Coast Guard Conducts First Search and Rescue Exercise in the Arctic Ocean

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Coast Guard is conducting its first Arctic search and rescue exercise Friday near Barrow, Alaska, in an effort to better understand mass rescue operations in the Arctic.

The Kodiak-based Coast Guard Cutter SPAR and the San Diego-based Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton are currently deployed to the Arctic Region and, along with aircraft from the Coast Guard Air Station in Kodiak, will be the principle players in the exercise.

The SPAR, a 225-foot buoy tender, will simulate a small cruise ship that is in distress after striking a large piece of sea ice. This collision will result in flooding, injuries to personnel and the loss of one passenger into the water.

The 378-foot high-endurance cutter Hamilton, on patrol in the region, will respond to SPAR’s call for help with a combination of forces and tactics, including having dewatering pumps delivered from a Kodiak-based C-130 Hercules aircraft. An HH-65 Dolphin helicopter, deployed aboard the Hamilton, will also be used to evacuate “injured” crewmembers and search for the person lost overboard during the SPAR’s collision with the sea ice.

Also during the exercise, communications will be tested between the Hamilton, SPAR, Coast Guard Communication Station Kodiak, the Rescue Coordination Center in Juneau, Air Station Kodiak and Sector Anchorage, Alaska.

“This exercise is just another step in the Coast Guard’s effort to not only understand the challenges of the Arctic, but to continue to hone the response strategies needed to be effective in the region, said Capt. Michael Inman, chief of response for the Seventeenth Coast Guard District.

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