Canadian Coast Guard Completes 2023 Arctic Operational Season

News release

December 18, 2023

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has successfully completed its 2023 Arctic operational season, now that all eight icebreakers deployed this year have returned from the Arctic. The CCG plays a crucial role in supporting Canada’s Arctic sovereignty across the region. Through its presence, operations, and marine traffic monitoring, CCG’s annual Arctic operations continue to demonstrate and reinforce Canada’s long-standing, well-established sovereignty in the North.

CCG operations are also enablers; they help support the summer re-supply of communities in Canada’s North, and provide key services, including search and rescue, icebreaking, support for scientific research, marine communications and traffic services, aids to navigation, as well as marine environmental and hazards response.

In response to the wildfires in the Northwest Territories this summer, Canadian Coast Guard Ships (CCGS) Eckaloo and Dumit, along with CCG personnel provided crucial support to the Government of the Northwest Territories in emergency response efforts. Collaborating closely with local authorities, various supporting departments, volunteers, and emergency services, CCG stood ready for search and rescue emergencies in the community, aided first responders and civilians, and actively participated in supporting volunteer firefighting efforts.

Also during the summer season, CCG’s Arctic search and rescue program achieved significant milestones in training and community engagement. They provided the first-ever Arctic-specific search and rescue training course to community responders – the Taloyoak Guardians – further highlighting CCG’s dedication to strengthening partnerships with Arctic communities and maritime safety.

On July 28, CCG carried out a passing exercise (PASSEX) with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), near Point Barrow, Alaska. A PASSEX involves vessels sailing alongside each other to practice cooperation between partner agencies. The CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier and USCGC Healy carried out the exercise that included testing various communication methods, small vessel exercises, and sailing manoeuvres. The exercise allowed both coast guards to strengthen our longstanding relationship, and further improve interoperability and collaboration in the Arctic.

On September 29, CCG carried out a joint search and rescue exercise in the Beaufort Sea, with partners from the Royal Canadian Air Force, Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park, and the USCG. The Herschel Island Joint Exercise simulated the response to a fire on board a cruise ship, and tested various elements of maritime and emergency response plans for the Arctic. Exercising with partners allows crews from different agencies to exchange techniques, best practices, Indigenous knowledge, and build relationships with respect to incident responses in Canada’s unique Arctic environment. This in turn helps enhance response capabilities in the event of a major maritime incident in the Arctic.

The CCG’s Arctic seagoing operations will resume in May 2024, however, it maintains a permanent, full-time presence in the Arctic year-round, with offices and bases in Yellowknife, Hay River, and Iqaluit.

Additional multimedia

CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier near Point Barrow, Alaska, on July 28, 2023.
CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier near Point Barrow, Alaska, on July 28, 2023.

Quick facts

  • As of December 15, 2023 our Arctic Operations logged the following:

    • 51 commercial escorts
    • 34 helo-based ice reconnaissance missions
    • 2 commercial harbour breakouts
  • The CCG’s Arctic Marine Response Station in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut operated from June 23, 2023 to October 25, 2023. The station provided essential search and rescue services during the open-water boating season in the areas of Rankin Inlet, Chesterfield Inlet, and Whale Cove. Crews conducted two training exercises, responded to ten search and rescue cases, and travelled over 1,245 nautical miles.

  • CCG’s two specialized buoy tenders, CCGS Dumit and CCGS Eckaloo carried out seasonal buoy tending work on the Mackenzie River to support commercial shipping and community resupply along the river. The CCGS Dumit’s and CCGS Eckaloo’s design allows them to access shallow areas in the river to place, reposition, and maintain navigational buoys. Both vessels are based in Hay River, Northwest Territories.

  • CCG’s Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) Centre in Iqaluit, Nunavut resumed operations on May 15, 2023. MCTS Officers play a crucial role in ensuring safe navigation in the region; they respond to maritime distress calls, manage the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations, broadcast weather and ice information, and navigational warnings. As of December 15, 202 vessels reported to MCTS Iqaluit. MCTS Iqaluit transferred operations to MCTS Les Escoumins on December 15, until the Iqaluit centre reopens in 2024.

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Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

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