Responsible for 4 Million Square Miles… The Coast Guard on Kodiak Island

 

H-60 ready to fly at Coast Guard Station in Kodiak, Alaska.

An H-60 helicopter located on the Coast Guard Station on Kodiak Island is fueled up and ready to fly on a moment’s notice.

An H-60 Helicopter sits in front of the large helicopter repair and maintenance hangar at the Coast Guard station on Kodiak Island. It’s on ready alert, fueled up and prepared to take off at a moment’s notice. Whether it’s a fishing boat in distress, a lost hiker, a wandering oil rig, or a remote village medical emergency, the pilots, cutter crews, maintenance crews, and rescue specialists of the Coast Guard are available around the clock to perform their errands of mercy.

Another view of the flight ready H-60.

Another view of the flight ready H-60.

They also monitor commercial fishing, keep an eye out for environmental disasters such as oil spills, and perform routine maintenance on buoys and other marine navigational aids. It’s a big job, especially when you consider that the Kodiak station is responsible for some four million square miles.

It is also a challenging and dangerous job. If you have watched the Weather Channel series, Coast Guard Alaska, you are aware that Alaska has some of the most severe weather in the world and that the Coast Guard teams are expected to perform their rescue efforts in almost all weather conditions. Think of trying to rescue someone off of a moving boat in high waves with low visibility, high winds, extreme cold and driving rain.

Artistic rendition of H-60 rescue effort at sea.

I found this artistic rendition of an H-60 rescue effort on an information board at the Kodiak Harbor. The pilot is required to hold his helicopter in place under severe conditions while the rescue crew performs its exacting, dangerous job.

When we arrived in Kodiak, our son Tony had just completed his first year of a three-year assignment in Alaska as a Coast Guard pilot for the long-range H-60 helicopters. With three tours in Iraq as a Marine Helicopter pilot and several years of flying H-60s out of San Diego for the Coast Guard, he came to Alaska well qualified for his duties in Kodiak and at remote locations such as the island of St. Paul north of the Aleutian Archipelago.

In addition to their regular assignment to Kodiak, Coast Guard H-60 pilots are also assigned to remote areas for one to three week tours. In this photo, Tony flies his H-60 over the remote island of St. Paul north of the Aleutian Island chain halfway between Alaska and Siberia.

In addition to their regular assignment to Kodiak, Coast Guard H-60 pilots are also assigned to remote areas for one to three-week tours. In this photo, Tony flies his H-60 over the remote island of St. Paul north of the Aleutian Island chain halfway between Alaska and Siberia.

In addition to touring us around the island and taking us fishing, Tony gave us a tour of the base and the helicopter maintenance facility. Cammie and the boys came with us.

The Coast Guard Air Station on Kodiak rightly features a Kodiak Bear on its logo.

The Coast Guard Air Station on Kodiak prominently features a Kodiak Bear on its logo.

The Coast Guard's helicopter hangar/maintenance facility on Kodiak Island.

The Coast Guard’s helicopter hangar/maintenance facility on Kodiak Island. We took this photo from the water when we were on our way halibut fishing.

A front view of one of the Coast Guard's H-60s in the Hangar on Kodiak Island. Tony sits on the left in the picture while our grandson Connor sits on the right.

A front view of one of the Coast Guard’s H-60s in the Hangar on Kodiak Island. Tony sits on the left in the picture while our grandson Connor sits on the right in Peggy’s lap. 

Our youngest grandson Chris gets to try out his dad's seat for size while Peggy looks on.

Our youngest grandson Chris gets to try out his dad’s seat for size in the H-60 while Peggy looks on.

The HH-65, a smaller short-range helicopter is designed to fly off of Coast Guard Cutters and accompanies them on their deployments.

The HH-65, a smaller short-range helicopter, is designed to fly off of Coast Guard Cutters and accompanies them on their deployments.

The fixed-wing C-130 also flies out of the Kodiak Air Station.

The fixed-wing C-130 also flies out of the Kodiak Air Station.

The H-60 shown above is featured here in its natural setting with the mountains of Kodiak Island forming the background.

A final view of the flight-ready H-60 is featured here with the mountains of Kodiak Island in the background.

NEXT BLOG: Some of my favorite Kodiak photographs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 comments on “Responsible for 4 Million Square Miles… The Coast Guard on Kodiak Island

  1. I have lots of respect for the Coast Guard rescue crews. I’ve spent some time at sea, and know how scary it can be. They’re the quiet heroes and don’t get enough attention. Bravo to your son for doing a hard but necessary job, and to his family for their support. ~James

  2. Wow.. my father would love to see that CG exhibit..he loved planes and such and as for little guy..can i kidnap him for a bit, he’s a darling 🙂

  3. The Coast Guard has aircraft based at Ellington Field, and every day, just as regular as clockwork, one of the helicopters flies over the lake either going to or returning from Galveston – or wherever. They’re a great comfort, and absolutely respected. We’ve lost people from our sailing community, but many have been saved because of the Coasties.

    One of the funniest (ironic, unbelievable, etc) stories from Hurricane Ike involved some friends who decided to make a run for Lake Charles from Galveston, in their sailboat. The Coast Guard closed the intracoastal and told them to anchor. They did, things went wrong, they got picked up by the storm surge and carried inland over three treelines (!). They landed in a cane field, with almost no damage to the boat. It’s a long story, but eventually a USCG helicopter from New Jersey that was on its way to NOLA spotted their last flare (!) and picked them up. Later, the Discovery Channel helped to fund the heavy lift helicopter that got their boat back to water – for the film rights, of course!

    We love the Coast Guard!

    • Tony has great stories to tell… like the old guy out of San Diego who was determined to sail off to a South Pacific Island. The Coast Guard had to rescue him twice and pull his boat back to port. The third time he was a couple of hundred miles out at sea when a bad storm disabled his boat beyond repair. A ham radio operator out of Texas picked up his distress call. Tony flew out to rescue the old man but he refused to leave his boat and was insisting that the Coast Guard send out a ship to haul it back in. Tony and his crew finally persuaded the old man that he couldn’t let his dog die because of his foolishness. So he allowed they could take the dog. They then persuaded him he would have to ride up in the basket to keep the dof from jumping out… and that’s how they goth him back to shore. –Curt

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