Coast Guard kicks off Arctic Shield 2017 operations in Arctic

Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley

Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley file photo

JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard kicked off Arctic Shield 2017 operations throughout Arctic waters Saturday with the opening of a forward operating location in Kotzebue.

As part of operation Arctic Shield 2017, the Coast Guard will deploy cutters, aircraft and personnel to engage in operations encompassing a variety of Coast Guard missions from Dutch Harbor through the Bering Strait and along the North Slope including the Northern Alaska Outer Continental Shelf.

The FOL in Kotzebue will enhance the Coast Guard’s operability by allowing pre-staged flight crews from Air Station Kodiak to save critical time and resources when responding to missions in the Arctic region.

“Forward deploying assets and personnel enhances our ability to conduct Coast Guard missions in the Arctic,” said Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, commander, Coast Guard 17th District. “The assets and people come from Coast Guard units throughout the United States to protect the Arctic environment, marine transportation system and all those who depend on it.”

Arctic Shield 2017 will include Arctic deployments by the crews of the Coast Guard Cutters Healy, Sherman, Maple, Hickory and Alex Haley, as well as Coast Guard participation in Operation Arctic Guardian, a multi-agency pollution response exercise to take place in Utqiaġvik.

Seasonal Arctic Shield operations began in 2009 to support Coast Guard missions in response to increased maritime activity in the Arctic. Arctic Shield operations and activities include conducting statutory Coast Guard missions such as search and rescue, law enforcement, aids to navigation and ensuring the safety and security of shipping in the region. Other Artic Shield objectives include broadening partnerships with local, state, tribal and federal agencies, increasing maritime domain awareness, and improving preparedness, prevention and response capabilities in the region.

2017 marks the 150th anniversary of the Coast Guard’s presence in Alaska. On August 12, 1867 the Revenue Cutter Lincoln transported the first federal officials to Sitka for the formal transfer of proprietorship from Russia on October 18, 1867. Since then, the Coast Guard’s duty to protect the people and waters of Alaska and the Arctic has grown alongside the 49th state’s ever-increasing role in global commerce, Arctic exploration and national sovereignty.

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