Arctic Small Boat operations at full speed in Barrow

BARROW, Alaska — Coast Guard small boat crews spent their second full day testing in the Arctic Ocean off of Barrow Thursday, continuing the Coast Guard’s focused effort in finding the challenges of Arctic operations and how to over come them.

Two very different boats are being tested, the first is a 25-foot defender class response boat, and the second is a 24-foot response boat. The 25-foot boat, is the primary safety and security response boat for the Coast Guard, which is crewed by three-members of Coast Guard Station Valdez. In addition, a three-member team from the Pacific Area Environmental Strike Team is operating the 24-foot boat; this specialty boat from the Strike Team’s Ne Viejo, Calif. base is used for response to environmental pollution incidents along the West Coast of the United States.

“It is very important for us to test up here,” said Lt. Cdr. Michael McNeil, operations commander Coast Guard forward operating location Barrow. “There are unique challenges to operating in the arctic, including a harsh environment, vast distances and communication difficulties which need to be overcome in order to operate along Alaska’s North Coast.

While Boat operations are under way in Barrow, the Coast Guard’s community outreach with the U.S. Public Health Service is continuing with the recent visits to the communities of Kaktovik and Nuiqsut. In total, visits to five remote villages have resulted in the medical care of more than 500 domestic animals along the North Slope of Alaska.

“It is wonderful to be able to reach out to the caring people of these villages,” said Lt. Cdr. Lauren Davidson, Veterinarian Public Health Service. “Many people have opened their doors to us, and allowed us to ensure the health of a member of their family.”

Now entering its final stages, Operation Arctic Crossroads is an outreach effort from Nome and Barrow to many communities across northern Alaska. The Coast Guard is reaching out to integrate local knowledge with military expertise to meet the many challenges of Arctic operations. The operation is made up of members from the, Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force, Army National Guard, Air National Guard and U.S. Public Health Services.

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