The North Atlantic Ocean is one of the most hostile marine environments in the world. The Atlantic-Canadians who make their living from the fishery, merchant shipping and offshore oil and gas go about their work shadowed by an ever-present danger.

So why, then, must they rely on a search and rescue service with one of the slowest response rates in the world?

This Friday, Sept. 30, at 9 p.m. ET, the fifth estate’s Linden MacIntyre presents Mayday, a detailed look at the questionable state of Canada’s maritime search and rescue capabilities. The show recounts the memories of those who have survived brushes with death, and the stories of those who perished in the frigid waters, waiting for rescue. There are also new details about the tragedy of the Melina and Keith II, on which four men perished in 2005.

On the show, MacIntyre asks why the Department of National Defence believes three helicopters are sufficient to cover the search and rescue needs of an area the size of Europe, and why required response times can stretch up to two hours.

Mayday airs Friday, Sept. 30, at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC TV.

Discuss Mayday in Digital Home's What's ON Television discussion forum.