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Under the Fleet Operational Readiness (FOR) program, the Fleet provides safe, reliable, and operationally capable ships and helicopters with competent and professional crews to respond to on-water and marine-related needs of the Canadian Coast Guard, DFO and other federal government departments and agencies. In this way, the Fleet helps its clients carry out their responsibilities of delivering on their operational mandates, business plan commitments, and available funding.

Crane Lifting a Truck onto the CCGS Terry Fox in the NL Region
Crane Lifting a Truck onto the CCGS Terry Fox in the NL Region

In 2009−2010, the Fleet operated 116 vessels and 22 helicopters (see Table 3 for class distribution details). Many of these assets are “multi-taskable”, meaning that they are able to meet the needs of multiple clients during a single mission. Other assets have specialized capabilities to satisfy a particular client or a specific program requirement, such as Ecosystems and Fisheries Management’s (EFM) armed boarding fisheries enforcement requirements.

Table 3: Number of Operational Vessels and Helicopters by Class 2009-2010
Class Number 
Polar icebreaker 0
Heavy Icebreaker 2
Medium icebreaker 4
High-endurance multitasked vessel 7
Medium-endurance multitasked vessel 4
Offshore patrol vessel 4
Mid-shore patrol vessel 11
Offshore oceanographic science vessel 2
Offshore fishery science vessel 4
Air cushion vehicle 4
Special navaids vessel 3
Search and Rescue (SAR) lifeboat 46
Hydrographic survey vessel 5
Channel survey and sounding vessel 2
Near-shore fishery research vessel 5
Specialty vessel 13
Vessel Total 116
Helicopter Total 22
Total Helicopters and Vessels 138

CCGS Tracy, Navigating the St-Lawrence River, QC
Canadian Coast Guard Ship Tracy, Navigating the St-Lawrence River, QC


Canadian Coast Guard prides itself on having adaptable vessels that can deliver a variety of services in a safe, secure, effective, and efficient manner. However, over 70% of the vessels in the Canadian Coast Guard Fleet are beyond the half way mark of their anticipated life cycle, as evidenced in Table 4 which shows the age of vessels by size in 2009−2010. Despite significant investment since 2003, as the vessels age, more breakdowns occur and maintenance costs increase. Additionally, shore-based infrastructure - such as CCG bases, radio towers, and Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) Centres - continue to deteriorate and require additional substantive investment. The challenge for the Fleet is to maintain service levels while dealing with aging infrastructure and technological changes, such as the move away from traditional physical aids toward a modern electronic and information-based service.

The Fleet’s Investment Plan (FIP) is the only means of internal funding available for investment in our vessels, hovercraft, helicopters, and other Fleet-managed assets.

Table 4: Age of Vessels, 2009-2010
VesselsNumberAsset Age
Over 25 Years Old15 to 25 Years OldUnder 15 Years Old
Large Vessels
Design Life - from 25 to 45 years
39 27 12 -
Air Cushion Vehicles
Design Life – 25 years
4 1 - 3
Small Vessels
Design Life - 15 to 20 years
73 14 17 42
Vessels 116 42 29 45
Helicopters 22 11 11 -
TOTAL FLEET 138 53 40 45

This plan, updated yearly, allocates funds over a five-year period based on factors such as the overall condition of assets and the results of regulatory inspections. The Fleet is maximizing the use of annual investment funds (currently $91.5 million/year) to replace smaller vessels and refit larger ones, a majority of which are in the second half of their lifespan.

The Fleet is also continuing to develop its Fleet Renewal Plan (FRP), moving consistently closer to becoming more flexible and mission-ready. The FRP takes into account the government’s evolving priorities and service demands and will allow for greater flexibility to respond to clients’ needs in a complex and changing environment, once fully funded and implemented.

Funding challenges and the aging fleet of vessels and helicopters have led the Government of Canada to approve the portion of the FRP which allows for a number of larger vessels to be built for service-critical programs. The total investment now stands at $1.4 billion for the construction of:

  • Nine Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels;
  • Three Offshore Fishery Science Vessels;
  • One Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel;
  • One Polar Icebreaker; and
  • One Air-Cushion Vehicle.

While these replacement vessels are being built, the Fleet still faces significant challenges stemming from the advanced age of many of its currently-operating vessels, particularly those for which funding for replacement has yet to be addressed. For example, the Fleet’s icebreakers, constructed decades ago, will soon reach the end of their operational lives. These old vessels are expensive to maintain in operating condition, since more frequent maintenance and repairs make them periodically unavailable for service. This, in turn, reduces the Fleet’s overall capacity. More stringent marine regulations in areas such as sewage treatment, asbestos handling, air emissions, and pollution prevention can also impact the Fleet.

The Government of Canada’s 2009 federal budget, entitled Canada’s Economic Action Plan, included $175 million in stimulus funding for CCG to enable the implementation of previously unaffordable projects. This funding was allocated over a two-year period beginning in fiscal year 2009–2010, and is helping build a more sustainable fleet of vessels while benefiting local economies.

Canadian Coast Guard MBB BO-105 Helicopter, NL Region
Canadian Coast Guard MBB BO-105 Helicopter, NL Region

The Economic Action Plan provides funding for Vessel Life Extensions of five key vessels (CCGS Bartlett, CCGS Tracy, CCGS Cape Roger, CCGS Tanu, and CCGS Limnos). It also includes much needed funds to repair larger vessels and for the procurement of 98 new small vessels, lifeboats, barges, and small craft (see Table 5). This will enable CCG to continue to provide services such as Search and Rescue and Environmental Response to marine spills. All major repair work and vessel life extensions announced in the Economic Action Plan are expected to be completed by March 2011.

Table 5: Economic Action Plan for CCG (Stimulus Budget)
VLE CCGS Bartlett 1 64 m PA
CCGS Tracy 1 55 m QC
CCGS Limnos 1 45 m C&A
CCGS Cape Roger 1 63 m NL
CCGS Tanu 1 55 m PA
Refit Targeted vessels 35 Various All regions
Acquisition Near-Shore Fisheries Research vessel 3 2 x 22 m
1 x 25 m
MA and QC
Search and Rescue (SAR) Lifeboats (47-ft Motor Lifeboats - Cape Class) 5 14 m PA, C&A, QC, MA
Environmental Response barges 30 Various National
Small craft 60 Various National

With stimulus funding set to wind down by March 2011, the Federal Government has provided further funds in its 2010 federal budget to help CCG continue to renew its fleet of aging vessels. Budget 2010 provided $27.3 million to replace an aging CCG hovercraft at the West Coast’s Sea Island Base. The new state-of-the-art hovercraft will take over as the primary Search and Rescue response unit. This new funding brings the total amount provided in federal budgets since 2005 to the Canadian Coast Guard for vessel construction and maintenance to more than $2.1 billion.

CCGS George R. Pearkes, High Endurance Multitasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker
CCGS George R. Pearkes, High Endurance Multitasked Vessel/Light Icebreaker

The Fleet’s Investment Plan, recent Government investments and the initial investment in the 30-year Fleet Renewal Plan are helping the Fleet to continually improve the condition of its assets. However, refitting or replacing aging vessels can take years, making it a challenge to sustain the Fleet and its program activities in the interim. Regardless, the Fleet remains committed to making every effort to ensure that its assets are as safe and operationally ready as possible.


Table 6 outlines the new small vessel builds related to the Fleet Renewal Plan initiative.

2009–2010 Results
Entry into service of CCGS Kelso, a Specialty Vessel in Central and Arctic Region to be used for limnographic research in September 2009;
Awarded the contract for the procurement of nine new Mid-Shore Patrol Vessels, the first of which should be ready for service in 2011; and
Procured four new ice operations boats specifically designed for rescue operations, as well as ten new Fast Rescue Craft to replace existing boats near the end of their service life.

Table 6: Small Vessel Replacement
DescriptionQuantitySizeLocationExpected Delivery
Specialty Vessel 2 1 x 18 m
1 x 14 m
Provinces of New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island 2010 and 2011
Search and Rescue (SAR) Lifeboat 5 16 m Pacific Region and the Provinces of Nova Scotia, Ontario, and Quebec 2010 - 2011
Near-shore Fishery Research Vessel 3 2 x 22 m
1 x 25 m
Quebec and Maritimes Regions 2011
Air Cushion Vehicle (Hovercraft) 1 25 m Pacific Region 2013 - 2014


Table 7 outlines the funded new large vessel replacements.

Table 7: Large Vessel Replacement
DescriptionQuantitySizeLocationExpected Delivery
Mid-shore Patrol Vessel 9 43 m National 2011 - 2013
Offshore Fishery Science Vessel 3 65 m MA, NL, and PA 2014 - 2015
Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel 1 90 m MA 2014
Polar Icebreaker 1 140 m TBD* 2017

* TBD, to be determined.

2009–2010 Results
Carried out the detailed design activities for the Offshore Oceanographic Science Vessel. The competitive process for the acquisition is targeted to be conducted in 2010-2011; and
Awarded contract for design and construction of three new Near-Shore Fisheries Science vessels, to be delivered by March 2011.

CCGS Bartlett Gets a New $16.9M Lease on Life

Crossing the Second Narrows Bridge into North Vancouver, it was hard to miss the sight of CCGS Bartlett in the Allied Shipbuilders dry dock just a stone’s throw from the north end of the bridge. Allied Shipbuilders were the successful bidder on both Vessel Life Extension contracts for the 190ft Canadian Coast Guard Ship. The $1.4 million first phase of the project, awarded under the Government’s Economic Action Plan (EAP), was started in July 2009. A second larger $15.5 million contract started in October 2009 and work continued at a hurried pace until its completion in May of 2010. “This refit will ensure that Bartlett is operational for an additional 10 years, doing what it does best: working on the coast, servicing buoys, doing search and rescue, and Environmental Response,” said Louise Ann Granger, Canadian Coast Guard’s project manager for the Economic Action Plan Vessel Life Extension of the Bartlett.

The contract has allowed the company doing the refit to rehire several employees who had been laid off earlier in the year. In addition, the Bartlett project has enabled the shipyard to hire a dozen apprentices in all trade groups, who are obtaining the skills necessary to continue the future of Allied Shipbuilders and the marine industry in British Columbia. The Bartlett project has not only benefited Allied, it has been an economic boom for local industry, with over half of the contract value spent on purchasing material and equipment from local suppliers and manufacturers. Now that the Bartlett’s Vessel Life Extension is complete, the vessel is now ready for another decade of service.

(Source: Dan Bate, Shorelines, Vol. 13, Issue 1)

Search and Rescue Officers on a Fast Rescue Craft
SAR Officers on a Fast Rescue Craft