Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2/12/2013 The Canadian Coast Guard: Editor's Notes 3/2/2015 Links checked, debate over arming the CGC beyond RCMP embarked officers as needed continues, no major new vessels known to have entered the fleet since publication


NAMAZU CONTINUES HIS ADDRESS TO THE ENGLISH SPEAKING NATIONS: THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF COAST GUARD'S TO SEA POWER, A DETAILED LOOK AT THE CANADIAN COAST GUARD


NAMAZU Giant Catfish Former Japanese Demigod, and now Maritime Analyst


Greetings English speaking bipeds!. I apologize for the long pause between posts in this series . For those of you just joining us I have been addressing the English speaking peoples of the world on the evil designs that the Dragon (China) has on your maritime interests in particular and your economies in general, the need to pull together in some sort of English speaking naval union , and the need to build up your individual navies and coast guards. My last post was several days ago where I provided an in depth look at the largest and most heavily armed English speaking Coast Guard, the U.S. Coast Guard and its contribution to the overall sea power of the United States and the English speaking world. Today I'd like to provide you with a description of the English Speaking World's largest unarmed Coast Guard , that of Canada.
While the vessels of the Canadian Coast Guard are not routinely armed I believe that you will see that this unique civilian service adds much to the sea power of Canada and provides some wiggle room for more of the Canadian Navy to surge forward when needed than would be case if this service did not exist.



CCGS/GCC HENRY LARSEN

                   THE CANADIAN COAST GUARD / GARDE COTIERE CANADIENNE

The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) ,Garde cotiere canadienne (GCC) is headquartered in Ottawa , Ontario and is a special operating agency within the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. It has 4,554 employees and a budget of  $258 million annually. It operates 114 vessels and 22 helicopters. The Canadian Coast is a civilian agency though the boat crews are generally uniformed and show rank like insignia associated with merchant marine type ranks and ratings and conform to the typical paramilitary like discipline associated with professional vessel operations. The disciplined and uniformed crews are able to seamlessly interact with the Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Mounted Police and other police organizations when necessary.  The mission of the Canadian Coast Guard has been stated as:

"The Canadian Coast Guard Service supports government priorities and economic prosperity and contributes to the safety, accessibility, and security of Canadian waters."

 The following missions are assigned to the Canadian Coast Guard by the Canadain Oceans Act and the Canada Shipping Act:


  • Aids to Navigation
  • Marine Communications and traffic management
  • Ice breaking and ice management
  • Marine search and rescue
  • Marine pollution response
  • Support of other government departments , boards, and agencies by providing ships, boats, air craft and other services.


CCGS LEONARD J. COWLEY

These missions are very similar to what the U.S. Coast Guard refers to as their "civil missions". All of these civil missions have a direct bearing on the exercise of sea power. The vessels we've depicted so far you have no doubt noticed resemble medium endurance U.S. Coast Guard cutters minus the deck guns. Aids to navigation include the deployment, and maintenance of buoys, lights, and radio direction transmitting and other electronic aids to navigation systems vital to all shipping merchant, naval, commercial fishing and even recreational boating. This is important naval infrastructure. Marine communications and vessel traffic functions like maintaining and operating vessel traffic control systems are not only vital to on water safety but provide a great deal of tactical intelligence for on water security and law enforcement operations as well as search and rescue and emergency response situations. Marine search and rescue is a necessary service for any nation with a coast line and in this the Canadian Coast Guard is assisted by a 5,000 member volunteer auxiliary. Pollution response is also a vital modern day maritime service that is best institutionalized  and kept at the ready. If such services were not provided by a separate and distinct Coast Guard they would probably have to be provided by a mix of agencies including the Navy at a considerable drain on naval budgets. In times of budget cuts naval forces would have to cut both civil missions and combat readiness. Separate Coast Guards keep these missions as separate line items in government budgets and somewhat help avoid negative influences on each other. 


CCGS GRIFFIN , A GENERAL PURPOSE VESSEL WITH A BOOM AND FORWARD  HOLD ABLE TO TO DO BUOY TENDING , LIGHT ICE BREAKING, TOWING, MANY OTHER MISSIONS. SIMILAR SHIPS OF THE U.S, COAST GUARD HAVE BEEN USED AS "MOTHER SHIPS"IN FOREIGN COMBAT ZONES FOR SMALL U.S. COAST GUARD PATROL CRAFT DEPLOYED TO COMBAT DUTY AND IN SALVAGE AND HARBOR CLEARANCE OPERATIONS. HAVING UTILITY SHIPS LIKE THIS IN A NATIONAL FLEET OF GOVERNMENT VESSELS IS A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO OVER ALL SEA POWER.  NOTHING IN THE PRESENT CANADIAN COAST GUARD LEGAL MANDATE WOULD PRECLUDE THE OPERATION Of SUCH VESSELS IN SUPPORT OF NAVAL OPERATIONS. 

 In comparison to the U.S. Coast Guard the glaring difference between the U.S. Coast Guard which is both an armed service and a law enforcement and regulatory agency , and the civilian Canadian Coast Guard is the unarmed and non law enforcement commissioned nature of the Canadian Service. To understand the reason why the service is so far unarmed and not commissioned as law enforcement officers we have to look to existing Canadian law which predates the formation of the Coast Guard. Enforcement of Canada's maritime related federal statutes may be carried out by peace officers serving the various federal, provincial or even municipal law enforcement agencies. 

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Border Service Agencies both have armed, law enforcement commissioned maritime units. The statutory mission of the Coast Guard to "support other government departments boards, and agencies by providing ships , boats, aircraft and other services" provides the law enforcement agencies and navy with the opportunity to utilize professionally operated, highly seaworthy vessels and aircraft when needed with only the need to provide armed and commissioned law enforcement personnel, or such military personnel as needed to carry out military or maritime law enforcement duties. The Canadian Coast Guard maintains a high level of readiness and interoperability with the RMCP, CBSA, and Navy; and in at least one case this level is so high that five integrated Coast Guard operated  multi agency manned vessels are maintained full time with the RCMP/CBSA referred to as IBETS. To conduct its nation wide maritime law enforcement mission the RCMP maintains only five sizable patrol craft. While not assigned to the marine division, the RCMP also has  32 fixed wing air craft and 10 helicopters of potential utility in maritime situations. The RCMP  has 377 small craft ranging in size from canoes to trailer able inboard/outboards . There are approximately 1932 police officers in the RCMP police marine section. Access to the Canadian Coast Guard vessels and ready integrated operations are a force multiplier for this service. Five Canadian Coast Guard vessels are operated constantly with armed law enforcement personnel aboard from police agencies and painted in Coast Guard colors but are also marked on the hulls as "Coast Guard Police". 

 Parliament has been concerned with increasing encounters between Coast Guard vessels and vessels engaged in various criminal activities. As the Canadian Coast Guard patrols the Canadian coast line of some 202,080 kilometers (125,571 statute miles), the longest in the world it is often inconvenient and sometimes dangerous to have the Coast Guard crews unarmed and without law enforcement authority.
The U.S. Coast Guard evolved out of an armed customs enforcement fleet that was created as a naval service form its start during the time when the Revolutionary or "Continental Navy" was disbanded , that fleet was called the U.S. Revenue Marine and was for a short time America's only "Navy". After the permanent establishment of the Navy the Revenue Marine began a long period of absorbing various "civil " maritime missions and agencies such as the U.S. Light House Service and the U.S. Life Saving Service. Eventually in the early 20th century the name for the service was changed from the U.S. Revenue Marine to the U.S. Coast Guard indicating its expanded and diversified missions.  Unlike Canada's Coast Guard which begins with civil maritime missions formerly conducted by a variety of agencies, the United States had a military/law enforcement agency as its core element in the formation of its Coast Guard.

 Arming the Canadian Coast Guard by contrast imposes on the mission and tradition of the RCMP as the national , including maritime, police agency and the Navy as the military maritime force, as well as the Canadian Customs and Border Protection Service's Role.  Yet Parliament has considered mounting deck guns on larger Coast Guard vessels and Ice Breakers in the Arctic due to mounting sovereignty enforcement issues in the High Arctic with Russia, Iceland, and even the United States.  Probably the simplest solution for Canada is already visible in the five integrated units marked "Coast Guard Police". Increase the size of the RCMP maritime division so that it can man both its own vessels and response units and provide an armed  law enforcement presence on those Canadian Coast Guard craft  which need it on a fairly regular basis. Buoy tenders and smaller search and rescue craft may not need such, those may be pressed into service when needed and manned by an RCMP maritime "flying squad" meant for manning "craft of opportunity".

 The Canadian Navy could provide a "Naval Guard" for any deck mounted guns used in the Arctic and the Canadian  Border Services Agency (CBSA) could provide armed boarding teams for sovereignty patrols by the larger Coast Guard vessels. Such an arrangement would require only minor budget increases to the RCMP, Navy, and CBSA. Should the maritime criminal activity and sovereignty threats ever again subside  the standing supports of the RCMP, Navy, and CBSA could be removed with no threat to the total fleet size or budget of the Canadian Coast Guard which would continue its civil missions undisturbed including its mission to be a general vessel and air craft operator in the maritime regions for any government department, board or agency in need of a competently operated platform. The Coast Guard would be able to maintain its civil service /nautical character. It is in effect already a very formidable naval and maritime law enforcement auxiliary force and provider of maritime infrastructure needed by all maritime area users.

CONCLUSION:

 Canada has a strong and impressive Coast Guard Service that should not be underestimated relative to its contribution to national sea power. The nation is having something of a debate over its non military and non police character but the fleet is impressive and well maintained and competently operated there are many options for rapidly arming it if required. Despite all that, it must be acknowledged that like the Canadian Navy the service is just a bit undersized for the actual needs of the nation. With the Bear moving in on the Arctic and the Dragon becoming a regular visitor to the Arctic, NATO  becoming involved off Somalia and expecting contributions in kind from all member states, Canada needs slightly larger forces, not smaller. Canada and the United States need to sit down and make it a priority to resolve their few border issues involving the cod fisheries and the free navigation of straits in the High Arctic. These can't continue to be addressed as minor periodic squabbles between neighbors who basically want to have good relations. The issues must be forthrightly addressed and resolved because both nations need each other and must form a closely cooperative watch in the High Arctic. You don't need periodic incidents quickly handled on an individual basis and swept aside with the underlying causes unaddressed , when you must face the Bear and the Dragon together. 

For Information try these links:
Canadian Coast Guard Home Page:  http://www.ccg-gcc.gc.ca/eng/CCG/Home

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