Fishermen’s Wives fight to save ‘lifeline’ helicopter

Newport Coast Guard helicopter could be removed

A US Coast Guard rescue helicopter. February 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
A US Coast Guard rescue helicopter. February 17, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

NEWPORT, Ore. (KOIN 6) — After action was delayed for several months, Newport Fisherman’s Wives said they are still fighting to save the Coast Guard helicopter facility.

The Coast Guard rescue station was slated to close at the end of last year, but was given a last minute reprieve. Now it is in danger of closing again, and two members of Oregon’s congressional delegation were in Newport Tuesday to work on the long term plan.

“Unfortunately for a lot of folks in D.C., it gets down to a numbers game,” Congressman Kurt Schrader told KOIN 6 News.

The Coast Guard rescue helicopter has been a longterm lifeline for many people in Newport’s fishing community. Now, it is in danger of closing because the Coast Guard is having to compete for resources with homeland security.

Senator Jeff Merkley and Congressman Schrader told a group of people in Newport’s fishing industry the Coast Guard is now more actively involved in protecting America’s coastlines from illegal immigration and terrorist threats. This has made it financially harder for the Coast Guard to justify keeping the rescue helicopter in Newport.

“Having had excellent success so far sets us up in a good spot and I think it helps the Coast Guard on the west coast make their case to their leadership back in D.C.,” Congressman Schrader said.

Newport Fishermen’s Wives told KOIN 6 News the Coast Guard helicopter in Newport has an excellent record of saving stranded fisherman out at sea.

“But to the degree that is taking second place or third or fourth or fifth, given all the other demands on the Coast Guard right now, should be very concerning to the American public,” Ginny Goblirsch with Newport Fishermen’s Wives said.

Senator Merkley and Congressman Schrader made no promises to the Newport fishing community, but said they would take the fishermen’s message back to Washington D.C.

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