HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed Thursday it will consolidate its station in Holland and extend responsibilities to crews in Grand Haven.
That means the Holland station will not be staffed this summer.
The Coast Guard first registered paperwork to start the process last June, opening a period for public feedback. A station in Grand Marais, Minnesota, will also be consolidated with one in Duluth.
The Holland station has been staffed only for the summer since 2018, hosting crews between Memorial Day and Labor Day. According to a news release from the Coast Guard, the Holland station averaged about 24 cases per year since 2010.
Lt. Paul Rhynard, a public affairs officer for the Ninth Coast Guard District, said the decision wasn’t made lightly.
“We would not consolidate these stations if we thought it would increase the risk to boaters or the maritime industry,” Rhynard stated. “This decision was made after careful research and with the safety of the public as our top priority.”
In an interview with News 8 last summer, Rhynard said the advances of modern technology and local partnerships allow the Coast Guard to work much faster than when these stations were first opened.
“The logic behind these stations was based on horse-drawn carriages, using manpower. There wasn’t aircraft, there wasn’t motorboats, for the matter, even at that stage,” Rhynard said at the time. “When you look at the way search and rescue was conducted over 100 years ago and the way it is now and the technology and ability to respond to those areas quicker than we ever have, that’s a factor as well, but ultimately there are very few situations on the Great Lakes, much less in Holland, where we are the only agency in the water responding.”
Education programs and other tech advancements have also sharply reduced the number of search-and-rescue cases over the years. In 2004, the Coast Guard averaged 33,000 search-and-rescue cases per year. By 2019, that number average had dropped to 15,000.