Deck Watch learns about Arctic Shield 2012

Coast Guard Cutter SPAR off Barrow 2008

BARROW, Alaska - The Coast Guard Cutter SPAR sits off the coast of Barrow as it prepares to help the Coast Guard Cutter Hamilton perform a search and rescue drill for the first time in the Arctic Aug. 27, 2008. The Hamilton was the first high endurance cutter to conduct operation in the Arctic and as human activity continues to increase the Coast Guard is conducting sustained operations in the region with cutter and aircraft from summer through fall 2012. U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Richard Brahm.

This week Deck Watch discussed the Coast Guard’s upcoming sustained operations in the Arctic with Capt. Greg Sanial, response chief Coast Guard District 17. Although aircrews are already on the ground in Barrow and the Coast Guard has been conducting outreach in the region since January, Operation Arctic Shield officially kicks off July 16 and runs through the fall. To listen to this week’s show click here.

In other Coast Guard news this week:

July 7 – A Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew conducted a medevac of an ailing fisherman from Angoon to Sitka July 7. A 50-year-old crewman aboard the fishing vessel Seabreaker collapsed for unknown reasons hit his head and was having difficulty breathing. The vessel was transiting 24 miles east of Sitka. The Jayhawk crew safely hoisted the patient and transferred him to Air Station Sitka, where he was delivered to emergency medical services. The Seabreaker is a 50-foot purse seiner homeported in Seattle.

July 7 -12 – The Coast Guard and cooperating agencies towed the 353-foot catcher processor Excellence, with a significant ammonia leak, to a mooring buoy in Wide Bay, six miles north of Dutch Harbor Saturday. This action was taken to ensure the safety of the local community.  Marine chemists have since cleared the vessel, and a four man crew has gained access to the control room and has set up fans to ventilate the space. The four-man crew will remain aboard to run the generator and fans. Additionally, there is a skiff moored along side in the event of an emergency and the crew need to evacuate. The ammonia cans on board have lost their charge, but the forward freezers on board still have ice, thus indicating an unknown amount of ammonia still aboard. The Coast Guard Pacific Area Strike Team remains on standby.

July 10 – The Coast Guard Cutter Hickory reported to Coast Guard Sector Anchorage watchstanders that the fishing vessel Miss Brenda was reportedly aground 16 miles north northeast of Sand Point Tuesday. The vessel’s crew was not in distress the vessel was successfully refloated on the next high tide with the assistance of the fishing vessel Tern. The Miss Brenda crew moored in Sand Point without incident.

July 10 – The Coast Guard responded to a 406 MHz emergency position indicating radio beacon Tuesday. Sector Anchorage and Communications Station Kodiak issued an urgent marine information broadcast on both VHF-FM and HF channels requesting assistance from mariners in the area. There was no further information regarding the beacon’s origin. The Alaska State Troopers launched a small plane to use direction-finding equipment to locate the source of the signal. They found a strong signal in the vicinity of Kulukak Bay. Air Station Kodiak launched an HC-130 Herclues airplane and crew who located the associated 121.5 MHz homing signal near the Walrus Islands in Bristol Bay. There were 20 to 25 vessels operating within a three miles radius of the signal’s origin point. The Hercules crew confirmed over VHF-FM channel 16 that no vessels in the area were in distress and directed all crews to check their EPIRBs. The signal immediately ceased and was determined to be an accidental activation. 

July 10 – Cmdr. Frank McConnell, of the 17th District Arctic Shield coordination team, and Lt. Vincent Jansen and Lt. Mark Heussner, of Air Station Kodiak, provided a briefing about the Coast Guard’s planned operations in and around the Northern Slope of Alaska during a North Slope Borough assembly meeting Tuesday. Jansen’s presentation specifically focused on steps the Coast Guard will be taking to minimize the effects Coast Guard helicopter operations on subsistence and traditional lifestyles of North Slope Borough residents. To see photos please visit the Coast Guard Alaska Facebook page.

July 11 – Capt. Jerald Woloszynski assumed command of Coast Guard Base Kodiak from Capt. Karl Moore during a formal change of command ceremony Wednesday. Moore, a native of Laramie, Wyo., is retired after 24 years of service in the Coast Guard. Coast Guard Base Kodiak is one of 13 newly established bases under the nationwide reorganization. To see photos click here.

July 11 – A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew confirmed the owner of a kayak sighted on the south side of Point Pogibshi near Kachemak Bay was in no distress Wednesday. A District 17 command center watchstander received a phone call from a Smokey Bay Air pilot who sighted the kayak and reported that it looked like the kayak was brought up onto the beach by high tide. The kayak had gear strapped down on top of it and there was no sign of the occupant. The Coast Guard aircrew arrived on scene and located the owner who had made camp and was awaiting better weather to continue his voyage.

July 11 – Coast Guard Sector Anchorage was notified by Crowley Marine that the barge DBL 165-2 was soft aground near the mouth of the Yukon River Wednesday. The tug Nachik was towing the barge and remained on scene until the barge refloated at high tide close to midnight. No injuries, flooding or pollution were reported.

July 11 – Sector Juneau watchstanders received a mayday broadcast from the 56-foot fishing vessel Viking Spirit in Anita Bay near Wrangell Wendnesday. Multiple good Samaritans were on scene and began to render assistance. An Air Station Sitka MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew self-diverted from their scheduled mission and Wrangell search and rescue also responded. The Viking Spirit crew reported having the flooding under control when Coast Guard and Wrangell SAR arrived.

July 11 – Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander Coast Guard District 17, discussed Nome port operations with Mayor Denise Michels and Joy Baker, Nome harbormaster at the Port of Nome, Wednesday. The Coast Guard is conducting a capabilities assessment and outreach to communities in the Arctic as part of this year’s Arctic Shield operations. To see photos please visit the Coast Guard Alaska Facebook page.


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