During a well-timed break in the rain yesterday, dozens of Coast Guardsmen, civilians, politicians and construction workers gathered at large grassy field on base. The area is the site of future Coast Guard housing, and yesterday’s gathering was the groundbreaking for the 18-month project. The end result will be 20, three-bedroom houses in the form of 10 duplexes. KMXT’s Brianna Gibbs was at yesterday’s groundbreaking and filed this report.
From left to right: Lars Wagner, the project manager for Perini Construction, Vice Admiral Charles Ray, the commander of Coast Guard Pacific, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Captain Jeffrey Westling, the commander of Coast Guard Base Kodiak, participate in the groundbreaking for new housing on the Coast Guard base in Kodiak. Brianna Gibbs/Photo
U.S. Senator Mark Begich was in town last week on a campaign swing. The Alaska democrat is seeking re-election this year and opened a campaign office on the island. Begich also stopped by KMXT to talk about a handful of topics important to the Kodiak community, including plans for the Coast Guard.
Kodiak is home to the largest Coast Guard base in the country and Begich chairs the U.S. Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. He said he’s worked hard to make sure funds are going toward new cutters and maintaining old ones.
“Two years ago we passed a bill that actually put some money toward the first stage of planning for a new ice breaker, but we also made sure there was money for the Polar Sea and Polar Star to make sure those ships continue to get renovated and operational. Because the Coast Guard wanted to get rid of those and we thought, those are two strong hulls that should just be renovated – spend $60 million on one and upwards to $80 million or more on the other one, but the end result is these new ice breakers can cost $700 plus million so it’s very cheap to take care of those first two, which we’re in the process of doing. One we’ve already done, one we’re about to start the next planning stage of revamping it.”
While money is put aside for planning and building a new ice breaker, Begich said there certainly isn’t enough and that will be a challenge for future years to make sure that project goes through.
He said the Coast Guard bill also includes three new fast cutters for Southeast Alaska. Continue reading
The U.S. Coast Guard in Alaska has a new commanding officer. Rear Adm. Dan Abel took over from Rear Adm. Tom Ostebo at a change of command ceremony Thursday in Juneau.
Ostebo is known for his work in the Arctic, and Abel says he’s ready to continue what his predecessor started. KTOO’s Casey Kelly reports. Continue reading
The Coast Guard cutter SPAR has a new commander. On Friday Lieutenant Commander Douglas Jannusch relieved Michele Schallip as the cutter’s commanding officer.
Shallip has been at the helm of the 225-foot buoy tender since 2011 and will now serve as chief of waterways management for the Coast Guard’s 13th District.
Jannusch comes to Kodiak from the Bahamas where he served as a liaison officer. He was responsible for supporting all regional Coast Guard missions and worked closely with the U.S. Ambassador, among other things. He has a bachelor of the arts from the University of California in Irvine, and a master of international policy and practice from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Jannusch took over as the SPAR’s commanding officer during a formal change of command ceremony on Friday.
USCG Petty Officer 3rd Class Travis Obendorf. (USCG photo)
A Coast Guard petty officer has died in a Seattle hospital, more than a month after being injured during a rescue in the Eastern Aleutians.
In a statement, the Coast Guard says Petty Officer Third Class Travis Obendorf died Wednesday at Swedish Hospital following surgery. He was a crew member aboard the Cutter Waesche.
On November 11th, the Waesche sent its small boat to rescue the crew of the fishing vessel Alaska Mist. The 166-foot freezer-longliner had lost power and was adrift off Amak Island, which is north of Cold Bay.
The Coast Guard reports that Obendorf suffered a head trauma while bringing the cutter’s small boat back aboard after the rescue. One of the Coast Guard helicopters on scene flew him to Cold Bay, where he was medevac’d on a commercial life flight to Anchorage and later Seattle for treatment. The cause of his accident is under investigation.
(KMXT’s Jay Barrett contributed to this story)