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Coast Guard's First New Air Station In Two Decades Being Built On South Coast

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Lance Orozco/KCLU News
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A Coast Guard helicopter drill off the Ventura County coastline.

Former Los Angeles station, temporarily located at Naval Base Ventura County, getting permanent home at base.

The Coast Guard is going to build a major new base for its helicopters on the South Coast, which means that the region is going to have improved access to help in emergencies.

The Coast Guard’s air operations for the Central and South Coasts came out of Los Angeles for more than a half century. But, in 2016 Los Angeles International Airport decided not to renew the base's lease. The agency moved its facilities to Naval Base Ventura County on an interim basis.

Now, a new regional base serving the coast from Dana Point, in Orange County, to Morro Bay will be built at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC).

Vice Admiral Michael McAllister is Commander of the Coast Guard Pacific Area. He says the new air station will be the first one added by the Coast Guard in more than two decades.

He says the crews at the base do everything from search and rescue missions to helping intercept smugglers. They also work to protect the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, serving as airborne cops.

Captain Thomas Cooper is Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco, as well as Commander of the temporary Forward Operating Base at Point Mugu. He says the $53 million base will include a 48,000 square foot hangar and a 12,000 square foot administration and housing facility for on-duty crews.

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U.S. Coast Guard image
Artist's conception of the planned Naval Air Station Ventura, which is being built at Naval Base Ventura County.

There are 13 permanent crew members and 11 rotating crew members operating out of the temporary base. They have two helicopters currently at NBVC but will have four there full time when the new facility opens.

Nathan Shakespeare is one of the Coast Guard pilots flying from the base.
He had the honor of making the first landing at what will be the new Coast Guard facility, which is on the opposite side of the runways as most of the Navy Base’s facilities.

Construction is expected to take about two years, with Coast Guard Air Station Ventura opening in August of 2023. While the facility intends to have four helicopters and around 80 personnel, the hangar is large enough to handle a total of eight helicopters.