Headquartered in Reykjavik, the Icelandic Coast Guard (ICG)
is a civilian law enforcement agency that is responsible for search and rescue
(SAR), maritime safety and security surveillance, and law enforcement in the
seas surrounding Iceland, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) in Iceland,
hydrographic surveying and nautical charting. The ICG operates the NATO Iceland
Air Defence System and Control and Reporting Centre (CRC) Keflavík, which feeds
its data into the NATO Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem in Germany.
Given its unique geographical location, Iceland and Allies have
agreed that maintaining a periodic presence of NATO fighter aircraft based at
Keflavik is most appropriate to help keep the Nation’s airspace safe and secure.
NATO military aircraft deploy to Iceland up to four times a year to provide the
country with air interception capabilities.
It is paramount for these NATO jets to rely on the ICG
providing SAR, which is indispensable for air operations safety. "When an
emergency occurs, the NATO units call the ICG SAR,” says Commander Asgrimur
Asgrimsson at the ICG Headquarters in Reykjavik. "Should a pilot need to be
rescued after a bail out from a jet the SAR operation will be initiated,
coordinated and controlled by the ICG operation centre here in our capital.”
"Our three multipurpose vessels execute coast guard duties
and rescue operations,” says Commander Einar H. Valsson, commanding officer and
captain of the Ægir; this ship is operated by a crew of only 18 officers and
sailors. "We regularly cooperate with our neighbouring countries, NATO and the
EU. From 2010 to 2015 we deployed the Ægir and, subsequently, the Tyr to the
Mediterranean Sea where they worked with other nations under FRONTEX. We rescued
some 5,000 refugees from the sea, accommodated them on board and transferred
them to safe places on shore.”
The ICG flying assets are a Bombardier Dash8Q 300 Maritime
Surveillance Aircraft and two Aerospatiale Super Puma helicoptersAS-332. They
are often the most effective and efficient asset to respond to emergencies
across the huge landmass of Iceland and the surrounding seas.
In total the ICG employs 250 staff members who apply their skills,
education and experience as vessel captains, pilots, aircraft mechanics,
engineers, sailors, explosive ordnance specialists, and various experts in the
ICG's headquarters. Two special departments at Reykjavik – the hydrographic
section and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal section – and the CRC Keflavik complete
the ICG organisation.
Photos by Cynthia Vernat, more photos at: http://bit.ly/22xXM8s