Coast Guard One Step Closer to Permanent Presence at Airport

Coast Guard aviation crews prepare the HC-144 Ocean Sentry medium-range aircrafts for response efforts at Air Station Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas, Aug. 24, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Johanna Strickland)
Coast Guard aviation crews prepare the HC-144 Ocean Sentry medium-range aircrafts for response efforts at Air Station Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas, Aug. 24, 2017. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Johanna Strickland)

United States Coast Guard Lt. Karl Alejandre stood near a runway at the Corpus Christi International Airport during near freezing temperatures as three Coast Guard aircraft circled the airport.

On Wednesday, the three EADS HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft circled the airport twice before landing and entering a runway flanked by two fire engines.

As the airplanes made their way between the fire engines, they were sprayed with water, which Alejandre said is an aviation tradition.

The aircraft represented the many that will soon make their way from the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi to the airport, where a newly constructed Coast Guard hangar is housed.

"This will mark the first time the Coast Guard has had a permanent presence at the airport at Valent Hall," Alejandre said. "This means we're getting one step closer to getting a permanent operational presence at the airport."

The hall is named after Pablo Valent, a Corpus Christi native, who was highly decorated in the Coast Guard in the early 1900s.

The move into Valent Hall, a 170,000 square-foot building, was expedited because of Hurricane Harvey, which caused water damage to the hangar at the naval base, Alejandre said.

Valent Hall, located on 9.5 acres of land, will house personnel that will move from the Tower II building in downtown Corpus Christi and from the naval base.

"This has been in the works for about three years. The construction of it and the planning and funding took about a year," said Carl Gross, operations manager of the airport. "Construction was about a year and a half, and work on the taxi way took about a year."

All the construction and planning will soon pay off once personnel is moved into the hangar. Benefits of the move should be seen almost immediately.

The major benefit of the move -- aside from a newly constructed facility -- will be an improvement in communication once all personnel are housed in one building, Alejandre said.

"It gives the Coast Guard quick access to the primary runway. Being at this airport, our control tower is 24-7, the airport is open 24-7," Gross said. "We also have police, EMS and fire department crews here. There are things here they wouldn't normally get at the naval base."

A ribbon cutting for the hangar is expected to take place in March after the last of the Coast Guard helicopters make the move to the hangar in February.

--This article is written by Alexandria Rodriguez from Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Texas and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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