- Associated Press - Monday, October 27, 2014

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Lawmakers on opposite sides of the nation are working to keep U.S. Coast Guard rescue helicopters stationed along their coasts.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that (https://bit.ly/1wBXM8M ) South Carolina’s U.S. senators are working with Democratic U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon to keep the helicopters in place.

The Coast Guard wants to remove rescue helicopters from Johns Island near Charleston and from Newport, Oregon, to save money.

South Carolina U.S. Sens. Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, both Republicans, have written the Coast Guard commandant criticizing the move.

“The decision to remove this life-saving asset is shortsighted and will result in longer response times when mere minutes and seconds are the difference between life and death,” their letter said.

The two are working with are working with Wyden to find money to keep the choppers in place before they are moved at the end of next month.

The Coast Guard plans to move the helicopter based on Johns Island to Savannah, Georgia, and then it will be transferred somewhere else.

That will leave three helicopters in Savannah, about 80 miles from Charleston, to participate in missions off the coast in an area from mid-Florida to the North Carolina-South Carolina state line.

The Coast Guard has said moving the helicopters will save the agency about $6 million a year.

When the Coast Guard announced the transfer of the Johns Island helicopter, it noted there has been a 43 percent drop in search and rescue missions during recent years.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, https://www.postandcourier.com


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