Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton Arctic Patrol – Aug. 30, 2008

Journal Entry – Aug. 30, 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, 70-09.1N, 164-02.2W, 10 miles north of Barrow, AK

Weather: Winds: NE 6kts. Temp: 48 F. Sea Temp: 48 F. Seas/Swells: 2 foot.

Editors Note:  We have not included a photo of the Hamiltons location because we aren’t sure where they are.  The Lat/Long in the Position Description above  places them nearly 200 miles away from the described 10 miles north of Barrow.

Crew Journal: Written by Cmdr. Michael Rorstad, executive officer of USCGC Hamilton

Being able to come North to the Arctic on this patrol means more to me than I had originally anticipated. We were all excited to be able to bring HAMILTON to new waters, honoring our motto, “Semper Primus” or Always First. Being the first 378 to cross the Arctic Circle and conduct a multi-mission patrol is an honor that I will never forget.

As we approached the Arctic, the CAPT had us looking into the history of the Arctic and heroes of the Revenue Cutter Service. Names like Bertholf, Bear, and Hamilton reminded me of my own history. One of the prime factors that brought me to the Coast Guard was the love for the sea and its lore.

My grandfather, Johan Johnsen was a mate onboard a Norwegian Coastal Defense Vessel called the “Norge”. Although not very vocal about what happened, I think he passed on his love for the sea to my mother and uncle, who each had their kids involved in and around the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Looking back, and doing research on the internet, I found some very interesting facts. My grandfather’s ship sunk on April 10th, 1940 in the initial attack on Norway in a surprise attack by several German destroyers as they took Narvik Fjord. He was one of 101 survivors of a crew of 270. Growing up, I can remember his immense pride of service and ability to have survived the frigid waters of the Arctic Ocean. The location of his ship’s demise was about 110 north of the Arctic Circle by the town of Norvik, Norway.

Today, I was allowed to safely put myself in his shoes. Although protected by a cold weather immersion suit, or “gumby” suit, and without hostile fire, I felt the bite of the Arctic waters and remembered his service. What an incredible experience! About 50 of us jumped one at a time from the boat deck and swam back about 50 yards to the fantail. A boat with rescue swimmers was in the water and in case something happened, we had stations poised to pull people from the water both at the boat deck and back on the fantail. Much safer than that experienced by my grandfather! The crew had an unforgettable time; I know I did as well.

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