June 2013 rescue of stranded tourists in Nunavut cost $2.7 million
Rescue included costly use of many aircraft
The rescue of about 20 well-heeled southern tourists and their guides last June, after they got stuck on a five-kilometre-long piece of ice in Admiralty Inlet near Arctic Bay, came with a large price tag.
The rescue cost Canada’s military $2,748,046.
That’s according to internal military documents obtained by the National Post through the Access to Information Act.
The bill for the June operation did not include the expenses for the RCMP or search-and-rescuers from Arctic Bay who were also involved.
The travellers found themselves stranded after the piece of ice they were camped on broke away some time during the late hours of this past June 23 or early June 24.
That triggered an emergency response from the Joint Rescue Coordination Center in Trenton, Ont., which sent a Hercules aircraft to drop supplies for the stranded people.
The aircraft came from bases in Winnipeg, Trenton, Ont., Greenwood, N.S., St. Hubert, Que., and Gander, N.L.
Nunavut Protection Services, the Arctic Bay search and rescue group, the RCMP and the Joint Task Force North office in Iqaluit also helped respond.
The local hunters made it back to dry land first, after their part of the ice chunk broke away and moved close to shore.
On morning of June 25, the tourists and hunters were transported by helicopter to Arctic Bay.
By far the largest cost in the rescue operation was sending in aircraft, the National Post reports: three CC-130h Hercules transport planes, two Ch-146 Griffin helicopters and a Ch-149 Cormorant helicopter involved in the rescue.
The rate per flying hour for a Hercules is $30,792; for a Griffon, $11,919; and for a Cormorant, $32,325.
The first Hercules to arrive dropped a “radio message dropper” to both groups, so those on the ground could talk to crews in the air, the National Post said. Over the mission, five were deployed, each costing $493.37.
Three sea-rescue survival kits, with a six-person life raft, survival equipment and radio, were airdropped to the tourists “just as a precaution.” Each costs $23,000. They were unused but can’t be used a second time, the National Post noted.
Also airdropped were five waterproof radio transmitters, costing $352.96, and five light markers at $62.93 each, according to a “Miscellaneous Loss Report” filed after the mission, obtained by the National Post.
There was a total of $2,688 spent on meals, accommodation and incidentals.
The mission also cost $2,903 for civilian overtime and $5,910 for military salaries.
The cost of rescues — and the issue of who picks up the tab — were also raised earlier this month.
That’s after group of Americans who attempted to travel through the Northwest Passage on jet skis for a reality television show were rescued Sept. 3 by the Canadian Coast Guard in the Franklin Strait.
The Coast Guard said rescue operations are funded on a yearly/seasonal basis not on a service basis, so there are no cost estimates or assessments of cost recovery for individual search and rescues.
But a Coast Guard icebreaker costs about $80,000 a day to operate.