Duluth-based Coast Guard cutter to return from 2-month Arctic deployment

CLEVELAND – The Coast Guard Cutter Alder is scheduled to return home Saturday at about 9 a.m. following a 56-day deployment to the Canadian Arctic.

The Alder departed Duluth, Minn., July 12 for a two-month deployment in which the crew participated in Exercise NATSIQ 2010, a Canadian exercise, designed to improve the collective capacity of our Arctic allies to effectively respond to safety and security threats or emergencies in the Arctic.

Exercise NATSIQ involved forces from the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard, as well as the Canadian navy and coast guard, and the Danish navy.

This is the first exercise that the United States Coast Guard was invited to participate in that was held in the northernmost region of the high Arctic in Lancaster Sound (Resolute Bay, Pond Inlet and Arctic Bay), approximately 1,800 miles northeast of Alder’s homeport of Duluth.

Alder supported the Canadian forces while conducting maintenance visits and community outreach to remote sites along the Labrador coast, provided transport for members of the Canadian armed forces, conducted crew exchanges to enhance cultural understanding and share best practices, and participated in drills and exercises based on an array of naval warfare, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and other scenarios, all designed to increase interoperability and effectiveness.

The Coast Guard was invited to participate in Exercise NATSIQ by Canada Command, Joint Task Force North. Exercises such as NATSIQ provide a unique opportunity to enhance interoperability with joint and combined forces and increase our operational experience in the harsh and fragile conditions of the Arctic.

U.S. Coast Guard diving forces also participated in the exercise’s finale, which involved responding to a simulated oil pollution incident, a scenario of increased importance due to rising pressure to utilize the Northwest Passage for shipping.

“The crew is very excited to return home to see their loved ones after participating in Exercise NATSIQ 2010,” said Lt. Cmdr. MaryEllen Durley, Alder’s commanding officer. “We successfully increased the interoperability between all three countries while executing operations in the high Arctic during this first mission of its kind. Alder safely navigated more than 8,500 miles through lots of fog, rain and heavy seas amongst many icebergs and whales while also witnessing beautiful fjords and a quick glimpse of a polar bear,” Durley said.

The Alder is a 225-foot seagoing buoy tender that conducts aids to navigation and ice-breaking missions in Lake Superior.

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