By Walter Ham, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters
/ Published December 01, 2017
The Coast Guard hosted an Arctic Domain Awareness Center meeting at its headquarters here, Nov. 28-29.
The meeting brought together researchers from the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence with leaders from its principal customer, the Coast Guard.
Working with international, interagency and tribal partners, ADAC conducts research to support Coast Guard Arctic search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, disaster response and security missions.
Tracking Arctic Oil Spills, Mapping New Sea Lanes
Among its many projects, the center is studying capabilities to track Arctic oil spills, map new sea lanes, forecast sea ice and improve situational awareness. ADAC is also working to develop a Great Lakes ice classification system that could be applied in the Arctic.
ADAC conducts research at the University of Alaska’s Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses and works with academic and industry partners around the U.S. and Canada.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, the commander of the organization’s Juneau, Alaska-based 17th District, provided an overview of the challenges the Coast Guard faces in the Arctic. McAllister said these challenges, from the potential for a major oil spill to a mass search and rescue operation, are compounded by increased vessel traffic.
McAllister said Coast Guard cutters spent 185 days this year operating and executing missions above the Arctic Circle, and the service has saved 16 lives there so far in 2017.
The 17th District commander added that the service is eager to capitalize on ADAC's research projects and transition them into operational capability.
“Traffic drives the need for capabilities to operate in the northern latitudes,” McAllister said.
Keynote speaker Adm. Charles Michel, the vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, thanked the researchers for their efforts to increase situational awareness in the Arctic region and to help the Coast Guard to prepare for increased human activity there.
"We're dealing with very dynamic changes in the Arctic," said Michel, adding that "the first line of effort in our arctic strategy is improving awareness."