Patrolling the Frozen North

The Coast Guard, going back to the old historic Revenue Cutter Bear, has long been the sole force to police the polar regions of the US. With global warming, more of said coast is open to the public and leads to more problems.

An article in the LA Times talks about the first ever extensive patrol by a large cutter along Alaska’s arctic coast

Berthoff off JUNEAU, Alaska – . U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally.

“BARROW, Alaska — In past years, these remote gray waters of the Alaskan Arctic saw little more than the occasional cargo barge and Eskimo whaling boat. No more.

This summer, when the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf was monitoring shipping traffic along the desolate tundra coast, its radar displays were often brightly lighted with mysterious targets.

There were oil drilling rigs, research vessels, fuel barges, small cruise ships. A few were sailboats that had ventured through the Northwest Passage above Canada. On a single day in August, 95 ships were detected between Prudhoe Bay and Wainwright off America’s least defended coastline, and for some of them, Coast Guard officials had no idea what the vessels were carrying or who was on them….”

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