MATHEWS, Va. (WAVY) — The Coast Guard won’t change year-round service at its station in Mathews County after pushback from the community.
Suspension of service at the station outside of the summer months was considered as the Coast Guard looked to “optimize the capabilities of its boat stations.”
However community members feared slower response times if the 25 active duty members currently assigned to Milford Haven, which opened in 1967, were moved to Portsmouth in the “offseason.”
“Somebody has a boating incident and they are overboard … well in the summertime you can survive pretty good, the water’s warm,” said Michael Rowe, chairman of the Mathews County Board of Supervisors. “In the wintertime when the water is 40 degrees, you got 20 minutes.”
In August, the board passed a resolution calling the idea a “disregard for the safety” of boaters in the area, and reached out to state and federal officials for help.
Community members also came out to a public hearing hosted by Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st District), who reached out to Coast Guard leadership to help keep the station open all year.
“This is fantastic, long-awaited news. Communities along the Chesapeake Bay successfully joined together to communicate the importance Station Milford Haven has to Middle Chesapeake Bay residents,” Wittman said in a statement. “Following the public hearing, the United States Coast Guard recognized Station Milford Haven’s importance to the community … Station Milford Haven’s ability to provide a timely response to any emergency on the water has proven critically important to the safety of residents of the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, and the western side of the Chesapeake Bay. These waters remain popular throughout the year, with many businesses dependent upon these waters during the winter months.”