WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis and Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) are asking the Secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, to conduct a review of the Marine Corps plan to end the Cherry Point search and rescue (SAR) squadron known as Pedro. The 2015 Marine Aviation Plan appears to push the Marines SAR responsibilities onto the Coast Guard, however, the plan does not properly coordinate the transition with the Coast Guard. As a result, it is not certain that the Marine Corps would be able to meet all of its own SAR needs. In addition, last year Pedro support also aided in 22 life-saving emergencies in the civilian community, providing medevac flights, finding lost children, and helping boaters and aviators.
In the letter to Secretary Mabus, Senator Tillis and Congressman Jones expressed concern that the Pedro squadron’s life-saving military and civilian missions in the region might be compromised if the SAR duties are transferred from the Marine Corps to the Coast Guard. They have asked for more details regarding DOD’s plans to meet those needs, including cost projections, since this transition is being justified on the basis of fiscal cuts to the Marine Corps budget.
“Congressman Jones and I have serious concerns that this plan could compromise mission readiness and support at Cherry Point,” said Senator Tillis. “Several critically important issues need to be addressed, including the additional burden placed on the Coast Guard, before Cherry Point’s search and rescue capabilities are diminished.”
“There are a number of serious questions about this plan,” said Congressman Jones. “Taxpayers have a right to answers to these questions before any final decisions are made, and Senator Tillis and I will get those answers.”