U. S. Coast Guard on Kodiak Island

Visitors to Kodiak Island often see the giant orange and white C-130 Coast Guard planes soaring across the sky. It’s a treat to be strolling on Buskin Beach and watch them take off or land over the water. Other times visitors will hear the thwap-thwap-thwap of a helicopter and look up to see a bright orange helicopter conducting maneuvers or zooming out on a rescue mission or medical evacuation.  This is Air Station Kodiak at work.

Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak is a Seventeenth Coast Guard District unit and was commissioned as an Air Detachment in 1947 on the site of an old ranch.  It represented the first permanent Coast Guard aviation resource in Alaska. The Air Station, formally established in 1972, is the major tenant of Integrated Support Command Kodiak and is the largest Coast Guard common in the entire Pacific Area. 

The air station is supported by Dolphin and Jayhawk helicopters and by the Hercules Fixed-Wing C-130.  The men and women who work, fly and swim for the U.S. Coast Guard are in Alaskan air and waters to save lives and monitor U.S. and international fishing fleets.  They also ensure that sea lion rookeries remain unmolested and fishery openings and closings remain within the law. Kodiak personnel fly missions as far away as Barrow, Alaska and Attu in the Aleutian chain.

Coast Guard Floating Fleet

The Coast Guard’s striking orange and white ships also provide service to Alaska’s fishing fleet and Kodiak waters. USCGC Munro (WHEC-724)is a High Endurance Cutterof the United States Coast Guard, named for Signalman First Class Douglas A. Munro(1919–1942), the only Coast Guardsman to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

The Alex Haley(WMEC-39) is a former U.S. Navyvessel that was recommissioned for Coast Guard duty on July 10, 1999. It was first commissioned as the USS Edenton (ATS-1), an Edenton-classsalvage and rescue shipon January 23, 1971.

USS Edenton before becoming the Alex Haley

The conversion from a salvage ship to a Coast Guard cutterinvolved the removal of the stern towing machine, forward crane, and A-frame, and the installation of a flight-deck, retractable hangar, and air-search radar. Additionally, her four aging Paxmandiesel engineswere replaced with four 16 cylinder Caterpillardiesels.

The cutter was named after authorand journalistAlex Haley, the first chief journalist of the Coast Guard, the first African-American ever to reach the rank of Chief Petty Officer, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Haley served in the Coast Guard for 20 years. The Alex Haley carries out fishery law enforcement and search and rescue missions in and around Kodiak waters.

The third ship home ported at USCG Kodiak is the USCGC Spar (WLB-206). The ship tends buoys in the Aleutian Islandsof Alaska, and has acquired the nickname Aleutian Keeper. The Spar also performs other duties, such as maritime border security, maritime environmental protection, maritime law enforcement, search and rescue, and domestic icebreaking. The cutter is named after the Coast Guard Women's Reserves, also known as SPARSfrom the Latin and English translations of the Coast Guard Motto: Semper Paratus; Always Ready!

Visiting the Coast Guard Base

Visitors are welcome to the U.S.Coast Guard base located at mile marker 6.3 on Rezanof Road, but after passing through the gate must stop at Military Police Headquarters, show proof of insurance and driver’s license and obtain a permit to be on the base.  There are times of heightened security when the general public may be denied access.