The Coast Guard opened its seasonal forward operating location in Barrow Monday in preparation for the anticipated increase of maritime activities in the Arctic.
FOL Barrow is part of Arctic Shield 2012, which focuses on operations, outreach and an assessment of the Coast Guard's capabilities above the Arctic Circle. The FOL in Barrow consists of two Kodiak-based MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters with supporting air, ground and communications crews. "The Coast Guard crews will provide a vital forward deployed presence in the Arctic during the summer operational period," said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, Coast Guard 17th District commander. "Air Station Kodiak is more than 900 miles away from Barrow; having the FOL in place significantly increases our readiness and allows us to respond quicker to an emergency."
Arctic Shield 2012 kicked off in February with outreach efforts to 27 tribal communities in Northern Alaska. Outreach efforts included meetings, medical, dental and veterinary assistance as well as water safety, ice safety, boating safety and commercial fishing vessel safety training at local schools and with search and rescue organizations. Capabilities assessments will include a joint training exercise with U.S. Northern Command, Navy Supervisor of Salvage and Diving and other agency partners to deploy Spilled Oil Recovery System equipment from a Coast Guard buoy tender into the Arctic waters off of the coast of Barrow.
"Arctic Shield 2012 is designed to help us gain vital experience and to strengthen partnerships so we are prepared for future Arctic operations," said Ostebo.