The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Campbell made history last week when it became the first medium endurance famous class cutter to be awarded the Arctic Service Medal.
Its crew earned the medal, given for a service period of more than 21 days north of the Arctic Circle, while conducting joint exercises off the coast of Greenland alongside forces from the Royal Danish Navy vessel HDMS Knud Rasmussen.
The crew remained above the 66°33′N line of latitude from August 16 until September 12, while patrolling a total of more than 10,000 nautical miles and reaching as far north as the 72nd parallel, the Coast Guard confirmed.
During the push North, Campbell “assisted in crucial scientific research efforts through its Arctic deployment,” a Coast Guard release said, “deploying numerous International Ice Patrol and National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration buoys into regions that have never been sampled before.”
To no one’s surprise, the imagery to emerge from the cutter’s trek through the Arctic is stunning, with jagged mountains, glacial waters, and the impressive ice formations of Evighedsfjorden, or Eternity Fjord, serving as the deployment’s backdrop.
Bravo Zulu to Campbell’s crew for their trailblazing trek and for earning the Arctic Service Medal, an award that features an engraving of a polar bear positioned under the North Star — easily one of the best medals ever issued to members of the U.S. armed forces.
(Unless, of course, you were Adm. George Dewey, who was awarded the Dewey Medal — a piece of chest candy with his own mustachioed bust — for actions during the Spanish-American War.)
Check out the otherworldly photos below from Campbell’s Arctic exercise.
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.