A sailboat trapped in Arctic ice was rescued and towed to open water by a U.S. Coast Guard cutter Saturday.
The Altan Girl, a 36-foot sailboat from Vancouver, Canada, was traveling to eastern Canada via the Northwest Passage when it became trapped in the ice 40 miles northeast of Barrow. North Slip Search and Rescue were notified and contacted the 17th District Coast Guard watch-standers in Juneau on Monday.
Weather conditions and low visibility made it impossible to reach the vessel by helicopter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided weather and ice forecasts to responders as the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Healy readied to assist the distressed vessel.
The USCGC Healy cut a 12 mile path through Arctic ice with the Altan Girl in tow, performing safety checks on the vessel once they reached open waters. The owner of the vessel was unharmed, and told crew members he intended to sail to Barrow to wait for better weather and restock supplies.
The USCGC Healy was diverted from a National Science Foundation funded research mission in the Arctic to help the vessel, and has since continued with their research.
“The Coast Guard 17th District is committed to working with our federal, state, local and tribal partners along with industry to protect the safety of life at sea in Alaska and the Arctic," said Rear Adm. Dan Abel, commander, 17th Coast Guard District. “This case highlights the important capabilities that Coast Guard multi-mission assets deployed to the Arctic are able to provide to mariners in distress.”