Former Coast Guard officer warns that loss of key tool is endangering lives on B.C. coast

Loss of key coast guard tool putting lives at risk on B.C. coast, former officer says


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“A Former Coast Guard Official is Warning of a Major Tool That’s Gone Missing”

According to Fred Moxey, former superintendent of B.C.’s coast guard stations, the disappearance of a capability known as “radio direction finding” has greatly damaged the service’s capacity to locate boats in distress. This problematic revelation follows two tragedy-filled incidents occurring on the west coast that resulted in fatalities. In one incident on October 23, the Coast Guard was unable to locate a man whose tugboat had capsized near UBC’s Point Grey campus, while just days prior, a trawler departing Texada Island vanished, leaving two mariners missing. Despite the tragic and unfortunate outcomes, Moxey remains steadfast in his conviction, “The sad thing about those two incidents is it might have been a different outcome.”

Unrepaired System and Blind Spot in Canada’s Busiest Waterways
While the United States Coast Guard retains robust direction-finding capabilities, British Columbia is now shrouded in a massive blind spot spanning from Vancouver to Campbell River, which inarguably stands as one of the busiest waterways in Canada. This leaves front line rescuers with limited options. The U.S. Coast Guard told Global News that it still maintains strong direction-finding capabilities, a stark contrast to Canada’s current situation. Nevertheless, British Columbia’s problem begs the question: how can mariners be properly informed and what other alternatives can be utilized in life-threatening situations without risking lives and further compounding tragedies?

An Urgent Need for Reform and Safety Measures
Moxey expresses grave concern in regards to the potential of future tragedies, insisting, “This is going to happen again, maybe tonight, tomorrow, on the weekend… And it’s not acceptable to do that.” His pointed warning emphasizes the urgent need for reform within the Canadian Coast Guard, and a greater prioritization in safety measures throughout the network of rescue stations in the region.

In a statement, the Canadian Coast Guard stated that its direction-finding system has deteriorated. They mentioned that they were in the initial stages of a replacement project, and have several other capabilities to aid mariners in distress. However, these plans still raise concerns about mariners’ awareness of the situation and whether they have been appropriately informed. Such a critical tool was offline, and mariners, who might have invested in other lifesaving equipment, were seemingly left in the dark.

What is the real cost when a tragedy happens and lives are lost? The loss of the radio direction finding capabilities raises important questions. The urgent call for reform is necessary to avoid future tragedies. Lives are at stake, and mariners are in jeopardy. It’s time for an immediate solution to prevent a potential crisis that no one could ever afford to face.


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