Every year, the Coast Guard forward deploys ships, helicopters, and maritime safety teams around the state in advance of a busy Alaska summer. The operation, known as “Arctic Shield” concludes for the year this Sunday, with its temporary base in Kotzebue shutting down for the winter.
Since July 1, Kotzebue has served as a base for two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and their crews. They report responding to 15 search-and-rescue cases, and are credited with saving 18 lives according to a Friday statement from the Coast Guard.
That’s only part of the operation; the Coast Guard also deployed a Maritime Safety and Security Team from San Francisco to enforce vessel safety standards and assist in search and rescue. Coast Guard personnel in District 17 reports performing 128 facility inspections and 470 commercial fishing vessel safety exams.
Additionally, the cutters Hickory, Kukui, Midgett, Kimball, and icebreaker Healy patrolled around the Aleutian chain and Southeast Alaska waters.
Operation Arctic Shield began in 2009. This year’s deployments also featured training and maneuvers with the Japanese Navy and Canadian and Russian coast guards.