Key West CitizenSeptember 10, 2017

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Coast Guard Air Station Savannah and Hunter Army Airfield are hosting aircraft and crews from across the United States for prepositioning of response assets for Hurricane Irma, beginning Saturday.

Coast Guard aircrews are temporarily moving up to 18 aircraft to Hunter Army Airfield – nine MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, seven MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters, one HC-144 Ocean Sentry and one C-130 Hercules airplanes in order to respond to search and rescue needs on the Gulf Coast of Florida.

With Hurricane Irma moving up the western coast of Florida, response crews and assets could potentially be cut off from Gulf Coast response units in New Orleans and Mobile, Ala. Assets are also being moved from Coast Guard air stations in Miami, Clearwater and Jacksonville to get them out of the hurricane’s path. Assets and personnel are also coming from Elizabeth City, North Carolina; Cape Cod, Massachusetts and Detroit.

“We have been monitoring the storms movement and are strategically placing our personnel and assets where they can be best utilized for response purposes,” said Capt. Marshall Branch, commanding officer Air Station Savannah. “We are able to effectively respond to surge operations because we have service-wide standardized training for all our crews.”

With the aircraft coming into Savannah, it will potentially bring in more than 70 additional response personnel.
Mariners in life-threatening situations should contact their nearest Coast Guard command center at the following numbers during the absence and degradation of VHF communications due to Hurricane Irma:

Sector San Juan Command Center 787-289-2041
Sector Key West Command Center – 304-433-3352*
Sector Miami Command Center 305-535-4477
Sector St. Petersburg Command Center 305-535-4477
Sector Jacksonville Command Center 904-714-7500

*Editor’s Note: Please note this is a temporary line established until telephone services are restored and evacuated watchstanders are able to return to Sector Key West. Sector Key West will resume use of normal contact numbers as soon as possible.