ARCHIVED - Canadian Coast Guard Business Plan 2010-2013

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Canadian Coast Guard History

The first lifeboat and lighthouses in Canada were established on the east coast during the 1700s. In response to an urgent need for protection and regulation of fishing and shipping vessels, patrol vessels appeared along the eastern seaboard and in the Great Lakes region during the 1800s.

At Confederation in 1867, the federal government assumed responsibility for marine affairs including the operation of government vessels and for various elements of marine infrastructure, including:

  • Aids to navigation;
  • Lifesaving stations;
  • Canals and waterways;
  • Marine regulatory bodies; and
  • Supporting shore infrastructure.

The Department of Marine and Fisheries was established in 1868 to discharge the federal marine mandate. In 1910, the Naval Service of Canada, precursor to the Canadian Navy, was established from a portion of the departmental fleet. Marine and Fisheries became two separate departments in 1930 and, in 1936, responsibility for marine transportation shifted to the new Department of Transport (DOT).

The DOT maintained a fleet of 241 vessels that has subsequently evolved into the CCG fleet. This fleet had a number of missions that now fall under the CCG mandate, including the maintaining of navigation aids, icebreaking, and search and rescue.

Starting in the 1940s, many organizations and communities pressed the government to form a national coast guard. The Canadian Coast Guard was officially created on January 26, 1962. The Canadian Coast Guard College was established in 1965 in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, to train men and women for service in CCG.

The federal government has restructured CCG twice since 1962:

  • With the 1995 merger of Coast Guard into Fisheries and Oceans, the DFO Science vessels and the Fisheries Conservation and Protection fleet were incorporated into the Coast Guard fleet. The merger facilitated better use of resources through multi-tasking vessels and allowed a reduction in the size of the newly combined fleet.
  • In 2005, CCG became a Special Operating Agency (SOA) within DFO. SOA status affirmed the Canadian Coast Guard as a national institution and emphasized its essential role providing the maritime services required by users of Canadian waterways. It also confirmed Coast Guard as the operator of the government's civilian fleet in support of programs within DFO and in other government departments. SOA status enables CCG to focus on service delivery and provides the operational and financial flexibilities necessary to do so.