Coast Guard concludes Operation Arctic Shield 2021

A Coast Guard Air Station crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, operates in Forward Operating Location Kotzebue, Alaska, Sept. 18, 2021. Coast Guard file photo by Lt. Scott Kellerman.

A Coast Guard Air Station crew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, operates in Forward Operating Location Kotzebue, Alaska, Sept. 18, 2021. Coast Guard file photo by Lt. Scott Kellerman.

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard will conclude its annual Arctic Shield operations on Sunday with the seasonal closure of its Forward Operating Location in Kotzebue, Alaska.

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aircrews and two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters were forward deployed to Kotzebue to provide coverage and reduced response times to remote regions of Alaska during increased summer and fall maritime activities.

The Coast Guard aircrews deployed in support of Operation Arctic Shield, which commenced on July 1, responding to 15 search and rescue cases, saving 18 lives and assisting 7 others.

“This season, Coast Guard Forward Operating Location Kotzebue was as busy as ever serving remote Alaskan communities, hunters and mariners throughout the Arctic,” said Capt. Nathan Coulter, commanding officer, Air Station Kodiak. “The cases we responded to varied from rescuing 2-month-old babies to bear attack survivors and our operations stretched from Nightmute to Little Diomede and Utqiagvik. It is and has been a privilege to serve the United States’ most northern communities. As we have since 1947, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak stands ready to respond to safety and security missions throughout Alaska.”

To prevent hazards at sea, Coast Guard personnel from the 17th District and Coast Guard Sector Anchorage completed 128 facility inspections and 470 commercial fishing vessels safety exams.

A detachment from the Maritime Safety and Security Team (MSST) in San Francisco, California, conducted seasonal operations in Bristol Bay in the vicinity of King Salmon and Naknek, supporting the same objective. During their 47-day operation, MSST personnel enforced commercial fishing vessel safety standards, while providing search and rescue capabilities, strengthening community relations and building partnership with other government agencies.

In addition, the crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Hickory and Kukui, 225-foot seagoing buoy tenders homeported in Homer and Sitka, respectively, patrolled the Gulf of Alaska to Bristol Bay as well as the Aleutian Chains and the Bering Sea.

Coast Guard Cutters Midgett and Kimball, 418-foot Legend class cutters, homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii, conducted operations north of the Bering Strait for 16 days. The Coast Guard Cutter Healy, a 420-foot polar icebreaker homeported in Seattle, Washington, spent 23 days conducting operations in the same area.

The Coast Guard also continued its partnerships and provided critical support to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fish and Wildlife Service and Office of Naval Research.

Additionally, four international at-sea engagements were conducted by crews aboard the Cutter Midgett and the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf, homeported in Alameda, California, alongside crews from the Japanese Navy, the Canadian Coast Guard and the Russian Border Guard.

“I am proud of the current success of this operation and the Coast Guard’s continued ability to provide critical services to Arctic communities,” said Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, commander, Coast Guard 17th District. “The successful rescues conducted are due almost entirely to the strength of our partnership with local community responders, the people who know the region and their communities best.”

The annual operation of Arctic Shield, which began in 2009, is the Coast Guard’s mobile and seasonal presence focused on performing the service’s 11 statutory missions throughout the Arctic to ensure maritime safety, security and stewardship.

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