Atlantic Region

Operational Stations
Marine Communications Officers
The VTS zone under the responsibility of St. John's MCTS covers 375 square miles with 7 Calling-in-Points extending from Cape St. Francis in the North to Bull Head in the South and extending seaward to the 12 mile limit as well as St. John's Harbour.

The CG Radio area extends from Cape Freels southward to Cape Race and operates VHF and MF remote sites located at St. John's, Cape Bonavista, Victoria and Lumsden.

The VTS and CGRS services integrated in March 1998.

Coast Guard Radio Station (CGRS)

What is now St. John's Coast Guard Radio/VON has its history in 2 separate stations. There was a VON as far back as 1920. This station was located at Cabot Tower, overlooking the harbour of St. John's. This station was operated by Canadian Marconi and provided radiotelegraph wireless communications to ships at sea and message relay to and from Labrador.

This station was an important link in the communication between local companies and their fleets of merchant vessels. When a vessel was observed approaching the harbour and its company determined, the company flag would be flown from the station flagpole and the merchants would have advance notice and contact the stevedores so unloading/loading could commence as soon as possible.

During Word War II, the station's strategic importance as a marine facility was recognized due to the large amount of Allied shipping transiting the area in convoys to Europe and it was equipped as a Marine radio station and interestingly enough, in 1940 was the first station in Newfoundland to use ship to shore radio telephone voice communications. The station was also now offering a radio Direction-finding service. Up to that time, Morse code was the primary means to communicate.

In 1956, this station was moved to the Airport Tower Building at Torbay, just outside St. John's and co-located with the Air radio station. In 1957, the Department of Transport took over the station from Marconi and continued to operate from that site until 1962.

In 1962, VON was moved again, this time across the airport to a new building adjacent to the terminal. In the early 1980's, it was decided that the Air and Marine radio should be separated and VON moved again in 1981. This time to a building built especially for it on Majors Path, just a short distance from the airport.

In 1998, as part of the National plan to reduce the number of Coast Guard Radio Stations and Vessel Traffic Services Centres and co-locate them where possible, VON was moved to the Coast Guard base on the South side of St. John's harbour and along with St. John's Traffic, Ecareg and the Notice to Shipping Desk is now known as St. John's Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre.

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS)

By the early 1970`s, the Canadian Coast Guard began providing marine services from the Southside Base in the port of St. John's. This Centre was called 'Pilotage and Marine Operations'. The main role of the port of St. John's and other Newfoundland ports was to provide a coordination Centre for the Coast Guard's response to all marine incidents. The Traffic Centre assumed responsibilities for Notship preparation and distribution, pollution reporting coordination, ice information, traffic control for the port of St. John's, casualty reporting coordination, regional communications Centre for Fleet Operations and other Coast Guard operations, coordination with Port aux Basques and Argentia Traffic Centres and involvement in Search and Rescue responses to marine incidents.

In 1977, the Traffic Centre became one of the three Ecareg Centres responsible for administering the Eastern Canada Traffic Zone Regulations. The role of the St. John's Ecareg Centre is a particularly vital one due to the fact that it is the first contact with most ships entering Canadian waters. Many incidents related to heavy ice, iceberg collisions and cargo shifting resulting from North Atlantic storms are handled by the St. John's Centre. Also, in 1977, the Marine Search and Rescue Sub-Centre was officially designated for St. John's.

During the first years of operations, the duties were performed by the Marine Traffic Regulators. SAR controllers assumed responsibility for the Search and Rescue Sub-Centre in 1978. VTS became mandatory in 1989 and SAR and Ice Operations became separate branches within the VTS Centre.
Unifor Local 2182
St. John's / VON
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