Frankfort Coast Guard Station closing for the season

FRANKFORT — The Frankfort Coast Guard Station will be closing its doors for the season on Oct. 1.

Coast Guard stations located at Frankfort and Ludington will be closing for the season. Coast Guard Station Manistee will remain open all year and handles calls for those areas as well as the area by their own station.

Coast Guard stations located at Frankfort and Ludington will be closing for the season. Coast Guard Station Manistee will remain open all year and handles calls for those areas as well as the area by their own station.

“Coast Guard Station Frankfort will be standing down in the coming week,” said Adrian Ledesma, petty officer, second class, of the Manistee Coast Guard Station. “This typically follows a noticeable trend in a decrease in boating traffic. That’s the main thing we’re looking at. We use that to determine when there will be realistically no need to have Coast Guard rescue boats in those particular harbors.”

Ledesma said the Frankfort station and Ludington station were both shutting down, and all Coast Guard personnel would be moved to Manistee for the winter.

“Station Manistee retains the capability to act quickly and effectively to get to emergencies in the areas those stations operate in,” he said. “If there is a maritime emergency, we can quickly respond. The difference will be a matter of minutes.”

However, he said that with fewer boats in the water, there was less likelihood of a maritime emergency.

Ledesma also said Coast Guard staff at Manistee would have more time to practice ice water rescue drills, and teams would be working with local organizations to help train for an ice water emergency.

“There will be dedicated training teams going all over northwest Michigan to train fire departments and regional rescue personnel in ice water rescue tactics,” he said.”

Local response teams, such as the Frankfort Fire Department, will be the first on-call. The department has a dive team and has training in ice water rescue. The sheriff’s office also has an air boat, which is housed at the Frankfort Fire Department, which can also be used for ice water rescue.

Josh Mills, superintendent for the City of Frankfort, recently met with Coast Guard and other city and county officials to discuss response to maritime emergencies and training, such as rescuing people who have fallen off the pier.

“The station is transitioning into a seasonal station, and moving forward, we want to do a better job moving forward and working together to do cross training for ice water rescue.”

It is the second year the station has shut down during the winter months since Coast Guard officials started talking about transitioning it to a seasonal station in 2016; when city officials and area first response organizations met with Coast Guard officials to discuss the idea and begin planning.

In the past, both Mills and members of the community have expressed a disappointment with the Coast Guard’s decision to make the station seasonal, citing off-season water recreation was still popular in the area.

“It has been a compromise between local communities and the Coast Guard,” Ledesma said. “Years ago, the Coast Guard was looking to shut down a few stations, but there was massive public support for the local stations, so we reached a compromise. They would be made seasonable, and personnel consolidated in the winter.”

Ledesma said the biggest factor for the decision was budget constraints.

“This plan allows us to get maximum operation coverage of our area and provide timely search and rescue response while also being good custodians of taxpayer’s dollars.”

Several incidents of people being washed off the north breakwater at Frankfort; one which resulted in a fatality, has brought attention to the dangers of walking on the breakwater.

August and September seem to be prime months for people being swept off the wall, according to records from the Frankfort Police Department.

“The United States Coast Guard and local municipalities want people to exercise extreme caution when walking on breakwater,” said Adrian Ledesma, petty officer, second class, of the Manistee Coast Guard Station. “Lake Michigan a lovely sight to behold, especially the sheer magnitude and power, but that power can turn against you and have tragic consequences. If it looks rough out. If there are rougher conditions, a person could get swept off.”

Ledesma said it doesn’t take much to knock people over, especially those who may have balance issues, such as young children and the elderly.

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