Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

June 02, 2007 13:00 ET

DFO: College Officer Cadets Join Ranks of Coast Guard

SYDNEY, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - June 2, 2007) - The Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, today attended ceremonies honouring graduates of the Canadian Coast Guard College, where he personally congratulated the 28 newest officer cadets for completing their programs.

"As a maritime nation, Canada's oceans and waterways are important to our country's economic success," noted Minister Hearn after inspecting the troops. "As new members of the Coast Guard, you will be major contributors to that ongoing success."

Of the 28 graduates, three are international students who will return home with their newly acquired skills. The remaining 25 will soon leave the College campus to make their way to various Coast Guard stations across Canada to take up active positions. Among the graduates will be 13 new navigational officers, and 15 new marine engineers.

The graduation ceremonies were formal: dignitaries were piped in by bagpipers, followed by the cadets, who were paraded in and inspected by the Minister, and handed their diplomas. Elron Lilgert, the Chief Cadet Captain, presented a farewell address to the graduating class.

"Canadian Coast Guard's commitment to excellence is second to none," noted Minister Hearn as he addressed the graduates. "Today, these young people join the ranks of that proud national institution."

Since taking office, Canada's New Government has increased support for the Coast Guard substantially. Budgets 2006 and 2007 saw a collective $700 million to renew the fleet, and additional funds of $45 million a year were added to Coast Guard's permanent budget last year to help manage rising operating costs.

Since 1965, the College has offered young people an education unlike any other. Graduates of the Canadian Coast Guard Officer Training Program receive commercial certification in either marine engineering or marine navigation, a Bachelor of Technology in Nautical Science degree from Cape Breton University, and a diploma from the College.

In exchange for their four-year education, the graduates commit to work four years with Canadian Coast Guard. Many will parlay those four years into a life-long career with the Agency.

A backgrounder related to this announcement is available on the DFO website


The Canadian Coast Guard College Prepares 28 New Officers for a Life at Sea

On Saturday, June 2nd, the Canadian Coast Guard College in Sydney, Nova Scotia saw 28 officer cadets (three from Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, who will return home and 25 Canadians) cast off for an exciting career with the Canadian Coast Guard. Surrounded by proud families and friends, these young women and men paraded one last time at the College. Early the next day, they prepared to leave the campus that had been home for the past four years and bid farewell to fellow students that had become family, to make their way to Coast Guard stations around the country and report for their first ship assignments.

For more than 40 years, the College has offered young people an education unlike any other. Opened in 1965, it soon built a solid reputation for top-notch maritime training - taught in both French and English. Over the years, thousands of students have graduated from the institution, taking their acquired skills not only across Canada, but around the globe, as well.

When the College first opened, it accepted only young men in the four-year officer training program. In 1973, the College extended its welcome to women as well, and the first four female navigation officers joined the Coast Guard fleet in 1977. The first female engineer graduated in 1978, and continues to serve within Coast Guard today in a senior position.

Offered at the College

Graduates of the Canadian Coast Guard Officer Training Program receive commercial certification in either marine engineering or marine navigation, a Bachelor of Technology in Nautical Science degree from Cape Breton University, and a diploma from the College.

Marine engineers operate, maintain and optimize the ship's propulsion power plant. They also maintain electric, refrigeration, hydraulic, pneumatic, pump, piping and fuel systems. Students become familiarized with advances in electronics, energy-efficient technology and the use of microprocessors, as well.

Navigation officers are responsible for safe navigation of the ship, maintaining contact between the ship and the outside world, the ship's stability, search and rescue, aids to navigation and icebreaking, and landing supplies in isolated areas.

In recent years, the College has added a number of programs to its roster. The Marine Communications and Traffic Services basic training course is a nine-month program that instructs students in marine traffic regulating procedures and radio communications. The College also offers environmental response courses to government departments and private sector individuals involved in oil spill response.

Search and Rescue (SAR) skills are taught in a nine-week course that includes a model of operations for a typical Coast Guard lifeboat station or small vessel station. The SAR program also offers custom-tailored training and SAR system analysis, as well as technical and software support for the Canadian Search and Rescue Planning Program.

More than an education

While students master navigational systems and ships' engines, they also learn some important values. As a residential facility, the College instils the sense of family and teamwork that officer cadets quickly come to appreciate once they take up their first vessel assignment.

In exchange for their tuition-free education, room and board and escalating monthly allowances, Canadian graduates commit to work four years on board Coast Guard vessels as officers and engineers. After that period, many opt for a life-long career with the Coast Guard.

Much of the training offered at the College includes the use of simulators designed to mimic complex navigation and engine propulsion systems. Simulators offer students safe, effective and controlled environments in which to learn the required specialized skills that will help them in their day-to-day role as officers.


The College accepts applications for enrolment from November until January for the following academic year, which begins in September. Potential recruits should contact the College either by calling 1-902-567-3208 or by going to their web site at There are prerequisites for acceptance in the officer training program, such as math, physics and chemistry; students are encouraged to contact the College early - both in their academic studies and the school year - so they can adjust their course stream to avoid disappointment.

Contact Information

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
    Catherine Barratt
    Communications Branch