JUNEAU, Alaska — The Coast Guard opened forward operating location (FOL) Kotzebue, Alaska, in support of Arctic Shield 2018 operations throughout the Arctic region July 1, the Coast Guard 17th District said in a release.
As part of operation Arctic Shield 2018, Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak deployed two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters and crews to Kotzebue to give the Coast Guard an opportunity to leverage existing infrastructure and strategically positions its crews to effectively respond to maritime emergencies in the Bering Strait and the Northern Slope.
In addition to FOL Kotzebue, the Coast Guard will have cutters Healy, Stratton and Douglas Munro engage in operations encompassing a variety of missions from Dutch Harbor through the Bering Strait and along the North Slope including the Northern Alaska Outer Continental Shelf.
Operation Arctic Guardian is also a part of Arctic Shield, and it is an exercise that will conduct outreach with community responders in the Arctic by teaching basic oil spill response tactics and sub-area planning. Several Coast Guard personnel and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will conduct Operation Arctic Guardian in Bethel.
“The Forward Operating Location in Kotzebue helps mitigate several of the major challenges when operating in the Arctic including the environment, vast distances and limited infrastructure,” said Rear Adm. Matthew Bell, commander, Coast Guard 17th District. “Arctic Shield 2018 operations and activities will include performing multiple missions, leveraging partnerships and increasing maritime domain awareness to reduce risk and promote safe, secure and environmentally responsible maritime activity. “
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 focusing on promoting national interests and sovereignty throughout the Arctic. Arctic Shield 2018 operations and activities will include performing multiple missions, leveraging partnerships and increasing maritime domain awareness to reduce risk and promote safe, secure and environmentally responsible maritime activity.
Arctic Shield 2018 focuses on understanding and responding to the risks to the sea, risks to those on the sea, and risks from those who might use the sea to do us harm. Increasing maritime domain awareness, building and strengthening partnerships with both national and international Arctic stakeholders, and having an active presence in the region will enhance the safety, security and stewardship of the nation’s Arctic waters.