KODIAK, Alaska (KINY) Even the US Coast Guard must get ready for Old Man Winter.
Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aircrews opened its seasonal forward operating location in Cold Bay, Alaska, Sunday, in advance of the winter fishery season. Coast Guard aircrews delivered equipment and air assets to Cold Bay as a measure to reduce search and rescue response times around Bristol Bay, the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands.
The Cold Bay FOL will consist of one MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter with a rotating aircrew from Air Station Kodiak. The Kodiak-based air station will continue to have helicopter and HC-130 Hercules aircrews available at a moment’s notice if needed to assist with other search and rescue incidents or assist in complex, long-range cases. A Coast Guard cutter equipped with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Kodiak will also be on patrol in the region throughout the season.
Since August, Kodiak-based aircrews have conducted six search and rescue cases either in the Aleutian chain or from a vessel in which the patient was taken to Cold Bay in order to be transferred to commercial medical services.
Air Station Kodiak utilizes FOLs throughout the state of Alaska to reduce response times to mariners in distress. During the summer month, Jayhawk aircrews are deployed to Cordova and Kotzebue. “Forward deploying a Jayhawk helicopter to Cold Bay sets our assets in a ready posture that provides maximum ability to efficiently respond to members of the fishing fleet, maritime communities and isolated villages that are in need of assistance,” said Lt. Meg Peters, Air Station Kodiak public affairs officer and Jayhawk pilot. “Decreasing the transit time to reach the Bering Sea and the distant portions of the Aleutian Islands greatly increases the effectiveness of our response and can make the difference between life and death. A deployed helicopter to Cold Bay coupled with proper survival gear and signaling devices by personnel in distress can make a grave impact in the outcome of a perilous situation.”