The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard has delayed the closure of a Charleston air station until mid-December, giving South Carolina's congressional delegation more time to try and save the air station, the state's two U.S. senators announced Friday.
In a joint release issued Friday afternoon, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Sen. Tim Scott said Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul Zukunft had delayed the closure of Air Facility Charleston from Nov. 30 to Dec. 15, giving the senators more time to find funds to continue operating the air station.
Congress returns to session on Nov. 10.
Scott said losing the air station would have "serious implications" on Charleston's port and adversely impact mariners and tourists in the region.
Located on Johns Island outside Charleston, the air facility houses one of the five search-and-rescue helicopters assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Savannah.
The Charleston facility and one in Newport, Ore., were slated for closure because of cuts necessitated by sequestration. On Tuesday, members of Oregon's congressional delegation announced the delay of the Newport air station's closure until Dec. 15.
The helicopter stationed on Johns Island will return temporarily to Tybee Island but eventually be reassigned elsewhere, and the Savannah station will also lose one of its four helicopters. That would mean just one helicopter in the air for hundreds of miles, from the North Carolina state line to Melbourne Beach, Fla.
In Friday's release, Graham said the closest Coast Guard helicopter to Charleston would be 80 miles away--crucial distance and time that can become the difference between life and death, he said.
Read more here: http://www.islandpacket.com/2014/10/31/3404140/close-of-charleston-coast-guard.html#storylink=cpy