Central and Arctic Region

Operational Stations
Marine Communications Officers
Located in Les Escoumins, Quebec, about 15 miles east of the mouth of the Saguenay River, the Les Escoumins MCTS Centre provides services for the navigable waters of the St. Lawrence River extending west from 66°00'0'' west longitude to Île Blanche, Quebec, including the navigable areas of the Saguenay River downstream from Chicoutimi

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS)

The history of the VTS Centre in Les Escoumins dates back to 1971-73 when four accidents occurred in the region covered by the Les Escoumins pilot station. This is a particularly dangerous sector because it is a point where vessels going up and down the river alter their course to embark or disembark pilots. Various factors, such as frequent bad weather conditions, heighten the risk of collision, grounding or pollution. The accidents listed in the column of significant VTS events clearly illustrate this point.

After the collision between the Florence and the St. Spyridon, the Marine Safety Advisory Council made the Laurentian Region (Central and Arctic Region now) representative responsible for setting up a special marine safety committee composed of representatives of all St. Lawrence River users and the Department of Transport. The committee was mandated to rapidly submit its conclusions and recommendations in order to avoid other marine disasters at this spot. The committee recommended that marine traffic be monitored actively at Les Escoumins as soon as possible. In addition, the anticipated transit of super tankers in the sector and the eventual construction of a deep water port close to the mouth of the Saguenay River contributed to this ambitious decision put forward by the marine safety committee. However, because of the delays that are usually involved with installing a complex radar surveillance system, it was decided to make temporary use of a vessel radar system available in the Laurentian Region. This interim solution made it possible to reach the objectives set by the Department with respect to vessel safety and environmental protection immediately. In addition, it enabled vessel traffic services to be provided in the sector between the mouth of the Saguenay River and Pointe-au-Boisvert. The necessary communications equipment and the 14/12 Kelvin Hughes radar systems were installed in the trailers at the top of the cliff overlooking the pilot station.

On February 27, 1974, a group of marine traffic regulators came to Les Escoumins for training, which continued on-site until May 1, 1974, when the service was officially inaugurated at the centre. The centre operated in this fashion for about three years until it became outdated. The regional and central headquarters had to review the situation because of the difficulty in providing constant surveillance due to equipment failures and the lack of space and staff. In October 1977, a second group of regulators joined the first group at the centre. On August 14, 1978, Charles Lapointe announced, on behalf of the Department of Transport, that a new radar surveillance centre would be built in Les Escoumins.

Construction of the complex, estimated at $4.45 million, began in the fall of 1979. On October 10, 1981, the staff moved in and began commissioning the system. The official inauguration took place on June 4, 1982. The new equipment at the centre consisted of a Micor VHF system, Thomson-CSF radar, a Leigh tracking system and a 10-metre antenna mounted on a 105-foot pylon that rose 250 feet above sea level.

The Coast Guard radio station services at Mont-Joli were incorporated into the services of Les Escoumins on March 27, 1997.

With this integration, the Les Escoumins Centre provides the marine traffic and radio communications services that are now part of the Canadian Coast Guard's Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre.
Unifor Local 2182
Les Escoumins / VCF
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