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Wittman Saves Milford Haven
Coast Guard Reverses Decision to Suspend Off-Season Operations at Essential Site
Washington, October 4, 2021
MATHEWS COUNTY, VA – Today, Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) announced the United States Coast Guard will continue to operate Coast Guard Station Milford Haven year-round, reversing their previous decision. Prior to this announcement, the Coast Guard had planned to suspend operations at Station Milford Haven during the “off-season” winter months. The Coast Guard reversing this decision follows months of input by Congressman Wittman, including hosting a public hearing in Mathews County, requesting the Coast Guard to extend the public comment period, regularly encouraging his constituents to express their thoughts to the Coast Guard, as well as speaking with both Rear Admiral M.W. Raymond and Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz. In response to the Coast Guard's decision to keep Station Milford Haven operations year-round, Congressman Wittman wrote:
“This is fantastic, long-awaited news. Communities along the Chesapeake Bay successfully joined together to communicate the importance Station Milford Haven has to Middle Chesapeake Bay residents. Following the public hearing, the United States Coast Guard recognized Station Milford Haven’s importance to the community. In response, they extended the public comment period, a measure usually reserved for base closures. As I spoke with Rear Admiral Raymond and Commandant of the Coast Guard Admiral Karl Schultz, I continued to emphasize that the safety afforded by the Coast Guard’s year-round presence at Station Milford Haven was vital to maintaining the area’s economy and way of life.
“The United States Coast Guard should absolutely examine ways to increase efficiency and to streamline operations. Throughout my conversations with the Coast Guard, and as they listened to all those who took the time to share their thoughts, the Coast Guard recognized the unique operational and geographic challenges inherent to the central Chesapeake Bay. Those challenges require year-round operations at Station Milford Haven. Station Milford Haven’s ability to provide a timely response to any emergency on the water has proven critically important to the safety of residents of the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. These waters remain popular throughout the year, with many businesses dependent upon these waters during the winter months. Without a year-round local presence on the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula, Coast Guard Station Portsmouth, which is a two-hour boat trip away, would now become the off-season responding station.
“Having spent much of my life on the water, the safety and well-being of all those on the Bay is a matter of great personal importance. Since being informed of the plan to suspend off-season operations at Station Milford Haven, I fought back against it with everything I had. I sincerely thank the United States Coast Guard for coming to Mathews County to listen to the voices of those who would have been impacted by their decisions. I thank them even more for reversing their decision after hearing those voices. And finally, I thank all of you who joined me in fighting to keep Station Milford Haven open year-round.”
United States Coast Guard Station Milford Haven is located adjacent to the Chesapeake Bay in Mathews County, Virginia. Coastal Virginia counties such as Mathews are home to many recreational and commercial fishermen. During the off-season months, water temperatures in the Chesapeake Bay decline far enough for hypothermia to potentially kill within minutes. Had Station Milford Haven suspended operations during these months, the nearest stations able to respond to emergencies in the area would be approximately 50 miles away. This would potentially leave imperiled mariners without a means of timely rescue.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the First District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he serves as the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.