Coast Guard conducts vessel inspections at Red Dog Mine

Petty Officer 3rd Class William Russell prepares to board the cargo vessel Spring Aeolian off shore of the Red Dog Mine Port Site in the Chukchi Sea July 12, 2012. Coast Guard examiners from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage conducted a tank vessel certificate of compliance exam and three other safety and security exams on foreign bulk cargo during the deployment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Ryan Butler.

Petty Officer 3rd Class William Russell prepares to board the cargo vessel Spring Aeolian off shore of the Red Dog Mine Port Site in the Chukchi Sea July 12, 2012. Coast Guard examiners from Coast Guard Sector Anchorage conducted a tank vessel certificate of compliance exam and three other safety and security exams on foreign bulk cargo during the deployment. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. j.g. Ryan Butler.

By Ensign Victoria Stockton

A marine safety team from Sector Anchorage deployed to Red Dog Mine July 11-14 to conduct port state control exams and a facility inspection.

Red Dog Mine, located in remote Northwestern Alaska, is the world’s largest source for zinc and a significant source of lead. In the summer, industry aims to offload over one million tons of lead per year.

Despite the geographic isolation of the mine, accessible only by sea and air, it is integral to commerce throughout Alaska. Located above the Arctic Circle, icing of the open water results in a short shipping season presenting significant challenges to the maritime shipping community.

The Coast Guard regularly deploys teams to the mine throughout the summer to conduct inspections and exams needed to keep the mine and the shipping fleet operational.

Upon arrival, Lt. j.g. Ryan Butler, Chief Petty Officer Bruce Baker and Petty Officer 3rd Class William Russell conducted a tank ship certificate of compliance exam, required before the vessel could begin discharging fuel to the facility. Without the exam, Red Dog Mine would have run out of fuel and been forced to shut down operations.

Three other safety and security exams on foreign bulk cargo ships were conducted during the deployment. During the vessel exams Coast Guard personnel check for general safety of the vessels to include firefighting and lifesaving equipment.

Special attention is paid to ensure the vessels can operate safely in the sensitive and critical environments above the Arctic Circle.

“The Coast Guard is always working in the Arctic to facilitate commerce and we have teams up there during the shipping season to ensure the fleet is inspected properly” Lt. j.g. Butler said. “Teams from Sector Anchorage will be deployed to Red Dog Mine through the remaining weeks of July and into the first week of August.”

The inspections ensure preventative measures are in place to protect the environment as well as the shipping fleet in the Arctic.

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