Closing the U.S. Coast Guard air station at Newport would “threaten the safety of mariners who make their living in the waters around Newport,” six members of Oregon’s congressional delegation told Coast Guard commandant Paul Zukunft in a letter Wednesday. They urged him to reverse an announced decision to shift a Coast Guard helicopter and crew to North Bend, on the southern Oregon coast.
The letter was signed by Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer and Kurt Schrader, all Democrats.
Residents of the central Oregon coast have been up in arms about the Coast Guard decision since the agency announced its plans to close the air station at the end of November. The Newport City Council this week passed a resolution asking the Coast Guard to reconsider. An online petition to Save the Newport Rescue helicopterhas more than 7,500 signatures.
“We join the Oregon coast community in expressing our admiration and support for the USCG and its mission,” the Congresspersons wrote. “We also believe strongly that removing search and rescue assets from Newport would only heighten the chance of a very preventable tragedy.”