Coast Guard closes seasonal forward operating location in Kotzebue, Alaska

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aircrew prepares to take off from the forward operating location in Kotzebue, Alaska. U. S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bradley Pigage.

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aircrew prepares to take off from the forward operating location in Kotzebue, Alaska. U. S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Bradley Pigage.

KODIAK, Alaska – The Coast Guard concluded its supplemental coverage of Northern Alaska with the closure of its Forward Operating Location in Kotzebue, Alaska, Thursday.

Air Station Kodiak aircrews with two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters were forward deployed to Kotzebue to provide better response times and coverage to remote regions of Alaska during periods of increased maritime activity.

Beginning July 1, In support of Coast Guard operations in the Arctic, aircrews consisting of 14 members operated on a rotating schedule for two week intervals in Kotzebue, providing search and rescue and maritime law enforcement coverage to the entire Northwestern portion of Alaska. Geographically, this area of responsibility spans from approximately Bethel to the Northern Alaskan-Canadian border. Throughout the season, aircrews flew 330 total flight hours in support of Coast Guard missions including over 75 hours of search and rescue that saved or assisted eight lives.

The Arctic is an important political and strategic environment for the United States. The Coast Guard serves as the only military presence conducting Maritime Domain Awareness flights to maintain sovereignty over those waters and shores. Aircraft deployed to Kotzebue also support the Whale, Walrus and Seal Initiative. WWSI is a joint biological program that studies marine mammal populations in the Bering and Chuckchi Seas, which is between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaskan universities and Alaska Native Organizations.

“As America’s interest in our Arctic Region continues to grow, the Coast Guard is committed to fulfilling our missions and supporting remote communities in this strategically valuable area,” said Cmdr. Adam Merrill, the Air Station Kodiak Operations Officer. “Air Station Kodiak aircrews provided search and rescue, community relations presence, aids-to-navigation support and interagency cooperation to monitor marine wildlife stocks throughout this year’s deployment season.”

These forward operating locations are part of the Coast Guard’s mobile presence, and are focused on performing the service’s 11 statutory missions throughout the Arctic to ensure maritime safety, security and stewardship.

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