Murkowski Welcomes New Coast Guard Assets to Alaska
“The importance of the USCG to Alaska cannot be understated”
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) welcomed the announcement that the Coast Guard will homeport six Fast Response Cutters (FRC) in Alaskan communities, which will enhance the Coast Guard’s coastal capability to perform search and rescue operations, protect our fisheries, and improve resiliency to disasters throughout Alaskan waters. In a letter from the Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Zukunft wrote Senator Murkowski today (attached) that two FRCs will be homeported in Kodiak, one in Seward, one in Sitka, and the two FRCs currently in Ketchikan will remain there. These new larger cutters are a significant upgrade from our current fleet of 110 ft. patrol boats. They bring the newest and most advanced systems, and a new, larger platform with more endurance to our coastal waters. In addition, the Coast Guard will homeport a Coastal Patrol Boat in Petersburg and one in Juneau.
“The importance of the Coast Guard to Alaska and our entire nation cannot be understated. From rescue missions to protecting our vital fisheries, to monitoring our vast waters, these men and women work daily to ensure the safety and security of Alaskan waters. It is critical for us to provide these important upgrades to our aging current fleet, allowing the Coast Guard to better serve Alaska and protect our arctic borders,” Senator Murkowski said. “It is imperative that we have the most capable assets available and that we have them strategically located. Where we place our assets in order for them to be responsive is crucial not only from a national security perspective, but for fisheries enforcement and search and rescue missions as well.”
“Thank you for your consistent support of the Coast Guard and recognition of the services we provide in Alaska,” Admiral Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard wrote. “I ask for your continued support as we work with the Administration and Congress to request funding, and for the support of city officials as we mutually prepare for the arrival of the patrol boats. The Coast Guard values its relationship with each Alaskans community and I appreciate your support as we continue to serve the citizens and maritime community of Alaska.”
In the FY18 government budget, the U.S. Coast Guard received $340 million to fund six FRCs, which are in various phases of the construction process, to replace the aging 110 ft. patrol boats. As a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murkowski strongly advocated for Fast Response Cutter funding and that they be spread throughout as many communities as possible. The vessels are larger than the 110 ft. patrol boats they will be replacing, meaning they also require larger and stronger docks with adequate amenities, maintenance support units and will be manned by bigger crews. We will need to invest in the shore-side infrastructure to support the vessels, crews and their families. Also included in the FY18 government budget, $51.5 million to fund Coast Guard housing and shore-side infrastructure projects that will support current and future Coast Guard assets in Alaska, such as these FRCs.
Senator Murkowski is a member on the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee and supported the FY18 government funding bill.