Western Region

Operational Stations
Marine Communications Officers
Located at Amphitrite Point, near Ucluelet, B.C., the MCTS Centre was established in 1977. The Tofino MCTS area of responsibility (AOR) extends from 124.40 West at the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, encompassing waters off the west coast of Vancouver Island, north to Triangle Island/Cape Scott. By agreement with the United States government, the Co-operative VTS area extends southward along the Washington State coast to 48 degrees north latitude.

Traffic information and services are provided to mariners up to 50 NM offshore. The zone covers over 12,000 square miles along some of the most rugged coastline in North America.

Vessel Traffic Services (VTS)

Throughout history, the southern area along the west coast of Vancouver Island has been known as 'The Graveyard of the Pacific'. The internationally famous 'West Coast Trail', now a part of the Pacific Rim National Park, was established in the late 1800's to provide a means to access for shipwrecked survivors to travel to the lighthouses at Cape Beale or Carmanah. The trail follows the rocky shoreline from Port Renfrew to Cape Beale, some 78 kilometers in length.

In the 1960's and 1970's, as deep-sea traffic into and out of the Strait of Juan de Fuca increased, so too did the conflict between this traffic and the fishing fleets working in the rich fishing banks off the west coast of Vancouver Island. An increasing number of these fishing vessels were being struck, damaged and in some cases, sunk. There was also the problem of some of the mariners being unsure of their location and in extreme cases, running aground and sinking.

Simultaneously, the need for a vessel traffic system for Vancouver Harbour was identified and the result of these concerns was the decision in 1974 to create a vessel traffic system covering all the inside waters of Vancouver Island from Carmanah Point in Juan de Fuca Strait around and up to Cape Scott in the northern end of the island. In 1977, the construction of the second Centre began at Amphitrite Point. Training for the initial Marine Traffic Regulators (MTRs) was conducted at Kap 100, the home of the Vancouver Traffic Centre and at the Pacific Marine Training Institute. The course of instruction lasted some 9 months, and a Transport Canada Ship Safety officer examined the regulators.

The Amphitrite Point VTS Centre was officially opened on the January 2nd 1978, and for the next two months, the staff were deeply involved in geography training and the development of local procedures. VTS watch keeping commenced on March 6, 1978. VHF radio transceivers were located at the chosen radar site atop Mount Ozzard, 3 miles north of and some 2,500 feet above Amphitrite Point. Because the VTS Centre would be dealing with mostly foreign vessels, it was decided that 'Tofino Traffic' would be used as a voice identification. It was considered that it would be easier to pronounce for the deck officers and captains of foreign vessels, instead of 'Amphitrite Traffic' or 'Ucluelet Traffic'.

In July 1978, the radar arrived, and was transported to the site where it was installed high on Mount Ozzard. The 38 foot radar scanner is protected from the strong storm winds by a protective geodetic dome. On August 30, 1978, the radar signal was connected to the radar screens (PPI's) at Amphitrite Point. During the months that followed, the various systems and procedures were brought onto line. On the 17th of November 1978, site acceptance testing began and by November 30th, the system was placed on Operational test. A Notice to Shipping was issued to this effect.

In April 1980, the Tofino Coast Guard Radio Station, operating in conjunction with the Air Services radio (combined marine/aeradio station) at the Tofino airport since 1956, was relocated to the new VTS Centre.

Although co-located at the Centre, the Vessel Traffic Services and the Coast Guard Radio Station worked as two independent operations until the amalgamation into MCTS began in April 1996. The former VTS operations room was redesigned and new consoles built to accommodate the radio services equipment, which was moved into the single operations room. By having cross-trained personnel in the new combined operation, staff numbers were reduced from 24 to 17 persons.

Cross-training of MCTS personnel was completed by the fall of 1998.
Unifor Local 2182
Tofino / VAE
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