Coast Guard Commandant Investigating Possible North Slope Installations

Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally: United States Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp. U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Bob Papp is in Alaska.  He toured the North Slope along with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who left Wednesday. But the Commandant remained in Barrow, looking into what sort of installation the Coast Guard might put there, now that Salazar’s Interior Department has awarded the permits for Shell to drill in the Beaufort Sea.

The Admiral said the Coast Guard will need to have some sort of search and rescue presence on the North Slope, and he needs to be prepared to make recommendations

Papp is being accompanied by Alice Hill, a top aide to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.  Before heading north, both of them made a visit to the 420-foot Coast Guard icebreaker “Healy,” which was in Kodiak preparing for a research cruise in the Arctic Ocean.

The Healy is the nation’s only functioning ice-breaker.  The other two Coast Guard ice-breakers, the “Polar Star” and “Polar Sea” are both in dry-dock undergoing repairs. Admiral Papp says there is now an outside study that says the nation needs at least six ice-breakers

Admiral Papp plans to testify about his findings at a field hearing of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard tomorrow at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.

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Brianna Gibbs is a reporter at KMXT in Kodiak.

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