Victoria Search and Rescue Region

The Victoria Search and Rescue Region (SRR) covers the following area of land and sea:

  • the Province of British Columbia and Yukon Territory, together comprising about 1,427,000 square kilometers of mainly mountainous terrain; and
  • some 687,000 square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean, extending to about 600 nautical miles off Canada's west coast.

Although much of the land area of the Victoria SRR is rugged, sparsely populated and often inaccessible, the region attracts extensive recreational activity that can give rise to search-and-rescue (SAR) incidents: for example, cruise ships, fly-in fishing, kayaking and pleasure boating. The region also includes Vancouver, one of the largest shipping ports of North America.

The commander of Joint Task Force Pacific also commands the Victoria SRR.

Resources in the Victoria SRR

Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre

The Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC Victoria), in Esquimalt, B.C., is the joint Canadian Armed Forces–Canadian Coast Guard centre for SAR monitoring, alerting and emergency response in the Victoria SRR.

SAR units

The primary SAR squadron of the Victoria SRR is 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron from 19 Wing Comox on Vancouver Island, flying CC-115 Buffalo tactical transport aircraft and CH-149 Cormorant helicopters.

Canadian Coast Guard vessels provide the maritime SAR response capability in the Victoria SRR.

To augment the efforts of designated SAR units, any other unit of the Canadian Armed Forces or the Canadian Coast Guard that is available, suitable and capable can be tasked to any SAR mission, or to any incident requiring SAR-type response for humanitarian reasons.

Non-governmental participants in SAR operations

Volunteer organizations such as the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and the Civil Air SAR Association (CASARA) are important contributors to SAR operations.

Commercial and private vessels and aircraft operating or in transit near the scene of an incident may also be asked to join the SAR effort.

SAR operations in the Victoria SRR

JRCC Victoria responds to approximately 3,000 SAR calls per year, of which about 75 percent relate to maritime incidents, 10 percent are air incidents, and 15 percent are requests for humanitarian assistance. Late spring — May and June — is the busiest time of the year for maritime responses.

Because the Victoria SRR extends north to the Arctic Ocean, and west and south to the territorial waters of the United States, JRCC Victoria has developed excellent working relationships with JRCC Trenton, which covers the adjoining Trenton SRR, and with the U.S. Rescue Coordination Centres in Juneau, Alaska; Elmendorf, Alaska; and Seattle, Washington. Joint operating agreements and special customs procedures promote maximum cooperation that provides an optimal response to distress calls in both countries.

When a SAR mission must be conducted on land or in the inland waters of the Victoria SRR, except in National Parks, which are federal lands administered by Parks Canada, primary responsibility lies with the government of the province or territory where the incident took place, which delegates the authority to initiate SAR operations to the police service with jurisdiction. In the Victoria SRR, the police force with jurisdiction is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, except in cities, towns and regional municipalities that have municipal police services.

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