>SPAR in the arctic!

>After a little more than four days of steaming from our homeport of Kodiak, AK, USCGC SPAR has come north of the Arctic Circle for the second time in as many summers.

As the ice at the top of the world continues to melt, opening the Arctic Ocean to a potential increase in marine traffic, SPAR is on a mission to evaluate the United States’ north coast as a waterway. While in the Arctic, we will be observing and interviewing current users to determine their needs and solicit their recommendations for waterway improvements and updates to the aids to navigation in the area. We will also verifying that the privately maintained aids already in place are working as advertised. An officer from NOAA is on board for the trip as well, and he is gathering information to update the navigational charts and the Coast Pilot for the Arctic. Along the way, the crew of SPAR will be visiting many of the Alaska Native villages of the Arctic, conducting outreach missions and establishing relationships that will foster the safety and security of the region.

Other than the first day out of Kodiak when we were met with the more typical Gulf of Alaska weather (35 kt winds and 13 ft seas), it has been smooth sailing through the gulf and the Bering Sea, which was so calm it was creepy yesterday. I’ll take creepy over typical any day.

Today, as part of our entrance into the Arctic, we started our crossing ceremony. This is where all the Blue Noses (me included) who have never been across the Arctic Circle get initiated into the Realm of the Polar Bear. The real fun starts tomorrow…

August 22, 2008
Commanding Officer’s Journal:
LCDR Keith Ropella