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CoastGuard deploys helicopter crews to St. Paul, Alaska

Date: Jan. 15, 2013
Coast Guard District 17
KODIAK, Alaska — Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak temporarily deployed two MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crews to St. Paul, Alaska, Sunday to safeguard the crab fleet and other fishing vessels engaged in winter fisheries in Southwestern Alaska.

With an increased number of vessels operating in the region, the Coast Guard deployed the crews to provide a more rapid response should the need arise. The forward operating location in St. Paul will be fully staffed and operational today.

“By staging search and rescue assets on St. Paul in conjunction with increased seasonal crabbing and fishing activity nearby, we significantly decrease our response time to distress calls,” said Capt. Gregory Sanial, chief of response for the Coast Guard 17th District. “The forward operating location has been a successful life-saving strategy time and time again.”

Forward deploying aircraft and crews to St. Paul eliminates a six-hour transit from Kodiak plus an hour refueling stop from the time of initial response to any distressed mariners. Winter is the busiest time of year for fishing activity in the Bering Sea during some of the worst weather conditions.

The Kodiak-based Coast Guard Cutter Munro, a high endurance cutter, will also be in the region outfitted with an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Kodiak aboard.
In this photo from February 2010, a Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak aircrew prepares an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter for flight at forward operating location St. Paul, Alaska. The FOL has consistently been a strategic location for search and rescue response during the crabbing season. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jeffrey Solomon.