Government of Canada extends contract for marine emergency towing vessels on the West Coast

News release

November 5, 2021

Ottawa, Ontario - The Government of Canada is committed to protecting mariners and the marine environment on the West Coast, including Indigenous coastal communities and surrounding waters.

To continue to meet this commitment, the Government of Canada is developing a long-term national approach for marine emergency towing known as the National Strategy on Emergency Towing, which will include recommendations on how to best meet emergency towing requirements on all coasts. The strategy will consider regional needs, the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples, partners and stakeholders, and lessons learned from the Atlantic Eagle and Atlantic Raven, which are the two emergency towing vessels leased by the government and currently stationed off the coast of British Columbia.

As part of the Oceans Protection Plan, the two vessels have been strategically located in the waters off British Columbia since late-2018, helping ensure the Canadian Coast Guard has the vessels it needs to respond to incidents involving large ships off the West Coast. The Atlantic Raven was on scene and continues to play an essential role in the ongoing incident involving the M/V Zim Kingston off Greater Victoria, Vancouver Island.

Today, the Government of Canada announced a one-year contract extension for the lease of the two emergency towing vessels. The extension of this contract is an interim measure while the federal government determines how best to provide sustainable emergency towing capabilities. The extension is valued at $20 million.

As part of its commitment to protecting Indigenous waters and coastal communities, the Government of Canada is working with Indigenous Peoples in B.C. to ensure their insights and expertise are reflected in the planning, response and protection of mariners and the marine environment, including in emergency towing. The Canadian Coast Guard has strengthened its collaboration with Indigenous Peoples on marine safety and response training, and we worked closely to expand the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary in B.C. to support Indigenous communities.


“Our government will continue to work in close partnership with First Nations in British Columbia to protect our beautiful coastlines, waterways, and all those who enjoy them. As we have seen with the recent container spill, emergency towing vessels play a critical role in the Canadian Coast Guard with those efforts. We are proud that the historic investments we’ve made under the Oceans Protection Plan continue to support strengthened marine safety along our iconic Pacific coastline.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Responding to emergencies and preventing spills protects our oceans and supports our economy.  Renewing these leases is another step towards making sure our coasts are protected in a modern and advanced way. Thanks to the Oceans Protection Plan, marine shipping is safer, and our marine ecosystems are better protected than ever before in Canada.”

The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport

Quick facts

  • In 2018, through the Oceans Protection Plan, the Government of Canada awarded a three-year, $67-million contract to Atlantic Towing Ltd. of Saint John, New Brunswick, for the lease of the Atlantic Eagle and Atlantic Raven.

  • The two vessels are able to tow large ships in distress, such as tankers or container ships, before they get too close to shore, to help prevent on-water incidents. This meets the immediate need to increase emergency response capacity in the region.

  • Both vessels are located off the coast of British Columbia, one patrolling a northern area in Canadian waters between Alaska and the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and the other patrolling a southern area including the west side of Vancouver Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

  • These two large vessels support a broad range of the Coast Guard’s mandate, including search and rescue operations and environmental responses as required.

  • The $1.5 billion Oceans Protection Plan is the largest investment ever made to protect Canada’s coasts and waterways. This national plan is creating a stronger marine safety system that provides economic opportunities for Canadians today, while protecting our coastlines and clean water for generations to come. This work is being done in close collaboration with Indigenous Peoples, local stakeholders and coastal communities.

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Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard

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