Your Coast Guard in 2011 – Alaska

The U.S. Coast Guard lived up to its motto of being “Always Ready” in 2011 – from interdicting the first drug sub in Caribbean waters to providing humanitarian relief to a drought-stricken island nation, Coast Guard crews had a remarkable year. As 2011 winds down, Compass brings to you “Your Coast Guard in 2011” – a series highlighting the top stories, missions and cases from around the nation. Continue to visit us this week to read about the remaining districts and the extraordinary men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Yesterday we took you to the Pacific Islands, but today we take a drastic turn north to the Arctic and the men and women of the 17th Coast Guard District.

Coast Guard line handlers battled fierce winds while waiting as the Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Healy arrives in Seward Nov. 1. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

Coast Guard line handlers battled fierce winds while waiting as the Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Healy arrives in Seward Nov. 1. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

Written by 17th Coast Guard District Public Affairs.

With an increasing number of eyes on the Arctic, Coast Guardsmen spent 2011 testing capabilities, building partnerships and rapport with Native Alaskans and keeping a vigilant watch above the Arctic Circle in some of the most challenging marine operation environments on the planet.

Cutters, aircraft respond

Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, the first of eight planned national security cutters, conducted its first Bering Sea patrol in Alaskan waters to safeguard the lives of those operating in Western Alaska and protect Alaska’s abundant living marine resources. Patrols were also conducted by the Kodiak-based Coast Guard Cutters Munro and Alex Haley as well as four other West Coast cutters

The Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew navigates through the ice near the North Pole to retrieve canisters airdropped from an Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew Sept. 7. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

The Seattle-based Coast Guard Cutter Healy crew navigates through the ice near the North Pole to retrieve canisters airdropped from an Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules aircrew Sept. 7. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

The crew of the ice-breaking Coast Guard Cutter Healy supported scientific experiments in the Arctic Ocean. As part of its seven-month Arctic West patrol, Healy worked closely with the Canadian coast guard ship Louis S. St. Laurent to further map the extended continental shelf through underwater surveys.

Kodiak-based HC-130 Hercules airplane crews conducted arctic domain awareness flights between March and November. The aircrews surveyed North Slope coastal villages for erosion and assessed the ice and vessel traffic. They also worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, supporting air-sampling research over the Brooks Range to help scientists understand more about the region’s natural emissions.

Operation Arctic Shield

Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf departs Dutch Harbor May 9, in support of a fisheries and law enforcement patrol in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen.

Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf departs Dutch Harbor May 9, in support of a fisheries and law enforcement patrol in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen.

Operation Arctic Shield was conducted above the Arctic Circle from April through September testing several Coast Guard boats and aircraft and involving numerous state agencies. More than 250 Coast Guardsmen deployed to support this operation where they honed their skills in performing Arctic operations to better support the region.

Coast Guard Cutter Spar, with Alaska National Guard and industry resources, tested a new cold weather emergency towing system north of the Arctic Circle which is a vital capability in performing the service’s search and rescue mission. The Coast Guard, Air Force, Alaska Air National Guard and North Slope Borough conducted a two-day search and rescue exercise off the coast of Barrow to assess joint agency capabilities during a simulated marine casualty. These joint agency efforts are fundamental to ensure each agency knows its capabilities and can work successfully together in this remote region.

Native Alaskans have survived the harsh elements and remoteness on the North Slope for hundreds of years. They are vitally interested in the opportunities and the risks that come with increased activity in the Arctic.

Partnerships

An Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen looks back into a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak-based HC-130 Hercules airplane while he and three other rescuemen jump out of the back of the plane during a joint rescue deployment exercise held north of Anchorage June 23.  U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

An Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen looks back into a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak-based HC-130 Hercules airplane. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Mosley.

Coast Guard Auxiliarists, which make up the service’s volunteer force, educated more than 450 Barrow students about boating safety as part of a broad effort to build relationships and understanding in the region. In addition, a team of doctors administered care to more than 250 patients ranging from adolescents to elder leaders as well as performing four minor surgeries. A team of Public Health Service veterinarians also cared for more than 100 dogs and cats in several remote North Slope villages.

International partnerships continued to grow with the signing of an Arctic search and rescue agreement in May. This brought together leaders from seven Arctic nations: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, the Russian Federation and Sweden, assigning to each nation a particular region of the Arctic in which to maintain search and rescue responsibility, coordination and control.

As 2011 comes to a close, activity from the world’s Arctic nations continues to significantly grow, especially in the sectors of commercial shipping, exploration and tourism. The Coast Guard will continue to test its capabilities and hone response efforts by maintaining close working relationships with Native Alaskans, exercising international agreements and overcoming the logistical and resource challenges that result from operating in remote locations.

The towing detail aboard Kodiak-based 225-foot Coast Guard Cutter Spar conducts a towing exercise three miles offshore of Kotzebue Aug. 9. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

The towing detail aboard Kodiak-based 225-foot Coast Guard Cutter Spar conducts a towing exercise three miles offshore of Kotzebue Aug. 9. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

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  • Glenn Gilz

    Your services are greatly appreciated by many people in the fishing industry. Thank you

    Glenn (Cap’n Gilz)

  • Ed Stewart

    Any more news of the Nathan E Stewart ? (K-sea tug)

  • LT Stephanie Young

    Ed Stewart,

    I reached out to our 17th District public affairs staff and they passed on the following information.

    The tugs Le Cheval Rouge, Nathan E. Stewart and barge DBL-55 transited into Icy Strait through North Inian Pass and anchored in Mud Bay to reset/reconfigure the tow gear Tuesday. The towing operation resumed Tuesday afternoon and they made it to Skagway shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday. Coast Guard Cutter Maple served as an escort and was released from the case once the tow was reset in Mud Bay. They returned to homeport in Sitka. Sector Juneau Prevention staff, company representatives and engine technicians will attend Nathan E. Stewart in Skagway.

    Hope that helps!

    Very Respectfully,
    Lt. Stephanie Young
    Coast Guard Public Affairs