The Coast Guard concluded its annual Arctic Shield operations Sunday with the seasonal closure of its Forward Operating Location in Kotzebue, Alaska.
Air Station Kodiak air crews and two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters were forward deployed to Kotzebue to provide better response times and coverage to remote regions of Alaska during increased summer boating traffic.
In addition, the crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Kukui, a 225-foot seagoing 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 10 search and rescue cases, saving 25 lives.
To prevent hazards at sea, Coast Guard personnel from the 17th Coast Guard District and Sector Anchorage completed 172 facility inspections, and 405 commercial fishing vessel safety exams. The Coast Guard also continued its partnerships and provided critical support to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Office of Naval Research.
“The Coast Guard is dedicated to ensuring the protection of the Arctic maritime environment and all those who depend upon it,” said Cmdr. Molly Hayes, Operation Arctic Shield operational planner, Coast Guard District 17. “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.