Legislation headed for the US Senate Appropriations committee includes $10.351 billion to help fund Coast Guard operations nationwide, including two separate allotments of $18.3 million for aircraft replacement. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who serves on the Homeland security Appropriations subcommittee, requested funds for two H-60 Jayhawk helicopters, one to replace the HH-60 Sitka aircraft lost in a crash last year, and another to give Kodiak the full fleet the Coast Guard indicates it needs. The choppers are often used in rescues at sea.
The measure also includes $39 million for the Coast Guard’s Ice Breaker Program in polar regions. Murkowski said the Coast Guard’s Alaska responsibilities dwarf those of most other bases nationwide, and that they deserve all the support the nation can provide.
The Gulf of Mexico has six different Coast Guard air stations spread from Texas to Florida, compared to the Coast Guard in Alaska, which has two air stations to cover the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Pacific and Arctic oceans, she said.
The bill includes $1.477 billion nationwide in state and local training/equipment grants, from which Alaska will also receive grants from funds earmarked for state and homeland security, port security, assistance to firefighters and SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) firefighter grants.