Juneau, Alaska (KINY) The Coast Guard concluded its annual Arctic Shield operations Monday with the closure of its Forward Operating Location in Kotzebue and the departure of the Cutter Healy from the Arctic.
Air Station Kodiak air crews and two MH-60T Jayhawk helicopters were forward deployed to Kotzebue to provide better response times and coverage to remote regions of Alaska. In addition, the crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Sherman, a 378-foot cutter homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii; the Alex Haley, a 282-foot cutter homeported in Kodiak, Alaska; the Maple, a 225-foot buoy tender homeported in Sitka, Alaska; and the Healy, a 420-foot medium icebreaker homeported in Seattle, Washington; patrolled the Bering, Chukchi and Beaufort Seas in support of maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, community relations, partnership building and scientific research.
Coast Guard crews deployed in support of Operation Arctic Shield, which commenced July 1, responded to 20 search and rescue cases, saving 16 lives and assisting 23 others. Notable cases included a medevac of an injured crewmember from the Chinese research vessel Xue Long near Nome, Alaska, the rescue of two people from a sinking 23-foot skiff in Norton Sound and the rescue of six lost hunters on Saint Lawrence Island.
To prevent hazards at sea, Coast Guard personnel from the 17th Coast Guard District and Sector Anchorage completed 29 bulk liquid facility inspections, 35 commercial fishing vessel safety exams, 53 gold dredge exams and 12 commercial vessel inspections. The Coast Guard also continued its partnership with the State of Alaska's "Kid's Don't Float" campaign by visiting 41 remote villages and educating 4,014 children, predominately in the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta region.
Coast Guard personnel partnered with local, state, federal and tribal agencies to complete multiple search and rescue training exercises, the Arctic Guardian oil spill seminar and equipment deployment in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, as well as a mass rescue tabletop exercise in St. Paul, Alaska.
“The Coast Guard is dedicated to ensuring the protection of the Arctic maritime environment and all those who depend upon it,” said Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, 17th District commander. “Our crews recognize and respect the sensitive environmental characteristics of the region and partner with Northern Alaskan communities to advance our shared interests in maritime safety and security.”
Operation Arctic Shield is the Coast Guard's mobile and seasonal presence focused on performing the service's 11 statutory missions throughout the Arctic to ensure maritime safety, security and stewardship. It is an annual operation that began in 2009.