Canadian Coast Guard 2019 Arctic Operations Nearing Mid-Season

News release

CCGS Captain Molly Kool anchored near Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.

Montreal, Quebec
Canadian Coast Guard

Canadians across the country rely on the critical services of the Canadian Coast Guard to protect mariners and the marine environment, and to ensure the safe and efficient movement of ships that are key to our vibrant economy. With continued growth in commercial shipping and with climate change already affecting our communities, demands on the Coast Guard continue to grow. The Coast Guard ensures safe and efficient movement of vessels in Canada's northern waters, and supports summer re-supply of communities in Canada’s Arctic.

The Canadian Coast Guard is nearing the mid-way point of its 2019 Arctic operational season, which runs into November. All seven scheduled vessels have been deployed to the Arctic, the last being the CCGS Henry Larsen, which departed St. John’s on August 16 to provide icebreaking assistance. All Coast Guard icebreakers are supporting operational and program commitments, such as providing safe escorts to ships through ice-covered waters, conducting hydrographic surveys, maintaining navigational aids, and supporting both ArcticNet and Fisheries and Oceans science programs.

As part of her maiden voyage to Arctic waters, CCGS Captain Molly Kool completed Operation Pacer Goose, the annual resupply mission for the Thule US Air Force base in Greenland. The new vessel also provided icebreaking services for the commercial shipping industry, and continues to support sealift in the eastern Arctic.

The Marine Communication and Traffic Services Centre (MCTS) in Iqaluit opened on May 15, 2019. As of July 31, MCTS Iqaluit has provided support for 112 vessels under the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone (NORDREG). These vessels include Canadian Coast Guard ships, cargo ships, tankers, cruise ships, research vessels, bulk carriers, tugs, fishing vessels, pleasure crafts, and adventurers.

Now in its second operational year, the Rankin Inlet Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) station in Nunavut represents a significant milestone under the Oceans Protection Plan (OPP). This year, it opened on June 21, and provides additional maritime search and rescue support during the summer season. The Rankin Inlet IRB station is crewed by Indigenous post-secondary students, hired and trained by the Canadian Coast Guard. The crew also provide marine safety information to community members to help contribute to safer waters in Canada’s North.

Also related to the OPP is increasing capacity for search and rescue in the North. As of July 28, search and rescue community visits, training or exercises have taken place in Inuvik, NT; Yellowknife, NT; Hay River, NT; Churchill, MB; Gjoa Haven, NU; Taloyoak, NU; Qikiqtarjuaq, NU; Iqaluit, NU; Rankin Inlet, NU; Coral Harbour, NU; Naujaat, NU; Pangnirtung, NU; Kuujjuaq, QC; and Kangirsuk, QC.

On August 2, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced funding for six new program icebreakers to be built for the Coast Guard. These new icebreakers will ensure the Coast Guard can continue to support the annual resupply of Arctic communities during its summer operational season.

Under the OPP, the Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program is helping Arctic communities grow on-water search and rescue capabilities, providing funding to purchase boats and other essential equipment. More details on the program can be found here.

On August 18, the CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier delivered bicycles and helmets to Cambridge Bay, Nunavut in partnership with the Polar Bike Project. This is the fourth year in a row Coast Guard has participated in this volunteer-based initiative.

Throughout the season, a number of international agencies, researchers and partners, such as the Department of National Defence, the Government of Nunavut, and the Royal Canadian Navy joined our vessels to carry out new or ongoing scientific projects, technical sea trials and training operations. In August, members of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets joined the CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent  and had the opportunity to undertake tasks in different vessel departments, and to familiarize themselves with different equipment aboard the vessel.

Coast Guard’s Arctic season runs into November; however, operational plans are subject to change due to ice conditions and/or weather, changes by industry to their shipping schedules, or other unexpected situations. Weather changes can happen quickly, especially in the Arctic.

The Canadian Coast Guard advises anyone considering adventure trips to the Arctic to be prepared with emergency plans and equipment due to rapidly changing weather and ice conditions, and to avoid navigating in areas with ice coverage beyond the capabilities of their vessel.

In 2018, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Canadian Coast Guard created a new Arctic Region in partnership with ITK to ensure Inuit and all Indigenous peoples, as well as residents of the North are at the centre of the department's decision-making in the region. The new Region exemplifies DFO's and the Canadian Coast Guard's commitment to advancing reconciliation and pursuing a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, which is based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. It will enable DFO and the Coast Guard to work more closely with Inuit and all Indigenous Leaders, Indigenous organizations, stakeholders and all residents of the Arctic on innovative approaches to program and service delivery.


“Climate change and warming oceans are opening up the Arctic to industrial activities, making the Canadian Coast Guard's role in the Arctic increasingly important. With new program icebreakers, we are ensuring the women and men of the Coast Guard have the resources and capacity to ensure summer resupply for northern communities. Our Government has demonstrated its commitment to the future of the Canadian Coast Guard by announcing the renewal of its fleet. We are also committed to the future of Canada’s Arctic. That’s why we created a new Arctic Region for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard in collaboration with Inuit Leadership, First Nations and Northern Communities - advancing reconciliation and pursuing a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“We are very pleased with the Canadian Coast Guard’s work so far during our Arctic season, collaborating with industry to provide safe and efficient vessel transit across the region, and working with Indigenous peoples. Engaging with communities is key to continuing to grow the new Canadian Coast Guard Arctic region, and allows both crews and communities to exchange maritime knowledge that will help contribute to increased maritime safety.”

Neil O’Rourke, Assistant Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard, Arctic Region

Quick facts

  • As of August 6, 2019, our Arctic Operations logged the following:

    • 42 commercial escorts
    • 4 helo-based ice reconnaissance missions
    • 1 commercial harbour breakout(s)
    • 8 Arctic based emergencies requiring deployment/taskings of search and rescue assets

Related products

Associated links


Media Relations   
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard
Central and Arctic Region

Stay Connected

Page details

Date modified: