Coast guard struggling to help with rescues, Arctic resupply due to old fleet

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OTTAWA — Reduced search-and-rescue coverage, ferry-service disruptions, cancelled resupply runs to Arctic and coastal communities and nearly $2 million in lost navigational buoys.

New documents obtained by The Canadian Press show those are among the real impacts that communities and business are starting to feel thanks to the aging Canadian Coast Guard fleet.

And the problems are expected to get worse: the documents warn that more than a third of the coast guard’s large vessels have exceeded their expected lifespans and many won’t survive until replacements arrive.

Obtained through the access-to-information law, the documents underline many of the stakes facing the federal government and various communities if Canada does not have a capable coast guard fleet.

The federal government recently bought three second-hand icebreakers from Quebec-based Davie Shipyard to pick up some of the slack, but its multibillion-dollar national shipbuilding plan includes money for only one coast-guard icebreaker and four science ships.

Ottawa has been mulling its options for replacing the rest of the fleet amid intense lobbying by Davie and other shipyards, but if a decision were taken tomorrow it would likely take years to get any new ships in the water.

The Canadian Press