Sullivan: Coast Guard is vital to national security

Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, visited Cordova last month as a part of his larger tour with the U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Adm. Linda Fagan, throughout stations in Alaska. Along with fellow Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sullivan visited Coast Guard bases in Juneau, Kodiak, and Cordova. At the culmination of the tour, Sullivan also took time while in Cordova to attend the Prince William Sound Science Center’s Copper River Nouveau event on June 10. 

Sullivan’s visit came just ahead of the command change for the Coast Guard cutter Fir (WLM 213). The Fir is currently serving as the buoy tender stationed in Cordova. The 225-foot vessel’s primary mission is to service navigation aids throughout Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska. The command change ceremony aboard the Fir on July 6 welcomed Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Foust in relief of Lt. Cmdr. Mike Manuel. After the morning ceremony, Copper River Brewing opened for a special mid-day reception celebrating the command change. 

Sullivan said he is interested in supporting a buildup of the Coast Guard in Alaska. As a part of the 2022 Coast Guard Authorization Act, Sullivan advocated for an increase in appropriation levels, which would enable the Coast Guard to increase infrastructure development and undergo vessel capitalization. The bill was passed as part of the FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Sullivan authored a number of Alaska-focused provisions in the bill, honorarily named the 2022 Don Young Coast Guard Authorization Act, which focused resources on the Arctic and Alaska in particular.

For Cordova, this could align with the planned Oil Spill Response Facility at Shephard Point. In June, the senator attended a trilateral meeting with the Eyak Corporation and Chugach Corporation about the Shepherd Point project to learn about areas where they have made progress as well as discuss the potential to increase telecommunication infrastructure. Sullivan is interested in possibilities the project might include to bring a fast-response Coast Guard cutter to the region. The 2022 Authorization Act includes $420 million for six additional Fast Response Cutters overall. This could have a noticeable impact in Alaska’s 17th District which, according to the Department of Homeland Security, saves an average of 22 lives a month within 47,300 miles of navigable shoreline.

Sullivan said that advancing the safety and security provided by the Coast Guard relies on supporting Coast Guard families who serve in the region.

“One of the key issues that restricts USCG access in Alaska is housing,” said Sullivan during his recent visit.

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Provisions in the 2022 Authorization Act aim to support families who serve in rural regions through pay and benefit improvements, and adjustments to basic housing allowances. Sullivan says this bill shows his office’s continued commitment to this branch of the military, the importance of which he feels cannot be stressed enough.

“The United States Coast Guard is vital to the security of our nation, particularly in Alaska,” he said.

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