Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski praises Kodiak commands for the work the Coast Guard does to keep Kodiak and Alaska safe.
Following is the text of a speech Murkowski gave on the U.S. Senate floor on Wed. Jan. 15, 2020.
It has been formatted to make it easier to read.
SENATE SPEECHES AND INSERTS Page S240 Jan. 15, 2020
RECOGNIZING THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD RECOGNIZING THE UNITED STATES COAST GUARD
Ms. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise today to commend the Coast Guard men and women who serve in Kodiak, AK, a designated Coast Guard City. On February 7, Kodiak’s Chamber of Commerce will hold a community-wide celebration called “We Applaud You.” I want to take a moment to join in applauding the Coast Guard as a whole and all the Coast Guard personnel serving in Alaska, but especially those based in Kodiak who help make our great State a safe place to live and work.
Kodiak is a robust Coast Guard City: it is homeport for three cutters, fifteen aircraft, a communications detachment, the North Pacific Regional Fisheries Training Center, the Aids to Navigation Team, and of course, Base Kodiak. Each of these components serve and protect Alaskans on a daily basis, and I would like to highlight some particularly important examples of their contributions and service to Alaska.
Personnel from the Marine Safety Detachment in Kodiak helped oversee and coordinate multiple pollution responses on Kodiak Island last year, including responding to a diesel spill in the Buskin River, and a separate spill of Fuel Oil at Kitoi Bay Hatchery. The Marine Safety Detachment’s prompt actions and clean-up expertise helped keep the island of Kodiak’s rivers and coastline beautiful and safe. My sincere thanks to Marine Safety Detachment Kodiak.
On New Year’s Eve, the search and rescue team, including Air Station Kodiak and the Coast Guard Cutter Mellon responded to a sinking fishing vessel, the F/V Scandies Rose. The crews faced 40-knot winds, 15-30 foot seas and significantly reduced visibility at the scene of the sinking. The search and rescue team successfully recovered two survivors from a life raft but the five remaining crew members were lost.
My heart goes out to the families and friends of those lost at sea. The crew of the Scandies Rose is in my prayers; this accident has hit especially close to home for Kodiak, which is a tight-knit fishing community, as well as a Coast Guard City.
As we mourn the loss of the Scandies Rose, we are incredibly grateful for the efforts of the Coast Guard to rescue the survivors in the face of extremely dangerous conditions. We see these type of heroic actions in movies, but the Coast Guard in Alaska operates in dangerous, life-threatening conditions every day in order to keep Alaskans safe. To the entire search and rescue team, we applaud you, and Alaska thanks you.
Now, I also want to sincerely thank Base Kodiak, the home of “Rock Solid Support.” Your work behind the scenes provides the foundation for all of the ready and responsive work done by those on the front lines. You truly are the rock solid support that keeps things moving, whether it is the medical and dental clinics keeping over a thousand people healthy; the Morale Welfare and Recreation team keeping the crew happy and energized—and in shape—the personnel support staff who recently completed a 5-year effort to increase salaries and close a long overdue pay gap for wage grade members across Alaska; or the facilities engineering department, who have improved living conditions for Kodiak’s most junior Coast Guard members by converting housing units to allow two single members to share them.
It is so important to me that our junior Coast Guard men and women are able to enjoy improved housing arrangements while away from home, maybe for the first time. Maybe they will be so comfortable in Kodiak that they want to come back to Alaska and call it home.
I applaud all 450 personnel of Base Kodiak who keep the Coast Guard operations going.
Finally, I want to take a minute to speak to the contributions and sacrifice of our Coast Guard families, partners, and spouses. So much of the demanding work that our Coast Guard men and women do each day is made possible by the love and support of their families.
This is especially true when additional burdens are placed on Coast Guard personnel, like we experienced this time last year, when the Coast Guard was left unpaid during the 35-day government shutdown. Here in Congress, I will continue to work with Senator Sullivan to pass the Pay Our Coast Guard Act, which will ensure that a lapse in pay from a government shutdown never happens again. Our Coast Guard families deserve nothing less. [Page S241]
Thank you to the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce for their work to honor our Coast Guard members in Alaska. I applaud you as well for your support for those who serve and for taking the time to say thank you and well done to our Coast Guard Family.