She always wanted to see Alaska – and she was able to do so during her summer internship. First Class Cadet Hope Drake Duval worked at the Marine Exchange of Alaska (MXAK) in Juneau. MXAK does vessel monitoring and tracking using Automatic Identification System (AIS) to promote secure and environmentally responsible maritime operations. Being a government major with law school aspirations, Drake Duval took full advantage of this experience.
“I was interested in seeing how industry and the Coast Guard interact and how the industry can help to fix problems that our service might not be able to because of authority/jurisdiction issues,” said Drake Duval. “MXAK has over 150 land-based AIS receivers throughout Alaska and works closely with the Coast Guard, the State of Alaska, and the Alaska Chadux Network, an oil spill response organization. Their 24/7 watchstanders look for vessels of concern and other signs of distress and notify the Coast Guard,” said Drake Duval.
Drake Duval also travelled to several parts of Alaska to gain exposure to the maritime industry. From riding on “tug & barge” transit from Juneau to Haines and then on a 710-foot cargo ship from Anchorage to Kodiak, Drake Duval saw how the maritime industry plays a large role in the state’s economy.
“These trips gave me an opportunity to see Alaskan mariners and companies in a different way than if I had come across them as a Coast Guard officer. For example, the tugboat I rode on delivers food to very remote communities. If they fail an inspection, we must be willing to help them resolve the issue or else the grocery store shelves will be empty,” said Drake Duval.
Combining her work in Alaska with some downtime to sightsee, hike, kayak, eat Bowhead whale and experience Arctic culture, Drake Duval is sold on designating Alaska as a top choice for a future assignment after graduation.
“I knew before this summer that I wanted to be a part of the afloat community and hopefully go to law school, but the experience and the people taught me a lot and gave me new options to think about that I didn’t even know would be possible,” said Drake Duval.