Port aux Basques Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre is comprised of the former Port aux Basques Vessel Traffic Services Centre and Stephenville Coast Guard Radio. The strategically co-located services are now provided from the Centre amid the rocky cliff overlooking Port aux Basques harbor.
The MCTS Centre provides a full safety service to mariners. With the provision of a continuous watch on VHF and MF RT combined with the installation of an enhanced radar system in September 2000, the Centre is fully integrated providing the most efficient and effective level of service to the mariner.
With the closure of Come by Chance oil refinery on the Avalon Peninsula and a resource review by the Federal government in the mid 1970s, the Federal government opted to relocate select VHF and radar equipment from Placentia Bay to Port aux Basques.
The Port aux Basques high level Vessel Traffic services Centre commenced operation in January 1978 with an operational staff of 5 Marine Traffic Regulators. The Centre provided assistance to vessels attempting to enter the narrow, fog bound harbor, evading the dangerous shoals. Medical evacuations were arranged through the direction of the Marine Rescue Sub centre at St. John's and the VTS Centre acted as a communications centre during Search and Rescue Missions. Routine traffic included vessel position reports for Ecareg Canada as vessels entered or departed the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) at the heavily transited Cabot Strait.
During the ice season, the recommended route for vessels engaged in international shipping into and out of the Gulf of St. Lawrence converged at an area generally less ice congested off of Port aux Basques. It was here that the marine traffic accumulated with other domestic ferry traffic and significant fishing activity.
In June 1999, Stephenville Coast Guard Radio was relocated to Port aux Basques. Since that date, the integrated Centre has been providing Coast Guard Radio services and Vessel Traffic Services with enhanced radar tracking technology to increased traffic volumes. All remotes sites formerly controlled from Stephenville are now controlled from Port aux Basques.
The importance of the Port aux Basques MCTS Centre is based on its strategic location in the Cabot Strait. The Cabot Strait is one of Canada's busiest waterways linking the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence waterway system to the Atlantic Ocean.