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Begich Record of Supporting Coast Guard


ANCHORAGE- Senator Mark Begich has consistently delivered increased investment, resources and infrastructure to Alaska’s Coast Guard. Using his clout in the U.S. Senate Mark Begich has delivered results for Alaska’s Coast Guard members, bases, and missions. In a second term he is committed to working with his colleagues to ensure expanding Alaska’s Arctic is a priority.

“In the Senate Mark Begich has delivered for Alaska’s Coast Guard and continues to make resources and infrastructure for Alaska’s coastal and Arctic communities a priority. Mark Begich has introduced legislation with Senator Murkowski to build polar icebreakers, he’s passed legislation to deliver three new Coast Guard cutters to Southeast Alaska and he’s delivered millions for better Coast Guard housing, docks and facilities,” said Max Croes, Communications Director for Alaskans for Begich.

Mark Begich’s Record Includes:

  • Secured investment for Coast Guard housing in Cordova
  • Delivered funding to increase broadband deployment to the Prince William Sound region, assisting the Coast Guard.
  • Secured two new Fast Response Coast Guard cutters for Ketchikan.
  • Secured a new Fast Response Coast Guard cutter for Juneau.
  • Secured funding for floating Coast Guard dock in Ketchikan.
  • Helped secure funding for a feasibility study for deep water Arctic port in Coast Guard Reauthorization.
  • Secured increased support in the Appropriations Committee for increased Coast Guard ice breaking capabilities in the Arctic.

This week, Mark Begich unveiled his plan to expand the Arctic economy. Download Mark Begich’s Arctic Plan here. Begich’s plan includes a call to strengthen Alaska’s Coast Guard and scientific understanding of the Arctic. As Chair of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Fisheries and the Coast Guard, Mark has a leadership role to push the Administration to respond to this challenge moving forward.

Some Examples of Mark Begich Delivering for Alaska’s Coast Guard:

Arctic Icebreakers

Begich Secured Increased Support In Appropriations Bill For Coast Guard Icebreaking Capabilities In Arctic. Reported the Cordova Times in July 2013, “Provisions to support increased Coast Guard activity in the Arctic were inserted in a subcommittee version of the Department of Homeland Security appropriations bill for fiscal 2014 on July 16 by Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, the Atmosphere, Fisheries, and the Coast Guard, Begich has been vocal in his support for greater icebreaking capabilities for the Coast Guard, in order to accommodate increased shippng activity and oil and gas development in the Arctic. ‘The shrinking Arctic sea ice is opening up a new frontier of maritime commerce and development,’ Begich said. To that end, the United States must make sure it is prepared for increased traffic, and today’s bill is an important step toward stronger icebreaker capability, while keeping spending in check, he said.” [Cordova Times, 7/19/13]

Begich Introduced Legislation Requiring Coast Guard To Develop Plan To Reactivate Polar Sea Icebreaker. Reported Bloomberg in March 2014, “The active U.S. polar icebreaking fleet has just two ships. S. 2131 would reactivate the Polar Sea, a big icebreaker taken out of active service in 2010. Begich’s bill would require the Coast Guard to develop a plan for reactivating the Polar Sea for seven to 10 years and would authorize ‘such sums as may be necessary’ for the purpose.” [Bloomberg, 3/21/14]

Fast Response Cutters

U.S. Coast Guard Announced Two New Fast Response Vessels In Ketchikan By 2015, And A Third In Juneau By 2020. “In a recent letter to U.S. Senator Mark Begich, the US Coast Guard announced it is moving ahead with plans to replace its patrol fleet and upgrade facilities, including its Ketchikan base. Captain G.G. Bonner writes that the plan is to replace an aging patrol fleet in Sector Juneau that is nearing the end of its service life, and improve operational safety. In Ketchikan the Coast Guard will build a 405-foot floating pier and a new 3,000-square-foot support building. In a news release sent out today (Wednesday), Begich writes that he’s pleased with the news. He says the Coast Guard plays an important role in Alaska, and the projects will not only create jobs, they will help ensure Southeast has adequate protection. The Coast Guard also says it will homeport two Fast Response Vessels in Ketchikan by 2015, and add a third in Juneau by 2020.” [KRBD, 6/12/13]

Coast Guard Fast Response Cutters Have An Estimated Cost Of $73 Million Per Boat. “The Coast Guard’s program of record (POR) calls for procuring 8 National Security Cutters (NSCs), 25 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPCs), and 58 Fast Response Cutters (FRCs) as replacements for 90 aging Coast Guard cutters and patrol craft. The NSC, OPC, and FRC programs have a combined estimated acquisition cost of about $21.1 billion, and the Coast Guard’s proposed FY2015 budget requests a total of $768 million in acquisition funding for the three programs. […] FRCs are considerably smaller and less expensive than OPCs. They have an estimated average procurement cost of about $73 million per boat. A total of 30 have been funded through FY2014. As of June 5, 2014, the first nine had been commissioned into service. (The tenth was delivered to the Coast Guard on June 25, 2014, and is scheduled to be commissioned into service on September 6, 2014.) The Coast Guard’s proposed FY2014 budget requests $110 million in acquisition funding for two FRCs and associated program costs.” [Coast Guard Cutter Procurement, Congressional Research Service, 8/5/14]

Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill

Cordova Times: “Begich . . . Helped Shepherd [Coast Guard Reauthorization] Through The Senate.”Reported the Cordova Times in December 2012, “The 2012 Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, which includes a number of provisions benefitting Alaska, passed in U.S. Senate on Dec. 12 and went to President Obama for his signature. As chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and the Board Guard, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, made the motion for final passage of the bill, which he helped shepherd through the Senate. ‘Americans rely on the Coast Guard to protect us from threats to our security from the sea, to protect us from threats to our security from the sea, to protect us while we are on the sea, and to protect the sea itself,’ Begich said.” [Cordova Times, 12/21/12]

Coast Guard Reauthorization Bill Included $1.5 Billion For Acquisition And Construction Nationwide - $170 Million More Than Guard Received In 2012. Reported the Arctic Sounder in December 2012, “The bill authorizes the Coast Guard’s total annual operation and maintenance funding of $6.9 billion, plus $1.5 billion for acquisition and construction of new vessels, aircraft and shore facilities. That’s $170 million more than the Coast Guard got in 2012.” [Arctic Sounder, 12/14/12]

Coast Guard Reauthorization Included Continued Moratorium On Discharge Permits For Commercial Fishing And Use Vessels Under 79 Feet. Reported the Cordova Times in December 2012, “The legislation also contains other items of importance for Alaska’s commercial fishermen, among them continuing the existing moratorium on vessel discharge permits for another year, through December 2014. All commercial fishing vessels and commercial use vessels under 79 feet will not be mandated to have a NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit until December 2014.” [Cordova Times, 12/21/12]

Future Arctic Commerce

Headline: KSRM: “Begich Works to Increase Coast Guard Funds for Arctic Activity.” [KSRM, 7/17/13]

Begich Introduced Legislation To Give Coast Guard Additional Resources To Increase Arctic Presence. Reported The Hill in March 2014, “Begich has introduced legislation to give the U.S. Coast Guard more resources to increase its Arctic presence. He has also encouraged the Senate to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty, an international agreement that allows member countries to use the oceans. ‘Hand in hand with that sovereignty is the ability to protect our national interest in the region, something the Department of Defense and our nation’s military will be crucial in carrying out,’ Begich said.” [The Hill, 3/19/14]

Begich Scheduled Hearing In Anchorage With Coast Guard Commandant On Future Of Coast Guard In Alaska. Reported the Associated Press in August 2011, “U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is holding a hearing in Anchorage Friday on the future of the Coast Guard in Alaska. Coast Guard commandant, Admiral Robert Papp, is scheduled to testify. A listening session is also planned related to the needs of Coast Guard service members and their families. Other issues include regulations for fishing vessels, licensing of merchant mariners and oil spill response vessels. Begich chairs the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. He alone will lead the field hearing of the subcommitteeFriday. Begich says there are numerous, important issues facing the Coast Guard in Alaska. He says he looks forward to hearing from Papp and others on how best to ensure the agency has adequate resources and families have the support they need.” [Associated Press, 8/12/11]