Senators Tour Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf

Begich, Murkowski, Landrieu join Homeland Security Sec. Napolitano, CG Commandant Papp in Cold Bay for Arctic Shield preview

U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Chair of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, for a tour in Cold Bay today of the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf. The Bertholf  is part of the Coast Guard’s Arctic Shield operation which will be in full operation as Shell moves toward drilling in the Arctic this summer.

“Touring the Bertholf was an incredible opportunity to see first-hand the type of capability the Coast Guard can bring to the Arctic,” Begich said. “As we move closer to exploration activity in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas, the Coast Guard has a critical role to play by being prepared to respond no matter what happens, whether in saving lives or protecting the environment. The Arctic Shield operation is critically important to the overall success of development plans in the Arctic, both looking for new sources of energy and increased marine shipping through the region.”

“‘Safe, Ready and Balanced’ is the guiding principle of the Bertholf – and precisely the mindset Alaskans want and deserve from the largest-ever Coast Guard effort in the Arctic, as the Arctic Shield mission pioneers a new level of operations off Alaska’s shores,” said Murkowski.  “It’s one thing to describe the commitment levels of Alaska’s Coast Guardsmen with words, but an entirely different thing to see them at work. This is something you’re not going to see in a Capitol Hill hearing room, and I am glad that Secretary Napolitano and Senator Landrieu were able to see, in person, Alaskans standing ready to help move the country forward to new possibilities as an Arctic Nation.”

Commissioned in 2008, the Bertholf is the first of the Coast Guard’s Legend-class National Security Cutters and is participating in Arctic Shield which requires at least one flight deck-equipped cutter to be present in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas at all times to respond to oil spill clean-up and participate in search and rescue. Arctic Shield is the Coast Guard’s 2012 summer operation plan for Alaska when it will dramatically increase its presence in the Arctic as Shell Oil Co. prepares to drill wells in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.