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Coast Guard's Joint Arctic Missions Support
by U.S. Coast Guard Senior Chief Petty Officer Sara Muir
September 15, 2020

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Campbell (WMEC 909) relieved the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) on Arctic patrol, August 23, 2020 near Greenland.

In mid-July, Tahoma began operations for the overall two-month patrol to the Arctic in support of joint operations Nanook and Argus, to secure the maritime domain, protect resources, and strengthen partnerships.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) became the first Coast Guard 270-foot medium endurance cutter crew to cross the Arctic Circle, August 17, 2020. They took part in joint Arctic Operations Nanook and Argus. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) became the first Coast Guard 270-foot medium endurance cutter crew to cross the Arctic Circle, August 17, 2020. They took part in joint Arctic Operations Nanook and Argus. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)

"I've been doing this for more than 33 years and thought I'd seen everything until I saw how positively this crew responded. There's nothing more humbling than being surrounded by such a great crew. Their families and friends should all be proud of them; that they accomplished something important and accomplished it with style. They represented themselves, their families, their Service, and their country as well as could ever be expected. The finest traditions of the Coast Guard are alive and well within the Tahoma crew," said Cmdr. Eric Johnson, commanding officer, Tahoma.

As the Nation's primary maritime presence in the Polar Regions, the Coast Guard advances our national interests through a unique blend of polar operational capability, regulatory authority, and international leadership across the full spectrum of maritime governance.

As part of Operation Nanook, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) maneuvers with vessel from the Royal Canadian navy and coast guard, the Danish navy, and French navy, in the Atlantic August 9, 2020. Strong partnerships are imperative to success in the Arctic. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)
As part of Operation Nanook, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) maneuvers with vessel from the Royal Canadian navy and coast guard, the Danish navy, and French navy, in the Atlantic August 9, 2020. Strong partnerships are imperative to success in the Arctic. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)

 "The Coast Guard has been in the Arctic for over 150 years," said Capt. Thomas Crane, commanding officer, Campbell. "This signature exercise began in 2007. We are committed to enhancing our multinational capability to operate effectively in the dynamic Arctic domain, strengthening the rules-based order through the presence and joint efforts, and adapting to promote regional resilience and prosperity. We are proud to bring USCGC Campbell back to Greenland as the previous Campbell (W32) supported Coastal Operations in and around Greenland during World War II."

These exercises evaluate interoperability and build relationships between responders to identify shortfalls in communication and coordination of efforts. Each agency holds individual capabilities that complement each other's efforts and bolsters the overall success of the regional defense and SAR system. The purpose is to continue building and improving operational cohesion between different agencies and the Coast Guard.

Tahoma participated in patrols and mutual exchanges with partners as part of Operation Nanook. Inuit for polar bears, Nanook is an annual joint exercise and the Canadian armed forces' signature northern operation, which comprises a series of comprehensive, joint, interagency, and multinational activities designed to exercise regional defense and secure our polar regions.

As part of the Operation Argus search and rescue exercise, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) and HDMS Triton (F358), a Royal Danish navy vessel, conducted towing evolutions off Greenland August 18, 2020. Interoperability and rescue responses are vital in the high latitudes of the Arctic. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)
As part of the Operation Argus search and rescue exercise, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) and HDMS Triton (F358), a Royal Danish navy vessel, conducted towing evolutions off Greenland August 18, 2020. Interoperability and rescue responses are vital in the high latitudes of the Arctic. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)

The Coast Guard is primarily supporting Nanook-Tuugalik, a defense readiness and security exercise, with multiple foreign partners off Northern Canada involving U.S. Navy 2nd Fleet, Royal Canadian navy and coast guard, the Danish navy, French navy, Royal Canadian air force, and multiple Canadian federal, state, local, and tribal agencies. This year crowns a decade of Operation Nanook.

Tahoma and Campbell participated in Operation Argus, a three-day search and rescue exercise in Greenland's coastal search area with the Danish navy, French navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and Air Greenland. Campbell will also conduct exchanges, fisheries boardings to safeguard resources and protect domestic fisheries and serve as a platform for research and innovation.

As part of Operation Nanook, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) boat-crew participates in a search and rescue exercise with the HDMS Triton, a Royal Danish navy vessel, August 17, 2020, off Greenland. Operation Argus, part of Nanook, focused on search and rescue interoperability, highlights the importance of cooperation between international partners. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)
As part of Operation Nanook, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma (WMEC 908) boat-crew participates in a search and rescue exercise with the HDMS Triton, a Royal Danish navy vessel, August 17, 2020, off Greenland. Operation Argus, part of Nanook, focused on search and rescue interoperability, highlights the importance of cooperation between international partners. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Seaman Kate Kilroy)

"We continue to work with our allies and partners to ensure a safe, secure, and cooperative Arctic, even as our aspiring near-peer competitors maneuver for strategic advantage in the area," said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area. "We are leaning forward, and our persistent presence continues to counter those entities' efforts as the strategic value, economic, and scientific importance of the Arctic grows."

Tahoma and Campbell's home port is the historic Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine. Both cutters have a crew of roughly 100 who regularly patrol the Atlantic from Canada to the Caribbean. Like the other Famous-class cutters, they are designed and built for multi-mission operations, including law enforcement, search and rescue, marine environmental protection, and defense readiness.

Due to COVID-19, the service is taking extensive precautions and closely monitoring all operations. As needed, unit schedules adapted to ensure missions occur as planned. Any port calls or personnel exchanges are evaluated for risk and conducted in close coordination with the host nation and relevant agencies.

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