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Storis moves closer to Juneau

Transfer authorization passes House, awaits Senate action

Posted: November 17, 2011 - 12:06am

The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday gave its approval for the U.S. Coast Guard’s decommissioned cutter Storis to be passed on to Juneau, where it would be on public display.

Rep. Don Young reports authorization for conveyance of the Storis to Juneau was included in the Coast Guard Reauthorization bill approved Wednesday, one of a package of budget bills under consideration.

“We’re hugely encouraged, this is good work by Congressman Young, following the good work of Sen. (Mark) Begich,” said Joe Geldhof, secretary of the non-profit Storis Museum.

Young had introduced a bill to transfer the historic Storis to become a museum ship in Juneau, but then on the House floor Wednesday was able to get the authorization into the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2011, the bill authorizing Coast Guard funding.

Young spokesman Luke Miller said the Storis conveyance was a top priority of Young’s. The decommissioned Storis is currently in San Francisco Bay.

The act covers three years of funding for the Coast Guard at between $8-$9 billion year. That’s crucial to Alaska, but also includes some specifics that Young identified as priorities for the state as well.

That includes the Storis conveyance, encouragement for new icebreaker construction, and Arctic emergency response and operations at the publicly owned Ketchikan drydock, Young said.

“This is a good day for Alaska,” said Young in a press release detailing the bill’s provisions.

The reforms it includes will help the Coast Guard in being more efficient in carrying out its mission of protecting Alaska’s and the nation’s coasts, he said.

The transfer of the Storis to Juneau faltered in the Senate last year, but Begich thinks it has much better chances this year, said spokesperson Julie Hasquet.

This year, with Begich chairman of the Ocean, Fish and Coast Guard subcommittee of the Commerce Committee, he’s already managed to see the transfer authorization included in the spending bill that is awaiting action on the Senate Floor.

“This is one of his Alaska priorities in the bill and we will work to make sure it is included in the final conference report,” Hasquet said.

Geldhof said a long-term home for the Storis has not yet been identified. Locations under consideration include both inside the new cruise ship docks and on dry land, which has some big maintenance benefits.

“It will be a really attractive addition to the waterfront,” at any location, Geldhof said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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