Canadian Forces Search and Rescue
Canadian Forces Search and Rescue (CFSAR) (Recherche et sauvetage des Forces canadiennes in French) is the collective name used to refer to search and rescue (SAR) resources and operations within the Canadian Forces. CFSAR is currently the responsibility of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
Military search and rescue in Canada traces its history to 1949 when both the then-independent Royal Canadian Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Canadian Navy began to task aircraft resources for SAR operations and occasionally perform joint operations. Unification of the RCAF and RCN with the Canadian Army in 1968 formed the Canadian Forces (CF), at which time SAR operations were divided between Maritime Command and Force Mobile Command. It was only after the Canadian Forces Air Command (now RCAF) was created in 1975 that SAR responsibility was transferred to a single environmental command in the CF.
Contrary to popular belief[by whom?], the Royal Canadian Navy is not identified as a primary SAR resource under the National Search and Rescue Program, nor does the RCN have a history of operating in this role. The formation of the Canadian Coast Guard in 1962, as well as its civilian predecessor agencies and some volunteer organizations, have held responsibility for the vast majority of maritime SAR operations in Canada since the 19th century.
Search and rescue operations cover the entirety of Canada's SAR Region (SRR) which measures 15,540,000 km2 (6,000,000 sq mi). Resources are operationally administered in three SAR regions by each respective Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC):
- Halifax SRR (administered by JRCC Halifax)
- Trenton SRR (administered by JRCC Trenton)
- Victoria SRR (administered by JRCC Victoria)
Canadian Forces search and rescue resources are mostly in the form of squadrons of dedicated SAR aircraft located at bases across the country supported by 750 personnel, which includes ground crew, air crew, and 150 Search and Rescue Technicians (SAR Techs). CF SAR operations occasionally provide assistance to civilian agencies which lack the resources and equipment to conduct a large scale SAR operation.
- Search and Rescue technicians (SAR Techs)
Search and Rescue technicians are advanced trauma life support pararescue specialists trained in military freefall, diving, mountaineering, rappeling, wilderness survival in extreme conditions, hoist rescue operations and various other rescue-related tasks, such as securing landing zones/drop zones or leading mountain rescue operations in coordination with civilian agencies and volunteer organizations. After a two-week selection period, SAR Techs undergo 11 months of initial training at the Canadian Forces School of Search and Rescue, based at 19 Wing Comox in British Columbia.
- 103 Search and Rescue Squadron - 9 Wing Gander
- 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron - 14 Wing Greenwood
- 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron - 8 Wing Trenton
- 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron - 17 Wing Winnipeg
- 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron - 19 Wing Comox
- CH-149 Cormorant, land-based SAR helicopter
- CH-146 Griffon, land-based SAR helicopter
- CC-130 Hercules, transport and rescue (long-range)
- CC-115 Buffalo, transport and rescue
Additional resources available for SAR include:
- CP-140 Aurora, anti-submarine/marine reconnaissance fixed wing (sometimes used to assist search and rescue in marine operations)
- CH-124 Sea King, anti-submarine/multimission helicopter (sometimes used to conduct search and rescue at sea) (to be replaced by CH-148 Cyclone).
Retired aircraft (1968-present):
- CH-113 Labrador, helicopter (replaced by CH-149 Cormorant)
- CH-135 Twin Huey, land based SAR helicopter (replaced by CH-146 Griffon
- Vertol Model H-21B or Vertol Model 44A (Royal Canadian Air Force)
- Grumman SA-16 Albatross (Royal Canadian Air Force)
- Consolidated PBY Canso (Royal Canadian Air Force)
- C-47 Dakota (Royal Canadian Air Force)
- Sikorsky S-55 (Royal Canadian Navy)