Coast Guard has put out a request for bids to provide contract helicopter
services based on Kodiak Island. The on-call service isn't to supplement the
air station's search and rescue choppers, but rather to allow them to remain
available for SAR missions.
Greg Dykes, based in Juneau, is the executive officer for the Rescue 21 Project.
He said hiring a commercial helicopter service is the best way to do various
flying jobs in support of the program while not incurring the expense of using
the Jayhawk and Dolphin helicopters at Air Station Kodiak as delivery vehicles.
-- (USCG 1 22 sec "Both
types of aircraft ... assist us with our operations.")
helicopter will be used to deliver personnel and equipment to remote
mountaintops where the Coast Guard is upgrading VHF maritime communications in
coastal Alaska as part of Rescue 21.
-- (USCG 2 25 sec "We
also do maintenance ... fly there by helicopter.")
proposal stipulates that the helicopter and pilot must be based in Kodiak, and
the contract has gone for several years to Maritime Helicopters of Kodiak. But
Dykes says the bidding process is open, and any helicopter company in the
nation could win the bid, as long as they're willing to station a pilot and
chopper here in Kodiak.
21 program is an upgrade to VHF radio communication along coastal Alaska,
designed to make communications with fishing boats and other ships at sea more
reliable. Dykes explains that one feature of the technology called "Digital
Selective Calling," will help the Coast Guard pinpoint ships in distress:
-- (USCG 3 34 sec "Anyone
who's bought a new ... to effect a rescue.")
21 program will continue its build-out through 2017. The on-call helicopter
contract runs between May 1st and the end of the year.