U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue coordinators and marine safety officials are meeting with their Russian counterparts in Alaska this week.
The meetings focus on discussing their roles and missions, working to improve cooperation during future searches and touring Coast Guard operations around the state, said Petty Officer Roger Wetherell of Juneau.
"We're discussing better coordination of search and rescue missions in the Bering Sea and sharing information on conducting safety inspections aboard oil tankers," said Lt. David Arritt, a 17th Coast District search and rescue coordinator.
The Coast Guard does not conduct many cooperative searches and rescues with the Russians, Wetherell said.
"But having a cooperative agreement in place is important, so when we do search and coordinate with the Russians, we do so along the same lines and put our efforts together in the best possible way."
The Russian officials participating are Capt. Anatoly Vyborov of the Vladivostok Marine Rescue Coordination Center and Mikhail Egorov of the Sakhalin State Maritime Administration.
On Tuesday afternoon, Coast Guard search and rescue crews demonstrated at-sea retrieval of a man overboard in an exercise in Gastineau Channel, said Cmdr. Michael Neussl, in charge of search and rescue for the Coast Guard in Juneau. Today, the groups will travel to Sitka to tour the Coast Guard Air Station there.
"They will put a swimmer in the water and use another person in a helicopter hoist to rescue him, to show our capabilities," Neussl said.
The Russian visitors, their hosts and two interpreters will then fly to Kodiak for a visit at the Coast Guard's largest air station in Alaska and tour the cutter Storis, the oldest in the Coast Guard's fleet.
On Friday morning, the Rescue Coordination Center in Anchorage will host the groups. Then the coordinators will go to Fort Richardson for an oil spill equipment response demonstration.
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