Coast Guard opens seasonal Forward Operating Location in Kotzebue, Alaska

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters sit in an Alaska Army National Guard hangar in Kotzebue, Alaska. Coast Guard file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brad Pigage.

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters sit in an Alaska Army National Guard hangar in Kotzebue, Alaska. Coast Guard file photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Brad Pigage.

KODIAK, Alaska — The Coast Guard began its seasonal supplemental coverage of Northern Alaska with the opening of its Forward Operating Location in Kotzebue, Monday.

Coast Guard 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.

In support of Coast Guard operations in the Arctic, aircrews consisting of 14 members are scheduled to operate 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-Canada border.

The Arctic is an important political and strategic environment for the U.S. 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 among the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaskan Universities and Alaska Native Organizations that studies marine mammal populations in the Bering and Chukchi Seas.

“As America’s interest in the Arctic 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, operations officer at Air Station Kodiak. “Air Station Kodiak aircrews will provide search and rescue, community relations presence, aids-to-navigation support and interagency cooperation to monitor marine wildlife stocks throughout the deployment season.”

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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