Kodiak Coast Guard Public Affairs Officers Return from Gulf of Mexico



Petty Officer Sara Francis aboard the drilling rig Q4000 in August. It was one of several rigs drilling relief wells near the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy of Sara Francis.

Jacob Resneck/KMXT

This week the U.S. government declared the well that spilled around 5 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico officially dead. It’s been called the worst accidental offshore spill in history and caused when BP’s Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.

Three Coast Guard public affairs officers from the base in Kodiak spent time as the Coast Guard pulled in resources and personnel from all over to mitigate the disaster. One of those was Petty Officer Sara Francis who described the size of the response.

(gulf1 "The pulled enough … for a couple of months) 14 sec

Petty Officer Charly Hengen is also a public affairs officer stationed in Kodiak. She spent time interviewing responders in the Gulf for the Coast Guard, some of them also had been temporarily assigned to the Gulf from their homeports in Alaska.

(gulf2 "While I was down there … it’s a secondary function.") 45 sec

Petty Officer Jonathan Lally is new to Kodiak. He’d only been here several months when he was given orders in August to return to his homestate of Louisiana. Growing up in Baton Rouge, he said he could empathize with the local people whose livelihoods were disrupted.

(gulf3 "I knew what was at stake … that lifestyle that they had.") 33 sec

Alaskans have a lot of professional expertise in spill response, especially since the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. Francis says she encountered a lot of Alaskans working in the gulf not only from the Coast Guard but also the private sector.

(gulf4 "When I was in Grand Isle … source of the spill was different.") 17 sec

Despite the thousands of miles between Kodiak’s fishing fleet and Gulf fishermen Francis says she saw some clear parallels between the two communities.

(gulf5 "I think the love of the water … they want to return to that.") 23 sec

The three public affairs officers were sent in different rotations starting in June and wrapping up earlier this month.

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