Kodiak Coast Guardsmen on the North Slope have performed their second major rescue since a forward operating base was established in Barrow in June.
On Friday night, a Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk flew 160 miles south of Barrow to rescue the two survivors of a plane crash. The two men — a father and son — were found in good condition and taken to Barrow.
According to the Coast Guard, the call for help came at 7:30 p.m. Friday from the Air Force command center in Anchorage, which picked up a distress beacon at 6:55 p.m. The Coast Guard was the closest force on hand, and the helicopter arrived back in Barrow just before midnight.
“Rescuing two people in the Arctic is exactly why we need to maintain a Coast Guard presence in this remote region during the summer months,” said Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, commander of the Coast Guard 17th District, in a statement.
Forward Operating Base Barrow opened July 16, marking the first time the Coast Guard has offered regular search and rescue capabilities in the Arctic Ocean. Twenty-six Coast Guardsmen were deployed to operate helicopters and a communications station in America’s farthest north town.
Regular HC-130 flights from Air Station Kodiak are keeping the Barrow base supplied and staffed. The base will operate only as long as the Arctic is open for shipping traffic. According to Coast Guard plans, the base is scheduled to demobilize in October, but no date has been set.