Murkowski Meets with Future Coast Guard Alaska Commander

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The nominee for command of the Coast Guard’s 17th District met with U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today, telling her he fully recognizes the critical importance of Coast Guard missions in Alaska.

Rear Admiral Thomas P. Ostebo served at Coast Guard Air Station Sitka during the Exxon Valdez oil spill. He told the Senator the assignment gave him a first-hand understanding of Alaska’s weather and resource challenges.

Murkowski shared her concerns about the decommissioning of Coast Guard Cutter ACUSHNET – one-third of Alaska’s major cutter fleet – and the proposed decommissioning of one of the nation’s two heavy ice breakers.

“We have 3.8 million square nautical miles to cover in Alaska, and Washington, DC is asking a shrinking cutter fleet to do the job.  Beyond that, the threat of leaving only one ice breaker in Alaska waters would kneecap the Coast Guard’s ability to fully respond to an Arctic marine or environmental disaster,” Murkowski said.  “Thanks to Alaska, the U.S. is an Arctic nation. It’s time for Congress and the White House to realize our natural resources, national security and population are being neglected up north by their inactivity.”

Ostebo also expressed his support for the U.S. ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas.  Murkowski agreed UNCLOS is vital to protecting U.S. interests in the Arctic and stated that she would continue to work with her fellow members of Congress and the Administration to push for the treaties ratification.

“While I am truly saddened to see Rear Admiral Christopher Colvin leave Alaska, I am excited to have met his replacement to welcome him back to Alaska and I look forward to working closely with him on the Coast Guard issues that impact Alaska and the Arctic.”

Murkowski is a member of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, which oversees the Coast Guard budget.