Coast Guard, City of Two Rivers discuss changes to local Coast Guard operations

Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan LogoTWO RIVERS, Wis. — Representatives with the U.S. Coast Guard, City of Two Rivers, and Two Rivers area response agencies met in Two Rivers recently to discuss a Coast Guard proposal to optimize its response capabilities by adjusting how it operates Coast Guard Station Two Rivers, starting in the fall of 2016.

Under the proposed plan, Station Two Rivers will remain staffed with response crews Friday through Sunday during the summer months, and will operate and respond from its parent unit in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, on other days. Built into the plan is flexibility for the seasonal station to begin operating in early spring or into late fall when necessary, and to resume operations if needed during special events.

The Two Rivers facility will continue to be occupied year round by 10 Coast Guard members responsible for maintaining aids-to-navigation in the region. Separating the search-and-rescue and aids-to-navigation functions and personnel allows more specialization and proficiency and is the method used by the Coast Guard in most areas of the country. It is similar to having separate police and fire departments. These changes allow the Coast Guard to better staff, train and equip the boats and crews continuing to serve the Two Rivers area.

Station Two Rivers’ search and rescue operations will be fully staffed during the summer of 2016, and the proposed changes will be put into effect in the fall of 2016.

“We want the community to know that our crews will still be on the water in Two Rivers ready to respond to emergencies and enforce federal laws and regulations,” said Chief Petty Officer Christopher Zahn, officer in charge of Station Two Rivers. “Although response crews may not be operating from Two Rivers year round, they will continue to serve this area. We’re also very grateful for the relationships we have with our partners here, who we will continue to work alongside to ensure the public’s safety and security.”

City Manager Greg Buckley responded to the Coast Guard’s plans, stating “While we obviously are sorry to see any reduction in staffing here in Two Rivers, we recognize that the Coast Guard is trying to make optimal use of very limited resources to cover a very big lake. We will be monitoring the situation closely as these changes unfold, recognizing the importance of Coast Guard functions related to recreational boating, commercial fishing, and the nearby Point Beach Nuclear Plant.”

“The Two Rivers Police Department has a great working relationship with our Coast Guard partners in Two Rivers,” stated Two Rivers Police Chief Joseph Collins. “We have teamed with the Coast Guard on numerous calls and have also partnered during training events. During my 11 years as police chief the level of two-way communication and collaboration has been outstanding. We believe this will continue into the future.

“With the improvement of equipment and technologies, the response of a fully staffed and trained Coast Guard within our area will enhance our response during critical situations in our area,” he added. “We will continue to communicate the needs of our community and look forward to working with our Coast Guard.”

Two Rivers Fire Chief Scott Schneider also emphasized his department’s longstanding working relationship with Station Two Rivers.

“Personnel from the Fire Department have worked side by side with Coast Guard staff on several fire and EMS incidents over the years,” he said. “We have also participated in open water and ice rescue training evolutions. We will continue to strengthen our relationship and partnership with this realignment.”

“It’s important to note that this is not a cost-saving initiative,” said Capt. Amy Cocanour, commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “The layout of our stations has not changed since our boats were powered by oar, and years of research has shown that these changes will allow us to optimize our resources, reduce redundancies that currently stretch our crews extremely thin, and will allow us to provide even better service to the community.”

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