Search and Rescue (SAR) in Eastern Canada

Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) Halifax leads and directs all SAR operations in the Halifax search and rescue region (SRR). This region covers eastern Canada. The commander of Joint Task Force Atlantic (JTFA) is responsible for SAR operations in the Halifax SRR.

The Halifax SRR has more than 29,000 kilometres of coastline. It is an area of some 4.7 million square kilometres that is 80 percent water. This area includes:

  • all four Atlantic provinces;
  • the eastern half of Quebec;
  • the southern half of Baffin Island in Nunavut; and
  • the north-western quadrant of the Atlantic Ocean.

Regional SAR response centres

JRCC Halifax is located in Halifax, N.S.  The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) run it. JRCC Halifax monitors the eastern region for SAR incidents. It also directs SAR alerts and emergency response in the region.

There is also one Marine Rescue Sub-centre (MRSC) located in Quebec City. The function of a MRSC is to reduce the JRCC's workload in areas of high marine activity.

JRCC Halifax receives about 2500 calls for assistance per year. This breaks down approximately as follows:

  • 75 percent relate to maritime incidents;
  • 10 percent are air incidents; and
  • 15 percent are requests for humanitarian aid.

CAF SAR units in eastern Canada

The Halifax SRR has the following primary CAF SAR squadrons:

  • 103 Search and Rescue Squadron from 9 Wing Gander, Newfoundland. The squadron flies CH-149 Cormorant helicopters; and
  • 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia. The squadron flies:
    • CC-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft; and
    • CH-149 Cormorant helicopters.

Any other CAF or CCG unit may be used to back up the designated SAR units. They can be given the task of a SAR or SAR-like mission if they are:

  • available
  • suitable; and
  • capable.

CAF assets are tasked to respond to approximately 400 SAR missions each year in eastern Canada.

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