Coast Guardsmen assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Detroit, located at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Mt. Clemons, Mich., and Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City, Mich., are scheduled to begin operations Friday at their seasonal air facilities in Muskegon, Mich., and Waukegan, Ill.
Every year, crews man the AirFacs in order to provide increased search-and-rescue capabilities and faster response times to Lake Michigan during the busy boating season. Both AirFacs traditionally operate from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day.
Crews from Air Station Detroit operate AirFac Muskegon, which is located at Muskegon County Airport, while crews from Air Station Traverse City operate AirFac Waukegan, which is located at the Waukegan Regional Airport. Each AirFac is manned by two full four-man aircrews and one MH-65C Dolphin helicopter.
"We always look forward to positioning our search-and-rescue aircraft and aircrews at our seasonal air facility in Muskegon," said Cmdr. Joseph Deer, commanding officer of Air Station Detroit. "From this locale, we can best respond to the needs of citizens who enjoy summer boating on Lake Michigan."
The opening of the AirFacs on Friday coincides with the end of National Safe Boating Week. The theme of NSBW this year is "Wear it!" All boaters and weak swimmers are urged to be vigilant in always wearing their life jackets in and around water.
Boaters are also encouraged to take a boating safety course and leave a float plan ashore with a family member or another trusted third party. Swimmers should always swim near a lifeguard and never swim alone. A great resource to practice safe water activities is the Coast Guard's boating safety resource center at http://www.uscgboating.org.
"Our aircrews are ready to respond 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Cmdr. Joseph Buzzella, commanding officer of Air Station Traverse City. "However, it is imperative for folks on the water to always be prepared. The weather on the Great Lakes is very unpredictable. Wear a life jacket, pack a personal location beacon and dress for the water temperature – not the air temperature. The Coast Guard motto is 'Semper Paratus' – or 'Always Ready.' We recommend you adopt the same motto when heading out on the water this summer."