atlantic Canada, the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes, as well as the Arctic, during vessel life extension and repair periods to the existing fleet.