The Icebreaking program of CCG provides icebreaking and related services to facilitate the informed, safe and timely movement of maritime traffic through and around ice-covered Canadian waters for the benefit of industry and communities.
This program activity includes escorting ships through ice-covered waters, freeing vessels beset in ice, conducting harbour breakouts, providing advice and ice information and reducing the risk of flooding on the St. Lawrence River through monitoring, prevention and breaking up of ice jams.
The limited number of icebreaking resources are deployed in the winter season as appropriate according to the general Fleet Deployment Plan, the advertized Icebreaking LOS and finally according to a cooperative approach between the four eastern regions, including pre-season planning and post-season review meetings. In-season re-deployment and prioritization are made according to the decisions reached during weekly conference calls (or more frequently as required) between all regions and HQ, as well as during pre-season planning and post-season review meetings.
The Icebreaking program contributes to Arctic sovereignty through the re-supply of northern communities, providing support to other government agencies and organizations and maintaining a visible federal government marine presence in the Canadian North.
To facilitate the safe and timely movement of maritime traffic through or around ice-covered waters
To minimize the effect of flooding caused by ice jams on the St. Lawrence River
To assist in the re-supply of northern communities for which there are no commercial services
Provision of information and advice to the marine community
Provision of icebreaking services
Service: Provision of information and advice to the marine community
Provision of recommended ice routes, ice charts, ice advisories, bulletins, briefings and advice to support safe navigation around difficult areas of ice. This information is obtained through ice reconnaissance and liaison with the Canadian Ice Service.
Monitoring of ice conditions on the St. Lawrence River to anticipate the development of ice jams and flooding and to determine the need for icebreaker intervention
Assisting Transport Canada by activating Ice Control Zones in Eastern Canada and assisting with the Arctic Ice Regime Shipping System, by monitoring the Ice Regime Routing Messages and issuing an acknowledgement to the vessel if the planned route appears appropriate
CCG Ice Operations Centres provide 24/7 services to mariners during the relevant areas as described in the Icebreaking service section.
Ice charts and forecasts in operational areas of interest to CCG are provided daily and weekly.
Service: Provision of icebreaking services
Icebreaking for flood prevention and the clearing of ice jams in the St. Lawrence River
Track maintenance to allow shipping to transit without direct icebreaker support through shore fast ice
Escorting vessels through ice-covered waters
Assisting beset vessels
Breakouts of commercial and fishing harbours
Re-supplying remote northern communities for which there are no commercial services
Supporting Arctic sovereignty in northern communities
Southern Canada (Winter season - generally December to May): East Coast; Gulf of St. Lawrence and St. Lawrence River; Newfoundland and Labrador waters; Great Lakes
Northern Canada (Summer season - generally late June to late October): Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Hudson Bay
All distress and emergency situations take precedence (eg. ice jams) o Service requests from ferry services provided in accordance with the Terms of Confederation / Union will be given priority; other ferry services will receive priority as deemed appropriate by the CCG
Ships with vulnerable cargoes (i.e. pollution potential, dangerous goods, perishable) and vessels transporting cargo that is vital to the survival of communities
Marine traffic, fishing vessels and commercial ports
Fishing harbour breakouts
Commercial harbour breakouts are assigned on an opportunity basis, in ports where no commercial alternatives are available.
Fishing harbour breakouts are coordinated and scheduled for the end of the winter ice season and only if vessels can navigate safely outside the harbour limits.
Ships are assigned on a dedicated basis for flood control operations between Quebec and Montreal, and can provide route assistance on an opportunity basis.
Service dates for specific geographic areas are identified in the attached Annex A – Icebreaking Block Commitments
Target response times for icebreaker assistance are:
Labrador Coast – 8 hours
NE and East Coasts of Newfoundland – 8 hours
West Coast of Newfoundland – 12 hours
Gulf of St. Lawrence – 12 hours
St. Lawrence and Saguenay Rivers – 5 hours
Lakes Huron, Erie, Superior, Ontario – 8 hours
Arctic Waters – 10 hours
Fishing Harbour Breakouts – 24 hours
There are several variables that will affect the response times:
Location of the vessel requiring assistance
Whether the vessel has complied with recommended ice routing and other CCG advice
Whether or not the vessel is beset
Ice and weather conditions
Availability of an icebreaking resource
Proximity of an icebreaker to the vessel (transit time)
Capability of the assigned icebreaker
There are limitations that may affect delivery of icebreaking services:
Severity of ice season
Hydrographic and/or geographic restrictions
Safety restrictions/conditions that would unduly endanger CCG crew, ships or equipment