For the occupants of any vessel, a call to Coast Guard Radio on VHF channel 16 requires a working radio and a few simple actions. Once performed, mariners are connected to Marine Communications and Traffic Services Officers who, in distress circumstances, will forward calls to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Esquimalt, to request a search and rescue response.
A key portion of this technology is a series of mountaintop sites connected to one another by microwave systems. These sites, high above sea-level, are perched precariously on some of the highest, most rugged peaks of B.C.'s coastal mountains. Coast Guard remote radio peripheral sites house radio communication equipment that transmit and receive radio transmissions broadcast from the various MCTS radio centres. Many of these sites, due to their location, are powered by local diesel generator systems which require annual refueling when conditions allow. The continual maintenance and update of these systems ensures that effective communication between boaters and the Canadian Coast Guard is available even in the worst weather off the Pacific Coast, far away from the sight of land.
Coast Guard's Integrated Technical Services, Marine and Civil Infrastructure (MCI) group is responsible for maintaining Coast Guard's equipment and infrastructure. This is no small task considering the number and scope of their projects. Each of Coast Guard's hundreds of navigational buoys requires maintenance from heavy weather and the occasional ship collision. After old buoys are swapped out for new ones, they are sent to the Technical Services workshops in Victoria where they are cleaned, repaired and repainted. Occasionally special projects require wood or metal fabrication. Such projects produce everything from metal structures for mountaintop sites, to entire footbridge spans to ensure safe access at lightstations. The many facets of Integrated Technical Services MCI group provide expert knowledge and great skill required to ensure Coast Guard sites run smoothly.
Canadian Coast Guard Integrated Technical Services also provides important services to the Coast Guard fleet. As any mariner knows, keeping a ship well-maintained and serviced is vital to ensuring its long life. Canadian Coast Guard ships are well maintained by crews, however, from time to time they also require major re-fits at area shipyards. Undertaking such projects requires a great deal of planning and complicated co-ordination among shipyards, other government agencies and Coast Guard Fleet Operations to ensure that project requirements and timelines are met, and levels of coverage are maintained.
By keeping the Canadian Coast Guard fleet well maintained, Integrated Technical Services helps to ensure that Coast Guard's vessels are able to meet program demands and respond to emergency requests when required.
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