Coast Guard Cutter SPAR completes second week of Arctic Shield 2013 deployment

Hud_fixingBy Cadet Jack Hall and Seaman George Benjamin

At the end of SPAR’s second week underway in support of Arctic Shield 2013 the crew moored up in scenic Nome, the metropolis of the northwestern coast. Having braved tough seas, long watches and blue-nosed polar bears, the crew is still going strong.

The ship’s crew visited Port Clarence, an isolated area, once home to a Loran-C station to set a buoy and to service local land-based aids to navigation. 

While the cutter set a buoy, a few crewmen launched the small boat to service the local land-based aids to navigation. These terrestrial lights and dayboards, like their buoyed counterparts in the water, help sailors avoid shallow water and get home safely.

The small boat was skillfully operated by Seaman Patrick Joyce under the instruction of Petty Officer 1st Class Jacob Cobb, a boatswain’s mate, and was maintained by Petty Officer 3rd Class Norbert Flores and Petty Officer 2nd Class Dean Stroup. They remained in the small boat to take soundings in the area and to update charts while the shore party, consisting of Seaman Traci Huddleston and Fireman Jory Rock, went ashore to service the aids.

After hours of work the maintenance to the aids in Port Clarence were completed and SPAR’s crew resumed their north-bound journey.

Climbing_ladder“Servicing Aids to Navigation in the Arctic region is extremely important to keeping mariners safe on the water and is one of the many missions assigned to the cutter SPAR,” said Cdr. James Houck, Coast Guard 17th District Ports and Waterways division officer. “The SPAR’s participation in Arctic Shield 2013 has already been filled with unique experiences. They sailed in company with the 110-foot patrol boat Naushon to Nome, Alaska, which is the first time an island class patrol boat has been deployed to the Bering Sea, and on July 18, 2013 they’ll be participating in an international spilled oil recovery exercise and a towing exercise with the Canadian coast guard. SPAR will perform an at sea transfer of the skimming equipment to the Sir Wilfrid Laurier and the District 17 Response Advisory Team will assist the Laurier crew in setting it up and using it.  SPAR will also test a State of Alaska Emergency Towing system to increase equipment proficiency and response capabilities in the region. Goals of the entire three day exercise are to increase the strength of our international partnerships with the Canadian coast guard and to test the interoperability of each countries equipment.”