Indigenous community engagement and a safe sealift highlight CCGS Samuel Risley’s maiden Arctic voyage

CCGS Samuel Risley anchored off Monument Island at Iqaluit Nunavut August 8 2018

CCGS Samuel Risley’s first-ever Arctic mission placed a strong emphasis on Indigenous community engagement and marine safety in remote communities.

Captain John Cork was in command of the icebreaker for the first portion of the mission, and was responsible for ensuring safe transits through the ice for commercial ships re-supplying the U.S. Air Base in Thule Greenland.

After a crew change in Nunavut’s capital city of Iqaluit on August 8 Captain Signe Gotfredsen and crew sailed to the Inuit communities of Cape Dorset and Kimmirut in Nunavut;  Salluit and Kangiqsujuak in Nunavik northern Quebec; and Base Camp Torngat National Park, Hebron Harbour and Hopedale in northern Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Our objective, when we enter communities, is to be respectful, introduce ourselves, try to learn something of the people and places, and relay information about  the Canadian Coast Guard and the work we do in the Arctic during the shipping season,” said Captain Gotfredsen. “Water safety, ice safety, boating and fishing vessel safety are topics of great interest to both the Canadian Coast Guard and residents of coastal communities.  We approached this unique opportunity with a sincere desire to understand these communities and build respectful relationships.  This is what made our mission so successful.”

CCGS Samuel Risley’s officers and crew brought their boating safety expertise to Cape Dorset Nunavut. In return the community shared knowledge of the surrounding marine environment, resulting in an excellent learning opportunity for all.

An especially warm welcome was extended by the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary team in Salluit, which is the second northernmost Inuit community in northern Quebec.  These brave men and women who volunteer their time to save lives on the water put their rescue skills to the test with the Samuel Risley’s crew.  Exercises included use of handheld flare devices, small boat handling, distress and urgency communications and person in the water recovery.

This first visit to the Arctic by CCGS Samuel Risley is a significant accomplishment for the Coast Guard in delivering on commitments under the Oceans Protection Plan to increase the Coast Guard’s presence in the Arctic.

CCGS Samuel Risley is home-ported in Parry Sound Ontario.  The ship has returned to Ontario and is now hard at work servicing aids to navigation on the Great Lakes.

The bond between the Canadian Coast Guard and its volunteer arm the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary is a strong one. Here, CCGA members in Salluit, northern Quebec exercise their search and rescue skills with the crew of CCGS Samuel Risley.

Five other Coast Guard icebreakers – CCGS Pierre Radisson, CCGS Sir Wilfrid Laurier, CCGS Louis S. St-Laurent, CCGS Henry Larsen, CCGS Terry Fox – remain on duty in the Arctic supporting operational and program commitments, such as providing safe escorts of ships through ice-covered waters.



CCGS Amundsen is dedicated to science programs and recently returned to its home port of Quebec City after supporting a total of 135 researchers at over 140 stations across the Arctic.

By Carol Launderville

The latest information about the Coast Guard’s 2018 Arctic operational season can be found in this news release:



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