Coast Guard joins Arctic statekholders in historic forum

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft (right) and the heads of seven other Arctic nations' coast guards sign a joint statement that establishes the frameworks that detail the development of a multi-year strategic plan, avenues to share information, highlight best practices, identify training exercises, and on-the-water combined operations to achieve safe, secure and environmentally-responsible maritime activity in the Arctic in Faneuil Hall in Boston, June 10, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft  and the heads of seven other Arctic nations’ coast guards sign a joint statement that establishes the frameworks that detail the development of a multi-year strategic plan, avenues to share information, highlight best practices, identify training exercises, and on-the-water combined operations to achieve safe, secure and environmentally-responsible maritime activity in the Arctic in Faneuil Hall in Boston, June 10, 2016. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Kelley.

BOSTON — U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Paul Zukunft joined leaders representing all eight coast guard agencies of the Arctic nations to sign a joint statement establishing the framework for a multi-year strategic plan for the Arctic Coast Guard Forum on Friday.

The Arctic Coast Guard Forum is an operationally-focused, consensus-based organization. Membership includes Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, the Russian Federation and the United States.

Since the Arctic Coast Guard Forum was officially launched during a Principals Meeting in New London, Conn., last October, working groups have established strategies, objectives and tactics aimed towards achieving common operational goals in the region. In addition, agency representatives attended the Icelandic Search and Rescue Table Top Exercise in Reykjavik, Iceland, in April, sharing best practices and lessons learned.

“Today’s signing ceremony marks the culmination of months of collaboration by all eight Arctic coast guards,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Paul Zukunft.  “The Arctic coast guards now have an established framework to exchange information and are finalizing a set of combined operating guidelines to enhance interoperability.  This year we will hold a table top exercise culminating in a live exercise in 2017 to address safety of life at sea and the challenges of a mass rescue scenario as more and more cruise ships ply this harsh and unforgiving environment.”

The Arctic Coast Guard Forum will reconvene for an experts meeting in fall 2016.

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