Fishermen’s Wives’ Ginny Goblirsch and others spent several days this week driving the point home to the Coast Guard and members of Oregon’s Congressional Delegation, of the critical importance of keeping a Coast Guard rescue helicopter based in Newport. Goblirsch, speaking from Washington DC, told News Lincoln County that “It looks good, very good.” Goblirsch added that Eugene area Congressman Peter DeFazio has become a very effective ally in the coast’s quest to make the Newport helo a permanent fixture in Newport.
Goblirsch says she also met with a number of Coast Guard officials who she said do “get it” about the absurdity of their adopted national response standard of two hours when applied to the deadly cold waters off the northwest coast of the U.S. She says Congressman DeFazio told her that the next big step in keeping the helo in Newport is to make sure it’s in the Coast Guard’s basic operations plan and is fully funded in the federal budget. Goblirsch said the big political push will take place this fall.
Wrapped around this whole issue is the behavior and motivations of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The Coast Guard was put under the department’s control which means getting straight answers from what is largely a top secret defense operation is nearly impossible. The one advantage the Oregon Coast has in this struggle to keep its helo is that Homeland Security is also proposing to end helo rescue operations off the coast of South Carolina which is represented by some very powerful members of Congress. So Oregon is not alone in its effort to keep the Coast Guard in full-out search and rescue mode which is what they say is their primary mission.