Newport Fishermen’s Wives and the Newport, Oregon community fought hard and won the one-year extension of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Newport helicopter base.
Fishermen’s Wives of Newport, a non-profit, and co-complainants sued the Coast Guard when the Newport air station was slated to close due to budget ills. Their lawsuit states that closing the air station violates the Coast Guard’s legacy missions including marine safety, search and rescue, and aids to navigation.
On December 11, Congress passed a bill that prohibited the Coast Guard from closing the Newport air station. “It was an enormously impressive effort on the part of stakeholders and the community to challenge this on all fronts: politically, in the press and in the courts,” said Fishermen’s Wives of Newport’s attorney Michael Haglund. The helicopter base in Newport will remain open until January 1, 2016.
The battle is not over, however. Now NFW’s president Jennifer Stevenson said her group hopes to convince Coast Guard administration to keep the air station open after the one-year budget deal expires.
Stevenson said, “The extension has given us the opportunity to work with the Coast Guard to see why we can’t lose the helicopter-because it leaves our community vulnerable.”
“That helicopter is such a necessity out there and I am very happy they were able to save it for at least another year or so,” said Kelly Madden, skipper of the F/V BLAZER when it sank on November 29 off of Newport. Some of his crew was rescued by the Newport-based helicopter.
Democratic members of the Oregon delegation said in a statement they would also continue fighting to keep the Newport air station open.