Coming into Focus
Operation reveals shortcomings of Coast Guard Arctic capabilities
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Assistant Editor
Consortium had to serve as the
communications command post.
The service did find success
using the 378-foot cutter Hamilton
in non-icy waters. The ship’s flight
deck was available for helicopter
landings and it provided support to
“Next summer, we are looking
at using larger helicopters, smaller
boats and more ships for a presence to respond to contingencies
up there,” Brooks said.
The summer operation confirmed that the service is looking at
continued seasonal operations in
the region, but that a permanent
presence is not yet needed, Brooks said.
“We are not at the point where we would do anything year-round,” he said. “The issue of how many
personnel we would have there based on increased
infrastructure is still undecided.”
In past summers, the Coast Guard has forward deployed personnel from Kodiak, Juneau and Anchorage to
help out in the North Slope, an area in the uppermost
part of Alaska that sees some of the harshest weather in
the country, according to Brooks.
The study’s lessons-learned document was sent to
Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington in October. A
second requirement-to-build document, meaning what
types of infrastructure would need to be built in the region, was sent to Pacific Area Command in December and
soon will be forwarded to headquarters.
Brooks said he continues to talk with coastal community members about improvements that could be
made to the region.
The Coast Guard also is conducting a year-long Arctic
High-Latitude study that will end in December. Any
determination on increased personnel or infrastructure in
the region will not be made until that study is concluded.
The Coast Guard conducted an Arctic operation last summer to
determine if it has the right amount of force structure and infrastructure in the region.
■ The 25-foot Small Response Boats used during the exercise
proved to be inadequate for the region and the HH-65 helicopters
lacked sufficient range.
■ Infrastructure for aviation support, berthing and communications was lacking.
■ The commandant will provide an analysis of the operation to
Congress this spring.
An Arctic operation last summer revealed that
the Coast Guard could improve its presence in
the region, but left questions regarding the
possible addition of personnel and infrastructure to support that presence unanswered until at least next year.
The 16-day Operation Salliq was conducted above
the Arctic Circle out of Barrow, Alaska, to help determine what Coast Guard requirements lie in the Arctic
and assess which assets are capable of operating in
that environment. It was completed in August and its
results continue to be analyzed.
However, initial findings did offer some surprises
for Rear Adm. Arthur E. Brooks, commander of the
17th Coast Guard District, Juneau, Alaska.
The 25-foot Small Response Boats used for the operation were too small and could not handle the mission
responsibilities, he said. And the helicopters — HH-
65C Dolphins — did not have enough range for their
There also was a lack of hangar space for the aircraft
along Alaska’s North Slope, where the operation took
place. Berthing space in hotels was scarce in the region
and a makeshift office at the Barrow Arctic Science