The Coast Guard’s Great Lakes air stations closed their seasonal air facilities in Muskegon, Mich., and Waukegan, Ill., Tuesday following their annual assignment to support Coast Guard operations in southern Lake Michigan and the surrounding areas.
The air facilities operate during the traditional boating season, which runs from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, to provide enhanced search and rescue services due to the high volume of summer boaters off Chicago, Milwaukee and other southern Lake Michigan areas.
Both air facilities opened this year on May 24, 2013, prior to Memorial Day.
Air Facility Muskegon, which falls under the command of Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, is located at Muskegon County Airport, while Air Facility Waukegan, falling under Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., is located at Waukegan Regional Airport. Both air facilities are staffed by aircrews deployed from their parent air station and maintain two aircrews and one MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter to provide search and rescue services 24 hours a day during the summer months.
Air Facility Waukegan responded to 19 search-and-rescue cases this summer, while Air Facility Muskegon responded to 14.
“Air Facility Waukegan enhances the Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue coverage of southwestern Lake Michigan during the busy summer months, especially the greater Chicago and Milwaukee areas,” said Cmdr. Sean M. Cross, commanding officer of Air Station Traverse City.
“Our crews gain experience flying in and around the busy metropolitan air corridors and also benefit from working with Coast Guard shore units and partner agencies in the area. Although the air facility has closed for the winter, the men and women of Air Station Traverse City stand ready to respond when needed throughout our area of responsibility — lakes Michigan, Superior and Huron.”
Air Station Traverse City is a year-round Coast Guard facility established in 1946 and located on the southern end of Grand Traverse Bay in northern Michigan. It is staffed with 135 personnel and five MH-65C Dolphin helicopters. Air Station Detroit is a year-round Coast Guard facility established in 1966 and located approximately 13 miles northeast of the Detroit city limits, on the shores of Lake St. Clair. It is staffed with 115 personnel and five MH-65C Dolphin helicopters.
Both air stations operate under the direction of the 9th Coast Guard District, headquartered in Cleveland, to provide multi-mission capabilities in the Great Lakes region.
“The summer boating season is coming to a close,” said Cmdr. Joseph Deer, commanding officer of Air Station Detroit. “It has been a pleasure working alongside and serving the Lake Michigan boating public. As temperatures decrease this fall season, please take additional precautions if you are going out on the water.”
Now that Labor Day has passed and the the traditional boating season has come to a close, the Coast Guard encourages those who continue to recreate on the Great Lakes, to follow these boating safety tips. The Coast Guard also reminds boaters to take proper precautions as the air and water temperatures start to decrease throughout the Great Lakes. Although the winter is still several months away, the Coast Guard also recommends that Great Lakes recreaters consider preparing for the cold water and ice season by following these coldwater and ice tips.
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