Canadian Coast Guard launches summer operations in Arctic

A file photo of the CCGS Pierre Radisson just outside of Puvirnituq, a village in Arctic Quebec. This summer, the vessel will assist with icebreaking, scientific support and resupplying the U.S. Pituffik Space Base in Greenland. (Eilís Quinn/Eye on the Arctic)

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) has launched its summer operations in the North, deploying seven vessels to the Arctic for tasks ranging from icebreaking to supporting scientific missions in the region.

“The CCG’s annual Arctic icebreaking season allows the safe and efficient movement of vessels and goods in northern waters, which is key to community resupply,” the coast guard said in a news release on Monday. 

“CCG’s presence in Canada’s North also provides key services, such as search and rescue, support for scientific research, marine communications and traffic services, aids to navigation, and marine environmental and hazards response.”

In the Arctic, the Canadian Coast Guard handles search and rescue operations, icebreaking, and scientific research support, marine communications, traffic services, navigation, marine environmental response, and summer re-supplying of northern communities, most of which are fly-in only the rest of the year.

Icebreakers in the 2024 Arctic Operations Season
The Canadian Coast Guard also supports shipping companies during the annual sea lift that resupplies fly-in communities in the Arctic. (CBC)

The seven Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers deployed to the Arctic this year:

  • CCGS Amundsen
  • CCGS Des Groseilliers
  • CCGS Pierre Radisson
  • CCGS Henry Larsen
  • CCGS Vincent Massey
  • CCGS Jean Goodwill
  • CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent  

The Amundsen and the Des Groseilliers left from Quebec City in June.

The Amundsen will break ice in the Hudson Strait, between northern Quebec and Baffin Island, as well as in Frobisher Bay in Nunavut. As a research vessel, it will also be involved in scientific work this summer.

Besides icebreaking, the Des Groseilliers will also refuel the Killiniq weather and communication station and the Eureka weather station in Nunavut. It will also take care of navigational aids that help vessels navigate safely such as buoys, beacons, and lights in the Hudson Strait and for the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) surveys.

The other five vessels will take care of icebreaking in different regions of Arctic Canada over the summer. In addition, the Pierre Radisson will take part in missions like resupplying the U.S. Pituffik Space Base in Greenland, and participating in science missions.

In August, the Louis S. St-Laurent will also participate in the Joint Ocean Ice Study scientific mission in the Beaufort Sea.

“Throughout the summer season, federal government and academic researchers, scientists, and hydrographers will join CCG ships to carry out new and ongoing scientific projects and hydrographic surveys,” the coast guard said.

“CCG will also carry out joint training operations with national and international Arctic partners.”

Centre will handle distress calls, traffic regulations

A file photo of a member of the Canadian Coast Guard in the Marine Communications and Traffic Service operation in Iqaluit. (Andy Clark/Reuters)

In Iqaluit, the Coast Guard runs a seasonal Marine Communication and Traffic Services centre, which opened on May 17. The centre handles distress calls, manages vessel traffic regulations for Northern Canada, and broadcasts weather and ice updates.

The Iqaluit centre will stay open until mid-December. After that, the Marine Communication and Traffic Services centre in Les Escoumins, Quebec, will take over until Iqaluit reopens next year.

The coast guard ships will be deployed in the Arctic until November.

Comments, tips or story ideas? Contact Eilís at eilis.quinn(at) 

Related stories from around the North:  

Canada: Designs released for new coast guard Arctic icebreaker, CBC News

Finland: Cold winter brings out Finland’s icebreakers ahead of schedule, Yle News

Norway: December sea ice levels in Arctic Europe at record low, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian VTB bank to finance the construction of icebreakers, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish icebreaker reaches North Pole for climate study, Radio Sweden

United States: ‘Uber for icebreakers’ idea gains traction in U.S. Senate, Alaska Public Media

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