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Coast Guard Station in Sandwich significantly cuts search-and-rescue hours

Boats in storage at the Bass River Marina in Dennis.
John Basile
Boats in storage at the Bass River Marina in Dennis.

The Cape Cod Canal Coast Guard Station at the Sandwich Marina is cutting search and rescue service hours this summer because of staffing issues.

Instead of being available to boaters in need 24/7, the station will only be staffed 9-to-5, five days a week for an undefined period of time.

The station will be fully staffed and prepared for 24/7 coverage over holiday weekends, such as the Fourth of July.

The canal station is one of 19 stations subjected to scheduling changes across the country, as the Coast Guard experiences one of the largest workforce shortages in its 233-year history.

It was not immediately clear why the Sandwich station was selected, but public affairs specialist Diolanda Caballero said the decision was supported by data and abundant support from other stations across the region.

“We have plenty of partners in the area that are able to keep up with the demand, especially on the weekends,” Caballero said. “And not only that, Air Station Cape Cod is in very close proximity.”

Other Coast Guard stations in Woods Hole and Provincetown, as well as the Sandwich Fire Department and state Environmental police will help keep up with the demand, she said.

Sandwich Fire Chief John Burke said it was not cause for panic, but did require him to begin considering how to best spread the department’s resources. So far, officials said there have been no major problems, but the summer season is still young.

Worries remain for boaters, and Caballero said she understands.

“[These are] really hard decisions,” she said. “And I know a lot of us do want that regular station schedule, but it's just something out of our control right now because of the personnel shortages.”

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.