Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton Arctic Patrol – Aug. 26, 2008

Journal Entry – Aug. 26, 2008 – Arctic Ocean

The Coast Guard is extending High Endurance cutter operations from the Bering Sea into the Chukchi Sea, the Beaufort Sea, and the Arctic Ocean. This operation supports the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to extend maritime safety and security to the Arctic region in the face of retreating polar sea ice. The Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton will be the lead cutter in the United States’ push to extend security to U.S. Arctic waters. As part of this historic operation, the Hamilton is providing daily journal entries.

Position: Arctic Ocean, 70-34.2N, 162-26.7W

Weather: Winds: E 5kts. Temp: 38 F. Sea Temp: 42 F. Seas/Swells: 3 feet.

Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton Arctic Patrol 8-26

Crew Journal: LT BJ Miles, senior aviator CG AIRSTA Kodiak, ALPAT

Welcome to ice country! Today’s mission; find ice, report position of major concentrations take photos. Well mission accomplished. For the last 2 weeks we have been drooling over weather products showing illustrations of where the ice should be. We even had a C130 fly over yesterday to attempt to visually identify the ice edge, and drop a package to the cutter filled with needed aviation charts and gummy worms. All of which were much appreciated. For the first time we have now put eyes on our nemesis. They look harmless enough just sitting there, but most of us know their history as a force to be reckoned with.

The AVDET onboard includes: LT BJ Miles, LT Pat Lineberry, AET1 Barry Butler, AMT2 Al Musgrave, AET3 Bill Gilbert and AET3 Matt Lotz. All 5 are members of ALPAT, the HH65 squadron solely responsible for supplying Bering Sea bound CG cutters with aircraft and crew. Most of us are used to the hostile nature of the Bering, but ice is entirely new to most of us. Lucky for the Hamilton we are here in such benign conditions. Bump the winds up to 45kts and add a splash of 10 foot seas for good measure and the true measure of Mother Nature’s humbling powers become all too evident.

But today was as good as it gets up here. Calm winds, glassy seas and beautiful blue ice sculptures dotting the seascape. Our sight seeing mission has an important goal; find the ice now before we bump into it in the night. Surprisingly the predicted ice edges were right about where they were supposed to be. We brought along CMD Vic of the Canadian Coast Guard to help identify the quantity and density of ice and to bring back first hand navigational recommendations. For his efforts we rewarded him with one of the nicest sunset flights you’ll get up here. The Brown bears running on the beach at Icy Cape were an unexpected surprise and they looked surprisingly healthy considering the scarcity of food on these barren northern coasts.

Back to the cutter, land and put the plane to bed. Another day of ice patrols starts at first light tomorrow to guide the Hamilton past Barrow and into the history books as we accomplish the first ever WHEC patrol in the Arctic Sea.

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