1. Introduction

Each winter, the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River, Estuary, Gulf of St. Lawrence and the waters around the Newfoundland and Labrador Region become covered in ice, impeding the safe and efficient flow of maritime commerce. In addition, ice can also create flood risks on the St. Lawrence River, thus endangering lives and property. In the Arctic, harsh ice conditions become more manageable for marine shipping during the short navigation season. The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) provides icebreaking and ice management services to support the safe, economical and efficient movement of ships in Canadian waters. The availability of these services helps to ensure reliability and predictability of planning and scheduling activities of the marine transportation industry in ice-covered waters. The presence of a viable, guaranteed icebreaking service is one of the most important factors in sustaining the eastern Canadian and Arctic economies and communities, not only because maritime shipping is the most economical method of transporting large amounts of goods, but also from the perspective of linking these communities to the rest of Canada.

On December 5, 1995, a Joint Industry/CCG Icebreaking Task Force was established to review the icebreaking services provided by the CCG with a view to identify cost reduction strategies and to propose an icebreaking fee structure. In 1997, this task force, chaired by an industry representative, produced the document entitled, “CCG Icebreaker Requirements”, which identified the type, number, timing and location of icebreakers in support of the public good, ferries and commercial users. These requirements were incorporated into the Icebreaking Operations Levels of Service, providing a foundation for the deployment of the core icebreaker fleet necessary to meet the needs of the marine shipping industry.

In May 2009, the National Marine Advisory Board (NMAB) industry members asked the CCG to re-examine the 1997 Icebreaker Requirements, as many changes had occurred over the years. In response, the CCG asked the NMAB members to review and update their icebreaking service requirements and to identify areas where they believed there was an excess capacity, which could assist the agency in aligning to any new demands or adjusting to new priorities. This document summarizes the results of the review of the commercial shipping industry requirements (as represented by members on the NMAB) and serves as a basis for the planning and deployment of icebreaking resources for the next five years.