Despite snow Coast Guard conducts maintenance

POTATO POINT, Alaska - Coast Guard personnel from Electronic System Support Detachment Valdez trek through four to six feet of snow to conduct maintenance to the Potato Point high site in the Valdez Narrows Dec. 23, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of ESD Valdez.

POTATO POINT, Alaska - Coast Guard personnel from Electronic System Support Detachment Valdez trek through four to six feet of snow to conduct maintenance to the Potato Point high site in the Valdez Narrows Dec. 23, 2011. U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy of ESD Valdez.

Throughout Alaska the men and women of the Coast Guard have to work on equipment in remote areas of the state. Along with the remoteness of the areas they have to deal with the challeges of unpredictable weather.

Recently Petty Officer First Class Marcel Leroy and Petty Officer 2nd Class William Yi, both electrical technicians with Electronic System Support Detachment Valdez made a trek through four to six feet of snow to service a remote aids to navigation site near Valdez, Alaska.

“Some of the greatest challenges of working on remote sites here in Alaska during the winter in unpredictable weather are transporting personnel and equipment to and from sites,” said Yi. “Leroy and I prepared a reference station computer weighing approximately 30 pounds for transport to a remote site.”

The remote site called Potato Point is accessible only by a helicopter flight or a 30 minute boat ride followed by a 30 to 60 minute snowshoe commute to the site. The times vary due to snow depth and white out conditions. Even wearing snowshoes you can sink up to two to four feet in the snow.

Upon arriving at the transmitter building Leroy and Yi found the entrance blocked by six feet of packed snow, but they were able to dig through the snow and gain entrance to the building. During the site visit Leroy and Yi inspected antenna masts and associated equipment, troubleshot equipment and finalized their trip by making the long trek back to the pier to head home.

“The long walk down the pier ended at a ladder with a warm welcome from shipmates,” said Yi. “Making the long trek to and from the site and conducting the repairs or maintenance helps remind us why we do the job, helping keep mariners safe throughout Alaska.”

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