Coast Guard prepares for aid to winter fisheries

A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter inside a hangar at Cold Bay in early October, so that Kodiak-based air crews can respond quickly during the winter fishing season. (Photo courtesy Petty Officer 1st Class Charly Hengen/Coast Guard District 17)

Coast Guard aircrews have delivered equipment and air assets to Cold Bay in advance of the winter fishery season, to reduce the time to initiate search and rescue response times around Bristol Bay, the Bering Sea and the Aleutian Islands.

The Cold Bay forward operating location includes 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 on short notice if needed to assist with other search and rescue incidents or assist in complex long-range cases, the Coast Guard said on Oct. 16.

A Coast Guard cutter equipped with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Kodiak will also be on patrol in the region during the season.

Since August, Kodiak-based aircrews have completed six search and rescue cases in the Aleutian chain or from a vessel in which a patient was taken to Cold Bay to be transferred from the all-weather airport to commercial medical services in Anchorage or Seattle.

Air Station Kodiak uses FOLs to reduce response times to mariners in distress. In summer months, Jayhawk aircrews are deployed to Cordova and Kotzebue.