Coast Guard, multiple agencies to conduct joint search and rescue exercise off coast of Barrow

17th Coast Guard District NewsKODIAK, Alaska – Coast Guard, Air Force, Alaska Air National Guard and North Slope Borough personnel are scheduled to conduct a search and rescue exercise off the coast of Barrow Tuesday and Wednesday.

This search and rescue exercise is a way for these organizations to interact with each other to assess a coordinated response to a maritime distress off the coast of Barrow in the Arctic waters. The exercise will consist of two main activities.

The first activity will consist of Air National Guard pararescuemen and a personal watercraft being deployed from a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak HC-130 Hercules airplane transiting over open waters north of Barrow Tuesday. The pararescuemen are scheduled to conduct a mock rescue and transit back to shore on the personal watercraft. Coast Guard and North Slope Borough small boat crews will be available as safety vessels and to conduct parachute recovery.

The second activity is a joint water search and rescue exercise Wednesday. An incident will be simulated involving an adventure sailing vessel with 10 people aboard. The crewmembers from the vessel will be represented by various shaped and weighted buoys. The buoys will be deployed and allowed to drift prior to the beginning of the exercise.

This two-day exercise offers real time, real world opportunities for SAR training and coordination in the Arctic environment. It also offers a way for all to evaluate the exchange of critical communications and information needed at the command center and SAR unit levels.

“With the predicted increase in maritime activity in the Arctic, the possibility for an emergency situation to occur has increased,” said Paul Webb, a Coast Guard District Seventeen search and rescue specialist. “The Coast Guard is committed to expanding its presence in the Arctic and this exercise will assist us in determining the correct response to search and rescue incidents in this very challenging environment.”

The Coast Guard’s efforts are to ensure all agencies have responsibility for search and rescue, are willing to provide assistance and can work together successfully.

The Coast Guard and the Alaska Air National Guard conducted a joint rescue deployment exercise in June at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage to prepare for this search and rescue exercise.

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