Marine Communications and Traffic Services

Description:

  • The Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) program provides safety radio-communication services, vessel traffic services and a commercial marine telephone call service on a 24/7 basis.
  • The safety radio-communication service is provided via a comprehensive system of terrestrial radio facilities which enables communications between ships and shore, in complement to the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and national regulations.
  • Vessel traffic services allow identification and monitoring of vessels, regulation of vessel movements, and provision of navigational information and assistance to encourage safe and efficient navigation and environmental protection. This service provides CCG with enhanced information on vessel transit.
  • In selected areas, the marine telephone call service provides for the exchange of telephone calls between ships and land-based customers. CCG recovers incremental costs associated with this service.

Objectives:

  • To contribute to safety of life at sea
  • To contribute to safety and efficiency of navigation
  • To contribute to the protection of the marine environment
  • To support maritime domain awareness

Services:

  • Provision of distress and safety communications
  • Regulation of vessel traffic in selected Canadian waters
  • Screening of vessels entering Canadian waters
  • Provision of marine information in support of activities
  • Provision of commercial marine telephone call service

Service: Provision of distress and safety communications

Service

  • Response to calls for assistance from suitably equipped ships as per the following coverage areas:
    • Very High Frequency (VHF) Band coverage by Radiotelephony and Digital Selective Calling (DSC) (Sea Area A1):
      1. West Coast – Those waters within 40 nautical miles of the West Coast of Canada, including those bays, coves and inlets that have unobstructed signal paths from VHF radio facilities.
      2. East Coast – Those waters within 40 nautical miles of the East Coast of Canada, as far north as NainFootnote 1 (Labrador – 57N), and as far west on the St. Lawrence River as a straight line from Cap des Rosiers through Pointe de l’Ouest, Anticosti Island extending along the north shore, the south shore and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including those bays, coves and inlets that have unobstructed signal paths from VHF radio facilities.
      3. St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes – Canadian waters within 40 nautical miles from the shore, from Cap des Rosiers through Pointe de l’Ouest, Anticosti island, extending along the north shore, as far west as Thunder Bay, including the Saguenay River (excluding Lac St-Jean), the Richelieu River up to the US border (seasonal basis), the Ottawa River up to Carillon, Georgian Bay and those bays, coves and inlets that have unobstructed signal paths from VHF radio facilities.
      4. Lake Winnipeg (seasonal basis – radiotelephony only) – Those waters of Lake Winnipeg within a 40 nautical miles radius of Fraserwood, Jackhead, Beaver Creek and Long Point including those bays, coves and inlets that have unobstructed signal paths from VHF radio facilities.
      5. Lake Simcoe (seasonal basis) – Those waters of Lake Simcoe within a 40 nautical miles radius of Orillia Point including those bays, coves and inlets that have unobstructed signal paths from VHF radio facilities.
      6. Arctic (seasonal basis- radiotelephony only) – Those waters within a 40 nautical miles radius of Churchill, Iqaluit, Resolute Bay (Quasuittuk), Cambridge Bay, and Parson’s Lake including those bays, coves and inlets that have unobstructed signal paths from VHF radio facilities.
      7. Those waters of Great Slave Lake, within a 40 nautical miles radius of Enterprise and Yellowknife (seasonal basis- radiotelephony only) including those bays, coves and inlets that have unobstructed signal paths from VHF radio facilities.
    • Medium Frequency (MF) Band coverage by (2MHz) Radiotelephony
      1. West Coast – Those waters within 150 nautical miles radius of Prince Rupert, Hunter Point and Amphitrite Point.
      2. East Coast – Those waters within 150 nautical miles radius of the East Coast of Canada, as far north as 60N including the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
      3. Arctic (seasonal basis) –  Those waters within a 150 nautical miles radius of Iqaluit, Killinek, Coral Harbour, Resolute Bay (Quasuittuk), Churchill, Inuvik and Cambridge Bay.
    • High Frequency (HF) Band coverage by Radiotelephony and DSC (Sea Area A4):
      1. West Coast – Radiotelephony coverage is provided within an 800 nautical mile radius of the MCTS Centres at Tofino and Prince Rupert
      2. Arctic (seasonal basis) – Coverage is provided to the Arctic Ocean and Hudson Bay, within an 800 nautical mile radius of Iqaluit, Killinek, Coral Harbour, Resolute Bay (Quasuittuk), Churchill, Cambridge Bay and Inuvik and to the Mackenzie River from Hay River and Inuvik

Note:

  1. Coverage areas are specified in relation to specific locations; these locations constitute reference points only and are not necessarily the actual physical locations of the radio facilities.
  2. In the case of VHF (156-174MHz), the signal strength is based on a ship antenna height of 10 meters.
  • Some MCTS Centres provide an advisory VHF Direction Finding (DF) service within range of radio receiver site facilities. DF information concerning position, bearing and distance is provided for use at the discretion of the mariner.
  • MCTS Centres broadcast marine safety information through continuous, scheduled and unscheduled broadcasts to provide mariners with information such as weather bulletins, ice information, and notices to shipping (NOTSHIP) concerning the operational status of navigational aids and dangers to navigation.
  • Provision of electronic version of written notices to shipping for those that were previously broadcast and remain in effect.
  • Provision of a sail plan service for small craft operators unable to file a sail plan with a responsible person. Sail plans are accepted in person or via telephone only.
  • MCTS Centres accept, free of charge, messages related to safety. Included are Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue System (AMVER) reports, radio medicals, weather observation report, dangers to navigation reports, Canadian pilotage messages.
  • The Mackenzie River Marine Safety Advisory System is provided from Inuvik MCTS. Danger areas have been designated and reporting procedures have been established for vessels transiting the river from mile 0 to mile 1081 and for vessels entering or leaving restricted channels.
  • CCG publishes Radio Aids to Marine Navigation (RAMN) which presents information on radio communications and radio navigational aids services provided in Canada by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Note:

All VHF, MF, HF and DF radio facilities, as well as broadcast schedules and sea area descriptions, are listed in RAMN.

Service Standard

  • International distress, safety and calling channels and VHF/DSC are continuously monitored; in cases of emergencies, the SAR Authorities are alerted within two minutes of key information being gathered and processed.
  • The system availability of MCTS safety communication services (percentage of actual time that the required systems are operational as compared to the total hours of authorized service) shall not be less than:
    • 99.7% in each of the MF , HF and VHF radiotelephony and HF and VHF/HF DSC bands
  • Due to the nature of radio propagation in the MF band in the Arctic and ice covered waters, the 150 nautical miles is attainable only 50% of the time.
  • Due to the nature of radio propagation in the HF band, propagation disturbances affect HF communications more frequently in the Arctic than in the other areas.
  • Navigational and meteorological information shall be broadcast within two minutes of receipt. Routine information will be broadcast as per advertised schedules. In the case of Continuous Marine Broadcast (CMB), the update will be completed within 15 minutes of receipt.
    • 99.5% availability for each method of broadcast which requires a specific frequency (e.g. Navtex, Facsimile, Continuous Marine Broadcast)
  • Summaries of written NOTSHIPs are provided on a weekly basis.
  • Radio Aids to Marine Navigation (RAMN) is published annually and revised monthly (when required) by Notices to Mariners.

Service: Regulation of vessel traffic in selected Canadian waters

Service

  • Information service: Provide information to assist on-board decision-making. In some areas, radio-communications are supplemented by shore-based radar and AIS surveillance equipment and closed-circuit television.
  • Traffic organization service: Provide, based on known traffic and waterway conditions, advice, recommendations, and direction, including the delivery of clearances and, under certain conditions, restriction of traffic movements.
  • Navigational assistance service: Provide navigational assistance in an area of radar coverage, at the request of vessels in difficult navigational or meteorological circumstances, or in the event of vessel defects or deficiencies.
  • The following are the established Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) zones:
    • St. John’s
    • Placentia Bay
    • Port aux Basques
    • Strait of Belle Isle (voluntary)
    • Halifax
    • Strait of Canso and eastern approaches
    • Northumberland Strait
    • Bay of Fundy
    • St. Lawrence Waterway
    • Vancouver
    • Tofino
    • Prince Rupert
    • Sarnia

Service Standard

  • MCTS Centres continuously monitor VTS radio frequencies and surveillance sensors and promulgate information and clearances as required.
    • The availability of VTS system, VHF, AIS, and radar equipment (percentage of actual time that the required systems are operational compared to the total hours of authorized service) shall not be less than 99.7%.

Service: Screening of vessels entering Canadian waters

Service

  • Screening and issuance of clearance following receipt of a complete report from a vessel:
    • On a mandatory basis for all ships prior to entrance in Canadian waters, where the ship is of 500 tons gross tonnage or more, is engaged in towing or pushing another vessel, where the combined tonnage of tug and tow is 500 tons gross tonnage or more, or is a ship of any tonnage engaged in the carriage of dangerous or pollutant cargo as prescribed in the regulations for the following zones:
      • The Eastern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone (ECAREG) shall consist of the Canadian waters on the east coast of Canada south of the sixtieth parallel of north latitude and in the St. Lawrence River east of 66°00′ west longitude except the waters within Ungava Bay and the waters within the Vessel Traffic Services Zones referred to in the Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations.
      • Western Canada: Includes all Canadian waters on the West Coast of Canada as described in the VTS Zones Regulations.
    • On a voluntary basis for the Arctic Canada Traffic System, apply to every ship 300 tons, gross tonnage or more, in the following zone:
      • The Arctic Canada Traffic Zone (NORDREG) (voluntary): Those waters of Ungava Bay, Hudson Bay and James Bay south of 60N and the waters to which the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act applies. The Arctic Canada Traffic zone excludes Mackenzie Bay and Kugmallit Bay south of 70N and east of 139W.

Service Standard

  • The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Service: Provision of marine information in support of activities

Service

  • Provision of marine information in support of activities of departments and agencies of the Government of Canada and marine industry
  • Notices to Fishers (NOTFISH) radio broadcasts notify persons on fishing activities such as openings, closings and changes to regulated fishing activities in designated fishing areas

Service Standard

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Service: Provision of commercial marine telephone call service

Service

  • Provision of marine telephone call service, on a cost recovery basis, to enable communication domestically and internationally with vessels at sea and land-based customers via VHF, HF, and MF, as demand dictates and in limited areas. (Note: Areas excluded are the Pacific Region and, in the Quebec Region, at the MCTS centre in Quebec).

Service Standard

  • System availability shall not be less than 99% for the commercial marine telephone calls service in each of the VHF, MF and HF bands.
Footnote 1

With the exception of the following areas of Newfoundland and Labrador: Rigolet, the eastern end of Lake Melville (54N to 55N), Black Tickle (52 30N to 53 30N) and White Bay (50N to 50 30N)

Return to footnote 1 referrer