“There is a proposed downsizing,” said Lieutenant Commander Paul Salerno, COMMSTA’s commanding officer. “It is not for certain, nothing’s been signed officially yet.”
Currently, 53 people work at COMMSTA, and the proposed downsizing would cut 20 of those.
Salerno said the positions, or billets as they’re known in the Coast Guard, cut would be the commanding and high-ranking positions, including his.
All three of the officer positions at COMMSTA and 17 enlisted positions will be cut. In addition, two civilian positions, which are currently vacant, are being moved to Virginia.
The electronic technicians, who make repairs, will probably still work out of the COMMSTA buildings, but will be working for Base Kodiak. The operation specialists will be overseen by a senior enlisted person.
“The reality is for the professional fisherman and mariner, there’s still going to be live watch standers here at COMMSTA, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and we’re still going to be monitoring the high-frequency distress channels that we currently monitor and providing the weather broadcast that we do now,” Salerno said. “None of the services that the COMMSTA provide are going away.”
COMMSTA’s primary mission is for search and rescue, Salerno said. They monitor three radio distress channels, 4125, 6215 and 8291 KHz, and broadcast the weather. They also provide aircraft flight following, keeping track of the aircraft that leave from Air Station Kodiak.
They monitor and broadcast more than a 100 miles off shore including the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska and the North Pacific, Salerno said.
If the proposal goes through, the downsizing would start in summer 2015.
That’s when Salerno is scheduled to transfer to another unit.
“People will, through the normal transfer season, just depart and go to new units and then once their billet is vacated, it won’t be filled again. That billet will go away,” Salerno said. “That’s where the Coast Guard gets its money savings from.”
The proposal is currently at the Coast Guard headquarters in Washington D.C., but Salerno didn’t know what stage it was in, or when it would be officially signed.
Salerno also did not know how much money the downsizing was expected to save.
COMMSTA is located across from the Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport part way out Anton Larsen Bay Road. It most recently made the news when a civilian employee, James Wells, killed a member of the Coast Guard and another civilian employee in 2012.
Contact Julie Herrmann at email@example.com.