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A major maritime union says it was shocked to learn about the loss of a key search and rescue tool on British Columbia’s coast.
Global News reported Thursday that the Canadian Coast Guard currently lacks radio direction finding (DF) capacity in much of the Strait of Georgia.
DF is an old, but reliable technology that works by triangulating the source of a radio signal with multiple antennas to find a vessel in distress.
‘This is so concerning. I can’t believe such a simple system has been left to fail,” said Jason Woods, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Marine Section and General Local Workers 400.
“This is a very old system. It’s been around for many, many, many years, and it seems like a lack of planning has let this fall down, for no other reason I can think of than cost.”
Woods said he would expect a tool like radio DF to be a top priority for the coast guard and federal government.
Shoring it up should have been simple given the hundreds of million dollars earmarked for marine safety in Ottawa’s Oceans Protection Plan, he added.
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More frustrating, he said, was that there appears to have been no effort to communicate the gap in capacity to people on the water.
“The first thing I heard about it was from you,” he told Global News.
Nanaimo NDP MP and Critic of the Coast Guard Lisa Marie Barron also expressed concern about the degraded DF capabilities.
“Its one thing to not make the investment in the lifesaving technology that mariners need to remain safe; that in itself is heartbreaking and horrendous to hear,” she said.
“But to add to the matter, to not have this information made available to boaters, to not have that transparency and that information so that boaters can make the appropriate adjustments necessary to ensure safety on the water, it’s just a doubly bad situation.”
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Barron said she intended to press the federal Liberal government on the loss of DF capacity, along with the lack of communication with mariners.
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In a statement, the Canadian Coast Guard acknowledged its direction finding system has fallen “into a state of inconsistent and incompatible service levels.”
The coast guard added it was in the early stages of a years-long replacement project, and that it has several other capabilities available to mariners in distress.
Woods said that work needs to happen sooner than later.
“It’s shameful that Canada is not keeping up to date with their infrastructure when it is that simple,” he said.
“We’re not talking about hundreds of millions of dollars or billions of dollars, we are talking hundreds of thousands of dollars, let’s be real here, and we’re talking about old technology and it works.”
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
We update regularly World Latest Breaking News here. We update 2023-11-18 07:26:26 this news story from official website – https://globalnews.ca/news/10099408/radio-df-coast-guard-questions/.”
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