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Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo discusses Arctic operations in Nome and Kotzebue

Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander, Coast Guard 17th District, talks to Nome, Alaska, community members May 23, 2013 about planned Coast Guard operations in the Arctic for the summer. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Sara Morin.
Posted by PA3 Grant DeVuyst, Friday, May 24, 2013 - As the nation’s lead federal agency for ensuring maritime safety and security in the Arctic, the Coast Guard will perform its statutory missions to ensure the Arctic remains a safe, secure and environmentally protected region.

Rear. Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander, Coast Guard 17th District shared Coast Guard Arctic Shield 2013 plans and information about the Coast Guard’s Arctic Strategy with tribal and local government members in Nome and Kotzebue, May 22-24, 2013.

“We understand the importance of strong relationships with tribal and local governments and have directly engaged in more than fifty meetings to discuss subsistence, shipping, and other Arctic concerns,” said Ostebo. “We are striving to build and strengthen our relationships throughout the Arctic by participating in open dialogue, actively listening and responding to tribal and local government concerns.”

The Coast Guard 17th District has a dedicated tribal liaison who actively engages with Arctic tribal leaders and local governments to ensure Arctic Shield 2013 operations do not conflict with tribal rights, interests or subsistence activities.

Arctic Shield 2013 operations will focus on Western Alaska and the Bering Strait, and will continue the three-pronged approach used in 2012.

Operations – Cutters, aircraft and personnel will maintain a presence in the Arctic region and will engage in operations encompassing a variety of Coast Guard missions.
Artificially coloured topographical map of the...
Artificially colored topographical map of the Arctic region. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Outreach – The Coast Guard will leverage its partnerships with federal, state, local, and tribal partners to combine efforts to ensure the safety of the maritime community.

Capability Assessment – Operating in the Arctic will give us an opportunity to exercise our capabilities to ensure we have the right resources to conduct our maritime operations.

“The Coast Guard will have several cutters in the region including the ice breakers Healy and Polar Star,” said Ostebo. “The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Healy will conduct science missions and will partner with the Coast Guard Research and Development Center to evaluate equipment. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star will test the overall readiness of the ship.”

A National Security Cutter will also be deployed as a command and control platform that will conduct various missions to include maritime domain awareness, search and rescue, and law enforcement.

Another essential element to operations is the forward operating location that will be located in Kotzebue.

“Deploying our helicopter and personnel to Kotzebue will give us an opportunity to leverage existing infrastructure and will strategically position our assets and personnel to conduct standard operations and effectively respond to maritime emergencies,” said Ostebo.

Outreach is a key component to all Coast Guard operations and engagements in the Arctic region, and the importance of broadening partnerships was highlighted during the Coast Guard Commandant’s announcement speech about the Coast Guard Arctic Strategy.

The Coast Guard Arctic Strategy contains three strategic objectives that will guide Coast Guard efforts in the Arctic over the next ten years. They are: Improving Awareness; Modernizing Governance; and Broadening Partnerships.