PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Members of Newport’s coastal community joined several prominent Oregon politicians Tuesday morning to call for a reversal of the Coast Guard’s decision on the Newport air base.
Tuesday afternoon, following a plea from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley, Congressman Kurt Schrader, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, members of the Newport Fisherman’s Wives Group, along with commercial fishermen and coastal first responders, the U.S. Coast Guard delayed the closure of the Newport helicopter facility.
The air facility was initially set to close November 30, but that date has been moved to December 15.
In a a phone conversation with the U.S. Coast Guard’s D.C.-based Commandant, Merkley, Schrader and Senator Ron Wyden were told the additional two weeks would allow for more thorough risk management and emergency preparedness for recreational and commercial fishermen, among other beach users, a spokesperson for Merkley said.
Wyden, Merkley and Schrader promised to do everything possible to keep the Coast Guard helicopter in Newport.
Fishermen, politicos share stories
Echoing sentiments from previous actions in support of keeping the base, speakers at Tuesday morning’s gathering said the Newport helicopter is a matter of life and death.
If the base closes, it would take Coast Guard officials an hour to get to the central coast from the nearest base at Astoria.
The hours’ time delay for a helicopter to arrive from Astoria is too long, Newport residents say.
October 20, there was standing room only at a community meeting attended by the U.S. Coast Guard to discuss the closure of its air base in Newport.
Depot Bay rescue
Several teens, who were stranded on a rock due to a massive incoming tide, were rescued just weeks ago near Depot Bay.
The Newport Coast Guard base was able to send out a helicopter and rescue the teens.