A History of Coast Guard Aviation
Coming of Age (1957-1975)
In the year 1956, the Coast Guard operated 127 aircraft consisting of 14 models. Of this total 50
were of WWII vintage. In addition there were only 28 helicopters in the entire inventory. The House
Appropriations Committee of the United States Congress had previously recommended that a
program be developed for the regular annual replacement of Coast Guard aircraft. This program was
abandoned in the revised fiscal 1954 budget by the Executive Branch on the grounds that it was to
be restudied. Report number 1743, which accompanied the fiscal 1957 appropriations bill for the
Coast Guard, directed the Secretary of the Treasury and the Commandant to cause a complete
evaluation of all Coast Guard activities, the conduct of which require the use of aircraft, and to
present at least preliminary conclusions by December 31,1956 The recommendations were to include
the kinds of activities requiring aircraft, types of aircraft required, and numbers of aircraft required. In addition it was directed that a program for financing the procurement and replacement be part of the plan. On 26 February 1957, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Commandant submitted the
Joint Report requested by Congress. The Joint Report constituted a “Five Year Plan” for Coast Guard
Aviation. In the letter of transmittal to the committee the Secretary of the Treasury stressed that
since the plan was intended to meet both present and future needs of Coast Guard Aviation it would
be essential to subject the plan to a continuing re-examination.
The Report recommended three general types of aircraft for procurement; namely, long range,
medium range, and short range and applied the concept of “fewest models.” The report further
detailed specific aircraft by model, aircraft deployment, facility requirements, aviation personnel
requirements, and the costs involved over the five year fiscal period. The Joint Report recommended
a fleet of 195 aircraft of which 99 were to be helicopters. The greatly increased number of helicopters reflected a major shift in the thinking within Coast Guard aviation.
Because of budgetary limitations, the Joint Report was revised in 1958 and twice in 1959. By January
of 1960 the funding obtained was only 42% of what was required. Because of the extent of the
required residual funding the Commandant convened a Special Board for the re-evaluation of Coast
Guard Aviation requirements. Included in his instructions was a direction to the Board to develop a
realistic financial plan. The Board consisted of nine senior officers assigned to duty at Coast Guard
Headquarters. Five of these Officers were aviation officers in current flight status while the remaining four members were non-aviators. The Joint report, reinforced by a Coast Guard Roles and Mission study conducted in 1961 had a far reaching positive impact on the Coast Guard which extended
beyond the aviation community.
There were those who felt that budgeting a fixed sum for aircraft procurement would deprive the
service’s ships and shore stations of much needed funds. The opposite occurred. The benefit of the
Requirements of Coast Guard Aviation Report went far beyond the procurement of much needed
aircraft. The Report was a catalyst for a change in thinking on how the Coast Guard approached its
missions. Prior to this time the Coast Guard was tactical and reactive in nature. There was no long
range planning of any substantial consequence. This was about to change. The requirements to
implement the Aviation Plan were projected out in five year segments and in some cases beyond.
Additionally the status of Coast Guard Aviation was in constant review and the Plan continuously
updated to accommodate future requirements. The concept became Coast Guard wide with the
completion of a committee report on the missions and conditions of the cutter fleet and stations. The
first of 79 Point Class 82 footers was launched in 1960 and the contract for the first of a planned 210 foot cutter with a helicopter deck was let in 1961. This type of planning would continue for surface requirements as additional cutters and patrol boats were designed and built. The concept continued to develop and grow, with intermittent setbacks, and is the basis for the current Deepwater planning.
In 1963 the first of the HH-52 helicopters, a joint project with Sikorsky Aircraft, came on board. The HH-52, with over 15,000 lives saved in its twenty-five years of service, has the honor of having
rescued more persons than any other helicopter in the world. It became the international icon for
rescue and proved the worth of the helicopter many times over. Aircraft continued to be added to
the inventory. Existing Air Stations were upgraded, new Air Stations were added, and consolidation
took place where warranted -- all in a systematic sequence of events to facilitate and accommodate
the expanding role of Coast Guard Aviation.
Other changes were taking place. The Coast Guard had established a Flight Safety billet at
Headquarters and began sending experienced aviators to the University of Southern California flight
safety course, the object being to furnish each aviation unit with a trained flight safety officer. In 1962 a Board was convened to develop an HU-16 Standardization Manual. This was the first Coast
Guard wide Standardization Manual. The Board made an additional recommendation that had a
profound effect on the genuine professionalism in the ensuing years. They recommended a training
command and thus the seed was planted. The C-130s marked the beginnings of standardized
training. The Coast Guard invested much time, effort and money into the development of an HH-52A
Pilots Handbook and an HH-52 on site standardized checkout program had been developed to bring
the new helicopter on board. The program proved successful and as a result Headquarters
established a Basic Operating Training Unit at Air Station Savannah. With new aircraft coming on the
line the requirements outgrew the facility and a greatly expanded training unit was moved to Mobile,
Alabama and the Aviation Training Center was established. The Training Center expanded to meet
Coast Guard needs. Advantage was taken of new concepts and technology and highly sophisticated
simulators were acquired and utilized. Simulator training for helicopter pilots became the norm and in 1973 the Coast Guard became the first service to authorize instrument ratings based strictly on
The United States had become involved in the Vietnam conflict and as 1965 began the advisory
capacity had given way to full combat operations. The Navy requested assistance in off-shore
surveillance patrols to interdict vessels supplying Viet Cong forces. Seventeen 82 footers were sent
and conducted what was known as Operation Market Time. Coast Guard presence continued to grow
and in 1967 a pilot exchange program between the Air Force and Coast Guard was initiated. Coast
Guard aviators, primarily helicopter pilots, served with Combat Rescue Units in Vietnam.
The Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Transportation in 1967 after having spent 52
years in the Treasury Department. This would bring challenges in the years ahead.
The Coast Guard was given full responsibility for ice breaking operations and all Navy Icebreakers
were transferred to the Coast Guard in 1967 with the stipulation that the helicopter pilots deployed
on the ships would be Coast Guard Aviators. This resulted in the creation of the Ice Breaker Support
Section being established at ATC Mobile to provide the necessary training and support.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon sent Reorganization Plan 2 to Congress to address the growing drug
menace. A single federal agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), was created to consolidate
and coordinate the government’s drug control activities. It was designed to integrate the activities of the narcotics agents and U.S. Customs agents. It soon became apparent that drugs were coming into
the country by aircraft but the majority was smuggled by ship. Even though transferred to the
Department of Transportation the Coast Guard still retained the responsibility for maritime law
enforcement. In addition, the Coast Guard had ships to interdict the flow of drugs -- the other
agencies did not. As a result, the Coast Guard soon saw a growing involvement in drug interdiction
which soon resulted in increased deployment of helicopters on board the cutters. Over the years the
role of Coast Guard Aviation in drug interdiction would continue to grow.
The primary responsibility of Coast Guard Aviation during this period remained Search and Rescue
(SAR). With the advent of the HH-52A helicopter and additional air units the SAR statistics increased dramatically. During the ten year period 1965 -1975 the number of cases increased by 62% and the number of lives saved by 54%. Although the statistics are not broken down into aviation and surface categories the impact of the new helicopters and air units was evident. A complete narrative of SAR incidents is outside the parameters of this section, however, there are award citations, Air Medal and above, awarded to Coast Guard Aviators that can be viewed in “The Roll of Valor” on this web site. Their exploits are truly amazing!
The Report recommended three general types of aircraft for procurement; namely, long range, medium range, and short range and applied the concept of “fewest models.” The report further detailed specific aircraft by model, aircraft deployment, facility requirements, aviation personnel requirements, and the costs involved over the five year fiscal period. The Joint Report recommended a fleet of 195 aircraft of which 99 were to be helicopters. The greatly increased number of helicopters reflected a major shift in the thinking within Coast Guard aviation.
Because of budgetary limitations, the Joint Report was revised in 1958 and twice in 1959. By January of 1960 the funding obtained was only 42% of what was required. Because of the extent of the required residual funding the Commandant convened a Special Board for the re-evaluation of Coast Guard Aviation requirements. Included in his instructions was a direction to the Board to develop a realistic financial plan. The Board consisted of nine senior officers assigned to duty at Coast Guard Headquarters. Five of these Officers were aviation officers in current flight status while the remaining four members were non-aviators. The Joint report, reinforced by a Coast Guard Roles and Mission study conducted in 1961 had a far reaching positive impact on the Coast Guard which extended beyond the aviation community.
There were those who felt that budgeting a fixed sum for aircraft procurement would deprive the service’s ships and shore stations of much needed funds. The opposite occurred. The benefit of the Requirements of Coast Guard Aviation Report went far beyond the procurement of much needed aircraft. The Report was a catalyst for a change in thinking on how the Coast Guard approached its missions. Prior to this time the Coast Guard was tactical and reactive in nature. There was no long range planning of any substantial consequence. This was about to change. The requirements to implement the Aviation Plan were projected out in five year segments and in some cases beyond. Additionally the status of Coast Guard Aviation was in constant review and the Plan continuously updated to accommodate future requirements. The concept became Coast Guard wide with the completion of a committee report on the missions and conditions of the cutter fleet and stations. The first of 79 Point Class 82 footers was launched in 1960 and the contract for the first of a planned 210 foot cutter with a helicopter deck was let in 1961. This type of planning would continue for surface requirements as additional cutters and patrol boats were designed and built. The concept continued to develop and grow, with intermittent setbacks, and is the basis for the current Deepwater planning.
In 1963 the first of the HH-52 helicopters, a joint project with Sikorsky Aircraft, came on board. The HH-52, with over 15,000 lives saved in its twenty-five years of service, has the honor of having rescued more persons than any other helicopter in the world. It became the international icon for rescue and proved the worth of the helicopter many times over. Aircraft continued to be added to the inventory. Existing Air Stations were upgraded, new Air Stations were added, and consolidation took place where warranted -- all in a systematic sequence of events to facilitate and accommodate the expanding role of Coast Guard Aviation.
Other changes were taking place. The Coast Guard had established a Flight Safety billet at Headquarters and began sending experienced aviators to the University of Southern California flight safety course, the object being to furnish each aviation unit with a trained flight safety officer. In 1962 a Board was convened to develop an HU-16 Standardization Manual. This was the first Coast Guard wide Standardization Manual. The Board made an additional recommendation that had a profound effect on the genuine professionalism in the ensuing years. They recommended a training command and thus the seed was planted. The C-130s marked the beginnings of standardized training. The Coast Guard invested much time, effort and money into the development of an HH-52A Pilots Handbook and an HH-52 on site standardized checkout program had been developed to bring the new helicopter on board. The program proved successful and as a result Headquarters established a Basic Operating Training Unit at Air Station Savannah. With new aircraft coming on the line the requirements outgrew the facility and a greatly expanded training unit was moved to Mobile, Alabama and the Aviation Training Center was established. The Training Center expanded to meet Coast Guard needs. Advantage was taken of new concepts and technology and highly sophisticated simulators were acquired and utilized. Simulator training for helicopter pilots became the norm and in 1973 the Coast Guard became the first service to authorize instrument ratings based strictly on simulator flight.
The United States had become involved in the Vietnam conflict and as 1965 began the advisory capacity had given way to full combat operations. The Navy requested assistance in off-shore surveillance patrols to interdict vessels supplying Viet Cong forces. Seventeen 82 footers were sent and conducted what was known as Operation Market Time. Coast Guard presence continued to grow and in 1967 a pilot exchange program between the Air Force and Coast Guard was initiated. Coast Guard aviators, primarily helicopter pilots, served with Combat Rescue Units in Vietnam.
The Coast Guard was transferred to the Department of Transportation in 1967 after having spent 52 years in the Treasury Department. This would bring challenges in the years ahead.
The Coast Guard was given full responsibility for ice breaking operations and all Navy Icebreakers were transferred to the Coast Guard in 1967 with the stipulation that the helicopter pilots deployed on the ships would be Coast Guard Aviators. This resulted in the creation of the Ice Breaker Support Section being established at ATC Mobile to provide the necessary training and support.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon sent Reorganization Plan 2 to Congress to address the growing drug menace. A single federal agency, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), was created to consolidate and coordinate the government’s drug control activities. It was designed to integrate the activities of the narcotics agents and U.S. Customs agents. It soon became apparent that drugs were coming into the country by aircraft but the majority was smuggled by ship. Even though transferred to the Department of Transportation the Coast Guard still retained the responsibility for maritime law enforcement. In addition, the Coast Guard had ships to interdict the flow of drugs -- the other agencies did not. As a result, the Coast Guard soon saw a growing involvement in drug interdiction which soon resulted in increased deployment of helicopters on board the cutters. Over the years the role of Coast Guard Aviation in drug interdiction would continue to grow.
The primary responsibility of Coast Guard Aviation during this period remained Search and Rescue (SAR). With the advent of the HH-52A helicopter and additional air units the SAR statistics increased dramatically. During the ten year period 1965 -1975 the number of cases increased by 62% and the number of lives saved by 54%. Although the statistics are not broken down into aviation and surface categories the impact of the new helicopters and air units was evident. A complete narrative of SAR incidents is outside the parameters of this section, however, there are award citations, Air Medal and above, awarded to Coast Guard Aviators that can be viewed in “The Roll of Valor” on this web site. Their exploits are truly amazing!
1957 -- The Joint Report on The Requirements of the Coast Guard:
At the request of Congress the Joint Report on the Requirements of the Coast Guard was submitted to congress and implemented a year later. This document defined Coast Guard aviation’s primary role as search and rescue, specified the types of aircraft needed for that purpose, and indicated the number of each type that should be acquired during each of the next six years.
Report number 1743, which accompanied H.R. 9064 stated in part;
The Joint report of 1957 recommended a fleet of 195 aircraft be attained by the end of FY 1963 to consist of 6 models. The 195 aircraft were to consist of 10 SC-130B long range landplanes, 11 P5M long range seaplanes, 69 UF medium range amphibians, 79 HUS medium range helicopters, 20 HUL light helicopters, and 2 RM special service aircraft.
In the period 1957 through 1960 the following aircraft were obtained:
9 R5Ds to replace overage P4Ys and PB1Gs pending replacement by C-130 aircraft.
Due to budgetary limitations procurement had fallen considerably behind planned acquisition and in 1960 a re-evaluation was directed.
The re-evaluation board was to re-evaluate the concepts and basic findings of the original 1957 requirement report to:
1. Determine the Coast Guard Duties or activities in which the use of aircraft is required.
Number 2 and 3 coupled with the 1960 Roles and Mission study led to the implementation of the Aviation Master plan. Number 4, to a large degree, insured funds for procurement. There were some in the Coast Guard that felt that budgeting a fixed sum for aircraft procurement deprived the service’s ships and shore installations of funds needed for upgrade and replacement. This would prove to not be the case.
There was a reduction in recommended fixed wing aircraft and a sizeable increase in the number of helicopters. Over half of the number of operational aircraft required were helicopters. The thinking in Coast Guard aviation had changed. Numerous additional helicopter Air Detachments were proposed.
The movement of some of the major air stations and changes in operational requirements modified the Air Detachment requirements to some extent but the basic premise remained intact.
1958-- C-123B aircraft obtained (8 over a period of 3 years)
The C-123 was initially designed as the YG-18 glider by the Chase Aircraft Corporation. It was all metal and the first of the series took to the air in 1947. It had an upswept rear fuselage modified with a hydraulically operated loading ramp. This shape remains the characteristic of most modern transports to this day. During the evaluation period Air Force interest shifted toward powered assault aircraft. Convinced that the YG-18A airframe was of sufficient strength to accommodate power plants Chase installed two Pratt& Whitney R2000 engines and the aircraft flew in powered form in 1948 and redesignated as YC-122. The power plants were changed to R-2800, design features added, and the aircraft entered the Air Force Inventory as the C-123.
Henry Kaiser acquired control of Chase aircraft and the C-123 was produced at the Willow Run, Michigan manufacturing facility as the C-119 was being phased out. In June 1953 all USAF contracts with the Kaiser organization were canceled and a request for competitive bids for the C-123 was forwarded to several major aircraft manufacturers. In October of 1953 the Fairchild Aircraft Company was awarded the contract to begin a series production of 293 C-123B aircraft.
Pre-Vietnam service saw the C-123B utilized as a troop carrier, medivac transport, and support missions from short, minimally-prepared landing strips. Operational enhancements continued and the aircraft was used extensively during the Vietnam conflict for a multitude of missions. The last modification designation was C-123-K. Two small pylon mounted J-85 engines were fitted under the wings augmenting the take off thrust by 2,850 pounds. The Coast Guard acquired the first of eight C-123B's from the USAF in June of 1958 for use as logistical transports in support of the expansion and installation of the LORAN C network and other isolated installations. These instillations were situated around the globe, many of whichwere situated in remote locations. The aircraft operated from Coast Guard Air Stations located at Miami, Florida; Puerto Rico; Barbers Point, Hawaii; Guam; Kodiak, Alaska; and Naples, Italy. They were distinguished from other C-123s by the Coast Guard color scheme and the large nose-mounted APN-158 radar. As a secondary mission they were also utilized for search and rescue. The last of the aircraft were retired from Coast Guard service in 1972.
1958 -- Air Detachment Naples, Italy was established.
Airborne site surveys that resulted in the construction of additional Loran C stations in the northern arc of Europe on the Germany’s Fresian Islands, Jan Mayen Island in the Norwegian Artic, Sandur Island and Estartit, Spain were also conducted. These stations were in support of the Defense Department navigation requirements also. As the chains were completed the Air Detachment, now referred to as an Air Station, continued logistic service.
The operational control of the Mediterranean, Norwegian and North Atlantic Chains were combined in 1966 into activities Europe and the Naples Air Station became an Activities Europe unit. In 1972 the Air Station was closed and the Loran Stations received support from other military units and civilian sources. The Coast Guard withdrew its personnel from the Loran Stations in the 1993-1995 time frame.
1959-- HUS-1G helicopters obtained.
The H-34 started as a private Sikorsky Aircraft development, which the military ignored. However, it soon became a true workhorse in service with all branches of the U.S. armed forces, in addition to a host of foreign nations, and a variety of civil operators. The H-34 was also the final evolution of large piston-engine helicopters before the rise of turbine powered designs.
Early Sikorsky designs placed the large reciprocating engine behind the cabin. This had the effect of restricting the center-of-gravity of the helicopter to a very narrow range. Igor Sikorsky and his design team discovered that if they moved the engine to the front of the cabin, closer to the axis of the main rotor, the center-of-gravity envelope became much larger. This configuration required the relocation of the cockpit to a position on top of the engine. Sikorsky engineers inclined the engine at a 45-degree angle so that the drive shaft would not run through the main cabin, though this created a partition between the cockpit and main cabin. However, the addition of clamshell doors to the nose of the aircraft made maintenance access to the engine far simpler than it had ever been before.
A nine-cylinder air-cooled Wright R-1820-84 reciprocating engine powered the single-rotor H-34. The massive engine required an elaborate blower system to keep it cool. Shafts and gearboxes situated along the spine of the fuselage and a substantial tail pylon drove the tail rotor. The fuselage was all metal, principally magnesium alloy, for weight savings.
The SH-34s (HUS-1) were used predominantly for anti-submarine warfare operations and were equipped with dipping sonar to locate the enemy and/or torpedoes to home in on and destroy a submarine. They were fitted with automatic stabilization equipment.
The U. S. Coast Guard acquired six HUS-1Gs (H-34s) from Sikorsky in 1959 as a replacement for the HO4S-1G. The HUS-1G had a greater range, due in part to droppable fuel tanks, and a greater payload than the HO4S-1G. It was fully equipped for instrument flight, had upgraded electronics, a 600 pound capacity hoist and automatic stabilization equipment.
Three of the HUS-1Gs purchased were lost in accidents and the remaining three were transferred to Air America. The Coast Guard elected not to continue the purchase of the HUS-1G and instead participated with Sikorsky in the development of the Model S-62 for SAR use. The S-62 became the storied HH-52A amphibious helicopter.
1959 - The feasibility of destroying icebergs by means of thermal bombing was evaluated.
The Coast Guard has conducted numerous experiments in attempts to determine means for accelerating the disintegration of icebergs. These have included gunfire, mines, torpedoes, depth charges, and bombing. However, the use of conventional explosives or combustibles proves difficult. In addition to the operational hazards of approaching and boarding an iceberg in a seaway; the theory of explosive demolition shows that a 1,000 lb charge of TNT would be needed to break up approximately 70,000 cubic ft of ice (1,960 tons) and a hundred such charges would be needed for the destruction of an average berg. Furthermore, to melt a medium size berg of 100,000 tons would require the complete theoretical heat of combustion of 2.4 million gallons of gasoline. Such methods are, of course, economically, as well as practically unsound.
In 1959 and 1960, the Ice Patrol conducted a series of tests using the combustion of thermite. Early experiments by other scientists indicated that thermite, which explodes in ice with an extremely high temperature, would have a thermal "shock" or fracturing effect on icebergs. Ice Patrol experiments demonstrated that, under operational conditions, such was not the case. Natural deterioration remains the most practical process for the elimination of icebergs. Other than through these natural processes, the icebergs prove nearly indestructible. In summary, the following factors affect the longevity of an iceberg and/or the extent of its drift:
* sea ice protection.
1959 - LORAN C chains established.
Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Bell Laboratories, with the support of the War and Navy Departments made theory a reliable reality. The Coast Guards involvement began in 1942 when Admiral Waesche, Commandant of the Coast Guard, was asked to recommend an officer to direct the program. Lieutenant Commander Lawrence M. Harding was given the task and brought rapid progress to the project. By mid 1943 the system was operational in the North Atlantic. The success in the North Atlantic led to rapid expansion elsewhere. The Coast Guard had been involved with the development from the start so when the time came to provide trained personnel the Coast Guard found itself in the Loran business. This would continue to be a Coast Guard Responsibility after the war.
The Pacific war showed the need for a Loran-like system that could be operated over much greater distances than Loran A could provide.( 600-700 nm daylight operation). The potential solution was to use lower frequencies so an experimental set of stations were set up. The main result of these tests was to show that pulse envelope matching, as used in Loran A, was too inaccurate with the long pulses at the low frequencies required and that a phase comparison system would be required. With the end of the war these experiments were not followed up on.
By the early 1950s, the Department of Defense required a highly accurate long range radionavigation capability. The Sperry Company had proposed a navigation system which would use phase comparison and operated on two frequencies. This was later reduced to one frequency and the Air Force tried to adapt it for tactical needs but had given up on it. The system was known as Cytac. Capt Peter V. Colmar USCG saw the value in the system as a long range precision navigation system. He convinced the Navy to fund a test using the CG Cutter Androscoggin which showed it would work. A test chain was set up on the East Coast and the Navy Survey Ships USNS Bowditch and USNS Dutton conducted a controlled survey test out as far as Bermuda. This convinced Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, father of the nuclear submarine, to go operational with it. He fought for money, got it, and Capt Loren “Zeke” Brunner USCG drove the effort and the system would become known as Loran C. The Coast Guard was up and operational in a year and a half during which time Sperry designed and built the equipment. Lcdr. Al Manning, who had been assigned to oversee equipment design, inspection and delivery flew out with the final pieces of equipment on December 28,1958. The Mediterranean Loran C Chain was up and operational nine months later. The Norwegian Sea Chain was commenced in late March of 1960. Loran C operates in the 90khz - 110khz band. Under Coast Guard operation provided a repeatable accuracy of 18 - 90 meters with a 99.7% availability factor.
The LORAN C chains continued to be built to provide navigational coverage in those parts of the world where a third world war was likely to occur. Coast Guard Aviation was providing logistic support to the LORAN A Stations. This was continued and expanded to also provide air logistics to LORAN C stations. Eight C-123 cargo aircraft were obtained from the Department of Defense by the Coast Guard to provide for the increase in operations.
LORAN came into widespread civilian us as the initially expensive receivers came into commercial production and the cost went down. LORAN C offered much greater accuracy than LORAN A and the A system would come to be phased out. Due in large part to the continued widespread civilian use, LORAN C survived the initial Doppler navigation satellites and on into the current era of the Global Positioning System usually called GPS.
What is the status of LORAN C today? -- The main concern today is that it has become known that GPS signals are not difficult to jam. LORAN C signals on the other hand goes through everything. Therefore LORAN C will not be phased out for the foreseeable future. Interest is now being shown in an integrated GPS + LORAN C receiver thus providing back up and additional navigation capabilities. Cost is another concern as navigation capabilities and facilities continue to be increasingly provided by the civilian world. For the cost of one launch of a satellite you can build a couple of LORAN C stations and run them for as long as a satellite would last. You would need 20-30 satellites to establish a complete navigation system. --- LORAN C will be with us for awhile.
1959 - First of a number of C-130 aircraft obtained.
As the C-130 proved successful with the Air Force, other branches of the services began taking a look at the new transport. The United States Coast Guard's mission of long-range search and rescue and coastal patrols dictated the need for a new airplane and the C-130 HERCULES filled the need. In 1958 the Coast Guard ordered four airplanes, the first of a dozen the service would receive by 1963. Since Lockheed had improved the original C-130 design, the first airplanes delivered to the Coast Guard were C-130B's.
The HERCULES proved ideal for the Coast Guard mission. The airplane's long range allowed long loiter times while on patrol, a feature that was enhanced by the practice of shutting down the outboard engines to conserve fuel. This capability had been demonstrated in the early days of the C-130 program when a Lockheed crew flew an A-model all the way across the United States at low level with two engines feathered.
In 1966 the USCG received another version of the HERCULES, a specially configured EC-130E equipped with calibration equipment for the service's far-flung LORAN stations. In the late sixties and early seventies, the Coast Guard began equipping with the HC-130H, soon after the same version went into service with the USAF.
The first HC-130H flew on 8 December 1964. This updated version was obtained to primarily perform search and rescue missions. These aircraft also performed tasks related to the U.S. space program. They carried additional equipment and two 1,800-gallon fuel bladders in the cargo compartment. They also had a very unusual, and distinctive feature on top of the fuselage, forward of the wing. This large "blister" contained the Cook Electric re-entry tracking system which was used in conjunction with the Gemini spacecraft.
HC-130s can exceed 2,600 nautical miles (4,815km) in low-altitude flight with a mission endurance of up to 14 hours. Inertial Navigation Systems (INS), Omega, Loran-C, Global Positioning System (GPS), and radar and guidance aids that enhance the HC-130's effectiveness during long-range maritime patrols. These aircraft are also equipped with a ten-tube flare launch system. U.S. Coast Guard HC-130s are not capable of refueling other aircraft in flight.
The Lockheed Martin EC-130V AEW&C aircraft was first developed by General Dynamics in 1992 for the United States Coast Guard as a proof-of-concept aircraft. The EC-130V combined a C-130H airframe with the APS-125 Radar and Mission System of the U.S. Navy's E-2C Hawkeye. This aircraft was primarily used for counter-narcotics missions requiring greater endurance than the E-2C could provide, but had also been evaluated for Search and Rescue, Fisheries Patrols, EEZ enforcement and as a support aircraft for NASA Space Shuttle launches.
Externally, the EC-130V differs from a standard Coast Guard C-130 with the fitting of a large rotor-dome housing the APS-125 radar. Internally, the mission system is palletized and rolled into the cargo compartment.
Due to budget cuts, the Coast Guard EC-130V program was terminated and the aircraft was transferred to the USAF as the NC-130H for further development, including upgrading to the latest APS-145 radar.
C-130J aircraft were obtained in 2004 for a logistic support role. They had an enhanced cargo handling system that allowed for rapid conversion from in-floor load tie-downs to rollers for palletized cargo. In 2008 they were upgraded with interoperable mission packages equipping them to function as very effective search and rescue aircraft.
1961 - A Coast Guard Roles and Mission Study was initiated:
John F. Kennedy had just become President of the United States and had appointed C. Douglas Dillon as Treasury Secretary and a fellow torpedo boat officer, James A. Reed as Assistant Secretary with Coast Guard responsibilities. Both the President and Mr. Reed were interested in ships and the sea. The nation had recovered from the economic recession of the late 1950s. Politically, the time was right to address the obsolescence of Coast Guard equipment and facilities.
Secretary Dillon became cognizant of growing Coast Guard responsibilities and the joint concern of the Treasury Department and Bureau of the Budget officials over the growing Coast Guard plant obsolescence and the extensive funds required to modernize equipment and improve its capability to discharge its missions properly. Because of the magnitude of appropriations required it was considered necessary to have a clearer definition of Coast Guard missions, the extent to which they should be carried out, and a delineation of policy and organizational guidelines which up to this time had not been formulated at the departmental level. To accomplish this an interdepartmental study group was formulated, consisting of the Bureau of the Budget, Treasury, Department of Defense, and Coast Guard members.
In essence, the study report firmly supported the then current missions of the Coast Guard with particular emphasis on search and rescue, law enforcement, maritime aides to navigation, merchant marine inspection, and port security. Ten major functions were identified with 80 recommendations. The report acknowledged the need for a more definitive Treasury policy, pointed up certain weaknesses in Coast Guard policy, and emphasized the need for a more modern and capable service. It further recommended that in light of the growing complexity of Coast Guard operations that a single long-range plan be developed.
Secretary Dillon ordered that 76 of the proposed recommendations be implemented. He concluded that "many of the Coast Guard’s multiple functions were transferred to it during national emergencies under the hard logic of expediency; there was nobody else who could do the job right then. With imagination and flexibility, the Coast Guard fitted each new task into its pattern of operation." It is the interdependence and cross-utilization of existing resources that allows the Coast Guard to accomplish the multi-mission responsibilities when no one else can. This is why it is imperative to invest properly in the infrastructure.
Because of this report, a better understanding of Coast Guard problems and requirements took place within the Coast Guard and the Treasury Department. Additionally it produced stronger support for its budget requirements with the Treasury Department, Bureau of the Budget, and Congress.
The Re-Evaluation of the Requirements of Coast Guard Aviation listed Search and Rescue as the primary mission of Coast Guard Aviation but noted that capability should exist to perform other duties as required. A good number of the requirements listed in the evaluation were affirmed in the Roles and Missions Study as was the concept of long-range implementation planning. Thus these two studies were the initial basis and justification of the expanded role of Coast Guard aviation over the decades to come.
1962 - Coast Guard Aviation Development Master Plan initiated:
The Aviation planning process utilized the 1960 Re-Evaluation of the Requirements of Coast Guard Aviation and the Roles and Mission Study of 1961 as the initial basis of the expanded role of Coast Guard aviation over the decades to come. Coast Guard Aviation had evolved into a premier tactical search and rescue organization but like the rest of the Coast Guard was reactive in behavior. This was the first proactive step toward the strategic concepts that would follow Coast Guard wide.
Basically the aviation plan determined the requirements to perform the projected operational missions of Coast Guard aviation and the proposed funding to provide almost concurrently for (1) the continued acquisition of aircraft needed to replace over-age aircraft; (2) the acquisition of additional aircraft to enable the Coast Guard to accomplish the mission into the future: (3) the necessary modification of existing facilities; and (4) the establishment of those facilities required to accommodate the aviation program; (5) the personnel to man them. The initial elements of cost were contained within the “Acquisition, Construction, and Improvement” appropriation but emphasis was placed on the continuance of the program into future budget years to assure a truly modern fleet supported by adequate facilities and personnel.
Aircraft acquired as a result of the initial 1957 “Joint Report on the Requirements of Coast Guard’ had begun coming on board and as of 6-30-60 the number of aircraft on hand was as listed in the following table. The far right column gives the number of aircraft projected at the end 1996 by the “1960 Re-Evaluation of the Requirements of Coast Guard Aviation” study.
The Coast Guard was not satisfied with the performance of the HUS and was looking for a replacement helicopter. The HUS was the last of the pistons and as such the choice was turbine power. The Huey was in serious development problems at the time as was the Kamman H-2. Sikorsky had developed the twin engined H-3 (S61) which was a very good machine but the Coast Guard considered it too expensive to be purchased in the quantities needed. Sikorsky had produced a scaled down version of the H-3 for the commercial market but it was not selling. The Coast Guard was not limited to milspec so an arrangement was made whereby the Coast Guard would conduct an evaluation series at Sikorsky’s expense. The aircraft proved to be exactly what the Coast Guard needed. The helicopter remained in service until 1989 and is credited with rescuing more people than any other helicopter. The Coast Guard would again utilize this method of procurement when it selected it’s jet powered, medium range fixed-wing search aircraft.
The location of additional air detachments, a project assigned to LCDR Dick Penn and LCDR Frank Shelly, was predicated upon the location of existing Air Stations. marine traffic, population centers, the anticipated SAR workload resulting from the explosion in pleasure boating by the public, and the range and performance capabilities of the HH-52 helicopter. A job well done - as of 2006 only one of the initially recommended air detachments has been closed upon reevaluation.
Itemized construction cost estimates were made for (1) Those detachments requiring construction at Civilian Air Fields (2) Those detachments utilizing leased space at civilian fields (3) Those detachments requiring construction at existing Coast Guard units (4) Those detachments utilizing leased space at existing military aviation facilities.
The required funding for a five year period was spread out into roughly equal annual expenses for budget purposes. The plan was reviewed and updated yearly. This would be a continuing process. Criteria for unit location was amended. SAR statistics were utilized but were found to be the heaviest where the SAR facilities were located and the distance from the SAR facility. For future planning, the SAR statistics were correlated with population data, commerce, marine activity, and the income generated by boating activity. This combination, along with the realization that it was much less expensive to be a tenant on an existing facility, was used for site selection. An Air Detachment was established in Los Angeles in 1962 followed by Savannah and Houston in 1963. and Astoria in 1964.
A recommendation made in the Re-Evaluation was that at the end of four years a careful evaluation of the effectiveness of new Air Detachments, new aircraft types, and aircraft deployment be made. Miami was moved from Dinner Key to Opa Locka in 1965 because of the limited operational facilities at Dinner Key. At a later date St. Petersburg was moved to Clearwater for the same reasons. This, in conjunction with the commissioning of an Air Detachment at Savannah, eliminated the need for Air Detachments at Cape Canaveral and Ft. Myers. Guam was decommissioned in 1965 followed by Argentia and Bermuda in 1966. Sangley Point was closed in 1977.
With desired aircraft coming on board, Air Detachment locations were again evaluated using the information obtained from previous installations. Air Detachments were referred to as Air Stations now and Detroit was established in 1966. BOTU had been established at Savannah and was moved to the new Air Station at Mobile as was the fixed wing operation at Biloxi. Chicago opened in 1969. Salem Air Station and the Quonset Air detachment moved to Cape Cod in 1970. San Juan moved to Borinquen in 1971 and North Bend was opened up in 1974.
This process continues today, Changing missions and responsibilities as well as the service life of various aircraft require constant evaluation, planning and responses. The process has been refined and with the advent of Deepwater is more sophisticated. That being said, it is well to remember that these early efforts and the people that made them had a significant impact on Coast Guard aviation and the Coast Guard as a whole.
1962 - UF-2G (HU-16) certified for nine world class records for amphibian aircraft --- Federal Aeronautique International ---
An excerpt taken from Kicking Tires and Lighting Fires by C.W. Swickley and augmented by photographs from the personal collection of CAPT W. C. Dahlgren. USCG
Dahlgren, duly placed in charge of the project, worked closely with Grumman to develop a plan. Since administrative expenses for each attempt ran in the neighborhood of $1,000, and since Grumman was picking up the tab, Dahlgren decided to challenge only nine of the most significant records. The Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force would share in the glory, each setting three records. Accordingly, CGAS Brooklyn was tasked to provide the Albatross and maintenance support for the Coast Guard and Navy attempts while the Air Force indicated it would provide a plane of its own.
The Air Station chose a recently overhauled Albatross, UF-2G 7255, but before making any attempts at records, the engineering department took several measures to better prepare the plane. The 7255's engines were replaced with the lowest oil-burners and an auxiliary oil tank was installed in the cabin. A series of pumps, valves, and connecting lines made it possible to send replenishment oil out into the nacelle tanks. Then to add lightness, mechanics stripped insulation and other nonessentials from the plane. Since the standard fuel gauges lacked the desired accuracy, mechanics installed "boiler tube" glass sight gauges similar to those used in the old Grumman JRF Goose. This made it possible to readily see the last 600 pounds of fuel. A final measure was to install a Doppler navigation system and 7255 was ready to go.
Records for amphibian aircraft established by Coast Guard UF-2G (HU-16E) 7255.
1962 - Cuban Missile crisis-
In October 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union came to the brink of nuclear war over the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba. The United States armed forces were at their highest state of readiness ever and although not known at the time, Soviet field commanders in Cuba were prepared to use battlefield nuclear weapons to defend the island if it was invaded. For 13 tense days, a fragile peace hung by only a thread as the US instituted a naval blockade of Cuba to turn back Soviet ships. The crisis was ended when the Soviet Union agreed in a secret negotiation to remove its nuclear weapons from Cuba in exchange for a US agreement to remove its nuclear weapons from Turkey six months later.
During the next very tense days, all options, including the invasion of Cuba were evaluated. The final decision was to impose a U.S. Naval “quarantine” of Cuba. (The word “blockade” was not used because it would be considered an act of war). President Kennedy said the missiles sites must be removed and he was prepared to use force if necessary.
On Oct. 26, Khrushchev pledge to remove the missiles if the U.S. guaranteed it would not invade Cuba. Kennedy accepted and the immediate crisis ended. Verification was needed however so the President ordered the quarantine line be maintained and low level surveillance flights be continued while details were made for removal of offensive weapons from Cuba. The Coast Guard continued to make patrols.
1962 - First Coast Guard wide aircraft operating Standardization Manual was published. The manual was for the HU-16 Albatross.
The post World War II fiscal retrenchment and the frugality of the Coast Guard resulted in an assortment of previously used aircraft obtained from other services. The operating procedures varied with the aircraft and the Air Station and few of them were in agreement. The accident rate was much lower than might be expected because by today’s standards the aircraft were relatively uncomplicated. The Coast Guard Aviation Plan began the introduction of new aircraft into the service in the early 1960s and for the first time gave direction and continuity to Coast Guard aviation.
During this period, serious doubts were being raised as to the inevitability of aircraft accidents and positive steps toward aircraft accident prevention was initiated. Safety centers were established and a formal course of education for the training of aviation safety officers was developed at the University of Southern California. The Coast Guard established a flight safety billet at headquarters and commenced sending experienced aviators to the USC course. The object was to provide each Air Station with a trained flight safety officer. Commander Marion "Gus" Shrode, USCG, was the Chief, Aviation Safety Branch from 1961-1964. Under his direction, flight safety began to take on meaningful form and commenced its long advance to the present day.
One of the first concerns of the headquarters safety billet was to reduce the pilot factor accidents in the HU-16. There were procedures being utilized both in and not in the Flight Handbook that were not desirable but that publication was under Navy control and with all the high performance combat aircraft being used by the Navy the HU-16 was not high on the priority list for revisions. It was decided to evaluate all of the individual unit standard operating procedures and write a Coast Guard standardization manual for the HU-16. There was a wlde variance in the procedures used at air stations resulting in a formation of a six man board composed of experienced officers representative of all areas of Coast Guard aviation. This board brought forth the HU-16 Standardization Manual and a kneepad checklist as well. The board made an additional recommendation that had a profound effect on standardization, flight safety, and the fostering of general professionalism in the ensuing years. They recommended that a training command be established - thus was planted the seed for the current Aviation Training Center.
The HU-16 Standardization Manual was well received and similar procedures were instituted for other Coast Guard aircraft. When the HH-52 was procured, a standard instruction team was established to transition all units. Standardization procedures were entered into the Flight manual for the HH-52 as written by the Coast Guard. Manuals for the C-130 and the HH-3E were similarly adapted in this fashion. The Aviation Training Center in Mobile Alabama now provides complete training for all operational Coast Guard Aircraft with the exception of the C-130. C-130 training is provided by another Military training facility. The concept spread from the Aviation Training Center leading to the establishment of the Aviation Technical Training Center for the technical training of aircrew and maintenance personnel.
The scope and quality of training afforded at both of these establishments has far exceeded their original concepts, and Coast Guard airmen in all categories can now lay claim to the highest rank of competence and professionalism.
1962 - Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles established.
The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach comprise the largest cargo seaport in the United States and the third largest in the world moving over 7 million containers every year. In Addition to container traffic, the seaport is also the largest Cruise Ship port on the west coast. Additional Homeland Security responsibilities include the over water approach and departure corridors for Los Angeles International Airport, which handle more international flights than any other airport in the country. In 2008, more than 550,000 flights arrived and departed through LAX moving nearly 60 million passengers and 1.8 million tons of cargo.
The Air Station responsibilities also include, Law enforcement, Aids to Navigation, Environmental Response, and Military Operations. In addition, Air station helicopters deploy to Coast Guard Cutters. Of the many missions that Air Station Los Angeles participates in, Public Affairs offers the most unique opportunities. The air station’s proximity to several Hollywood production studios allows for many varying public affairs missions increasing public awareness of the roles the United States Coast Guard fulfills in protecting our shores and citizens. In 2008 alone, assets and personnel from the Coast Guard's smallest Air Station reached nearly 250,000 people through air shows, static displays, flyovers, career days and speaking events. By taking advantage of local media, Coast Guard coverage was provided to the over 16 million greater Los Angeles area residents.
1963 - The first of 99 HH-52A helicopters entered Coast Guard service.
The S-62 however, had features that were desired by the Coast Guard. It floated on an amphibious hull, it had turbine power, had a large main cabin and it was built utilizing proven components. The automatic stabilization system used on the S-62 was a scaled version of the larger S-61 (SH-3). The rotor system came from the S-55 (HO4S), as did most of the drive system which had already proven to be reliable. The assembly was design limited to 730 shaft horsepower. Small jet engines suitable for helicopters were rare and not available in this size. Sikorsky solved the problem by using a 1230 SHP General Electric T-58-GE-8B engine and derating it. With the extra 500 HP worth of air capacity on the front end density altitude was not an operational problem.
The Coast Guard needed a helicopter and Sikorsky needed to sell the S-62. Unlike Department of Defense agencies, the Coast Guard could buy a non milspec aircraft. Sikorsky approached the Coast Guard and offered the S-62. Previous problems with the HUS created hesitancy on the part of the Coast Guard resulting in Sikorsky Aircraft agreeing to test the S-62 for Coast Guard use at the manufacturer's expense.
The Navy test facilities at Patuxent River Maryland were utilized and LCDR Frank Shelly USCG, a graduate of the Navy Test Pilot School, was assigned to the project as test pilot and program coordinator. Shelly worked closely with Sikorsky Aircraft in the initial and test phases of the HH-52. He designed and set up the test program. It consisted of Coast Guard operational requirements, the verification of Sikorsky's performance claims, and anticipated maintenance requirements. During the many hours of flight testing the "by the numbers" autorotation and the "beep to hover" procedures were developed. The "beep to hover" meant the completion of countless night over water missions and the safety of many HH-52 crews. The helicopter performed well and the Coast Guard signed on.
Originally designated the HU2S-1G it became the HH-52A. It had a rotor diameter of 53 feet, a range of 474 miles and a top speed of 109 mph. It was an extremely flexible rescue aircraft that could fully perform missions with a minimum crew. It was well suited for night and all-weather flight. The HH-52 had a hydraulic hoist and carried a rescue basket. The cabin could accommodate up to ten passengers or six litters. It was fully amphibious and was equipped with a removable foldout rescue platform that looked like a large extended step. It was a rectangular grid that sloped slightly downward beneath the waters surface when the helicopter was afloat. Incapacitated survivors could be scooped or dragged onto it greatly facilitating their rescue.
On January 9, 1963 the U.S. Coast Guard received the first of 99 Sikorsky S-62's which were given the designation HH-52A and the name "Seaguard", a name which never caught on amongst those who flew it. The HH-52 was the Coast Guard's first amphibious, turbine-powered helicopter.
The HH-52, with over 15,000 lives saved in its twenty-five years of service, has the honor of having rescued more persons than any other helicopter in the world. This little helicopter, a unique assemblage of proven parts, comfortably behind the cutting edge, performed astounding feats in thousands upon thousands occasions. It became the international icon for rescue and proved the worth of the helicopter many times over. It had an enormous impact on Coast Guard aviation.
1963 - The VC-4A executive transport was purchased.
The system proved very successful and was used by NASA for its fleet of G-159 aircraft. Part support was provided by Grumman Aircraft Corporation.
The Coast Guard ordered a second VC-4A but cancelled the order before delivery. In September 1983 the VC-4A was transferred to Air Station Elizabeth City and then to Miami where it was used as a logistics and Long Range Command and Control aircraft for the Seventh Coast Guard District. On 19 September 2001 the Coast Guard procured a “previously owned” VC-4, Gulfstream I aircraft, from NASA, for replacement of the originally procured Gulfstream I.
1963 -- Air Station Savannah established.
Siler Hall and the new operations center were completed in 1996, providing the Air Station and local commands, with a state of the art training venue. This, combined with various leading initiatives such as the infrared imaging system, will ensure that Air Station Savannah remains at the forefront of Coast Guard Aviation.
In 2000, Air Station Savannah became the first fully operational unit to operate unrestricted with Night Vision Goggles. In 2004, Air Station Savannah pioneered the Rotary Wing Air Intercept (RWAI) program to assist the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Air Force with the air defense of the G-8 summit. The RWAI program continued to expand and Savannah crews participate in the National Capital Region Air Intercept mission, National Special Security Events and for all NASA Space Shuttle launches. The unit also provides airborne security for U.S. Navy Submarines transiting to and from Kings Bay, Georgia.
Most recently, Air Station Savannah received five MH-65C helicopters which replaced the HH-65C. The MH-65C has an updated communications package and allows for future capability of a Heads Up Display and a mounted M-240 automatic weapon.
Since 1963, Air Station Savannah has provided Search and Rescue coverage 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for the Atlantic coast from the northern border of South Carolina south to Melbourne, Florida. Savannah brings an outstanding level of professionalism and maritime leadership to the war on terrorism and homeland security that as it has done in the conduct of legacy missions. Air Station Savannah was awarded the coveted ATC Mobile H-65 Aviation Standardization Excellence Award, representing the top HH_65 unit out of the Coast Guard's 16 HH-65 Air Stations, in 2004 and again in 2007.
HH-65 on the ramp - Air Station Savannah
1963 - Coast Guard Air Station Houston is established.
1964 - Coast Guard Air Station Astoria Oregon Established
CGAS Astoria HH-60J "Jayhawk" - working aids to navigation.
1964 - The first of the 210 foot Coast Guard Cutters were launched.
The outward appearance of these new cutters reflected the evolving nature of Coast Guard operations during the latter part of the 20th Century. They had sleek lines with the most prominent feature being their flight decks. They were originally fitted with transom exhaust ports that provided more room for a larger flight deck and kept the flight deck clear of exhaust smoke. In practice, however, the exhaust system proved problematic. Their high pilot house gave the bridge crew unrestricted all-around visibility, making ship-handling easier. A number of other concerns figured into the design phase including maximum serviceability, improved habitability, long service life, and safety. Two shafts capped by controllable pitch propellers drive these cutters to a top speed of 18 knots. The Cutters have a propulsion plant consisting of two Cooper-Bessemer Corporation FVBM-12 turbocharged diesel engines. The propulsion system can be remotely controlled from the pilothouse, either bridge wing, or the engine room control booth.
The construction of the 210 foot cutters to provide for helicopter operations was not without strong opposition on the part of some. With many it was an aversion to change but there were legitimate unknowns and problems to overcome. While the model of the vessel was given a thorough evaluation at the Taylor Model Test Basin in Washington D.C., only the characteristics as far as sea handling could be obtained. ENE was emphatic that they had no idea how the vessel would handle or reset with an 8500 pound helicopter on the flight deck. In addition, Sikorsky stated that under static conditions the HH52A helicopter, at normal gross weight conditions, would probably roll over after being tilted past 15 degrees.
There were three vessels under construction at Houston's Todd Shipyard; The Reliance being first with the Diligence and the Vigilant not far behind. The helicopter-shipboard operations evaluation was conducted on the Reliance. Headquarters Office of Aviation (OAU), strongly in favor of the helicopter-ship concept, realized that should this vessel not be capable of operating safely with the HH-52A helicopter that the remaining WMEC cutters would be built without the flight deck. With this in mind the Commandant, at the behest of the Chief OAU, directed that a well qualified aviator experienced in open sea shipboard helicopter operations be assigned to assist the Commanding Officer of the CGC Reliance in developing a capability for helicopter operations. LCDR John C. Redfield was selected for the assignment.
On May 15, 1964 LCDR Redfield met with CDR Frank Fisher, the prospective Commanding Officer of the Reliance, to discus the up-coming tests and evaluation. In addition, Redfield obtained permission from Petroleum Helicopters to use their support facilities at the Galveston, Texas support facility. He further obtained the services of Lt. William Russell to assist in the program. Russell, with the assistance of the Houston Air Station trained the Reliance crew in proper procedures and fire-fighting techniques. The sea trials were delayed until 7 July because of vessel machinery and yard problems. The vessel had a further commitment to be in the Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore, Maryland in early October. This resulted in the sea trials and helicopter operations being conducted simultaneously. LT. Russell was able to provide the crew with some preliminary training while the vessel was still in the shipyard. This was extremely important since the crew, almost to a man, from the officers on down, were new to ship-helicopter operations.
Preliminary evaluation of the helicopter on a metal deck aboard a Navy LST and previous experience aboard the Coast Guard ice-breakers indicated the surface of the Reliance would have to be painted with abrasive paint and in addition some form of "chock" would have to be provided to assist in stabilizing the helicopter until the tie down equipment could be attached. The static stability of the helicopter on the helicopter deck required high tie down points affixed to the aircraft above the wheel shock-absorber housing. Extensions were fabricated to enable a person on the helicopter platform to "tie-down" and secure the helicopter. A wooden grid similar to those used by Petroleum helicopters was designed to fit the Reliance's flight deck and constructed by Coast Guard Base Galveston.
With the permission of CDR Fisher, on 6 July the HH-52A 1356 landed on board the Reliance while still tied at the dock. The aircraft was left on the deck in proper position in order to mark and paint the deck. On the morning of 7 July the Reliance was underway and aircraft operations commenced when five miles off Galveston Beach. They continued intermittently for three days while the vessel underwent sea trials. Numerous landings were made by LCDR Redfield, LT Russell and Sikorsky pilot Mr. Bob Keim. On 10 July the Reliance moved off the Louisiana coast to conduct landings with a selected group of pilots from CGAS New Orleans to get their reaction to the rough draft of an operations bill for helicopter recovery. A total of 170 landings, 20 at night had been made. It was apparent that the Reliance was a fine new concept for CG operations but it had yet to be tested in rough weather operations.
Early in October, after the Reliance had completed work at the Coast Guard Yard arrangements were made for rough weather tests when the ship arrived at Corpus Christi. CDR Frank Shelly, who had done the development and acceptance, flights for the HH-52 joined the group. On 19 November, with a good sea running and a brisk wind, the Reliance moved off shore. Five aviators flew the helicopter over a two day period on different wind and sea combinations. All landings were successful and LCDR Redfield stated that it was apparent that the Reliance had the desired characteristics for helicopter operations and was capable of working under sea conditions that were before impossible with the wind class Icebreakers. As a direct result of these test and evaluations the remaining WMEC 210's and follow on cutters were designed for ship/helicopter operations. The larger cutters were equipped with hangars.
The full utilization of the ship/helicopter was slow to develop. The 210s had a crew of 70 and helicopter operations were labor intensive and the operations, at that time, did not enjoy the full support of most of the CO's. The Air Stations were also reluctant to advocate full usage as a deployment of a helicopter would leave the duty sections short handed. No additional personnel were assigned to compensate for this. Training was conducted but operational commitments were controlled by the District Commander and utilization was in direct proportion to his view point. The HQ floating Units Section and the HQ Office of Aviation Units did not aggressively pursue the concept because they never envisioned at the time all of the uses for the ship/helicopter team. Drug enforcement was not a major factor in 1964 and there were not yet boat loads of people coming from Cuba. The Commander First Coast Guard District was the first to direct all ships capable of carrying a helicopter to do so when conducting fishery patrol and enforcement. The Coast Guards role in the Drug War started in 1976 and the Mariel Boat Lift in 1980. The helicopter/ship combination became indispensable to effectively carry out the mission. Today the concept is fully implanted in Coast Guard operations.
Each cutter underwent a "Major Maintenance Availability” process, or MMA, between 1986 and 1996 at a cost of between 19 and 21 million dollars per cutter. Every cutter received the following modifications and upgrades: improved habitability, improved stability by rearranging tank locations, replacement of all asbestos paneling, increased the berthing space, upgraded the flight deck and helicopter equipment, increased the amount of helicopter fuel carried, improved the evaporator, increased and upgraded the communications and electronics capacities, installed vertical exhaust stacks and associated ballast, and installed a smoke detection system and new fire-fighting equipment.
In the course of Coast Guard history there are numerous things that have been done well that directly affect and improve upon Coast Guard operations. Some of these accomplishments acquire a much greater significance than imagined at the time they were accomplished. Such was the case with LCDR John Redfield. In addition to being a people person who was extremely competent he had the capability to innovate and solve unforeseen problems effectively. The successful evaluation and implementation of the ship/helicopter concept was due largely to his efforts. Without his success the remaining cutters in the immediate building program and those that followed would have been built without helicopter capabilities. Without this capability the Coast Guard would have been significantly handicapped with restricted operational capabilities in the years to come.
1965 - Air Station Miami Moves from Dinner Key to Opa-Locka Airport:
By 1976 both the HU-16E and the HH-52A were requiring increased maintenance due to their age. The HU-16E faced a mandatory requirement at the 11,000 hour mark. The HH-52A required greater effort in corrosion control due to the significant increase in shipboard deployment time. In July of 1977, the air stations seven, twenty six year old, HU-16s were replaced. In their lifetime they had logged over 10,000 hours, flown 13,800 Search and Rescue missions and given aid to 108,000 people. The interim replacement aircraft was the HC-131A Convair, a twin engined medium range transport. These were in turn replaced by the HU-25A medium range, twin engined jet, search aircraft. It would be 1984 before the HH-65 started to come on the line.
Twenty-seven officers and 72 enlisted personnel, equipped with five HH-65C Dolphin helicopters maintain a 24-hour Search and Rescue (SAR) and Law Enforcement (LE) alert. The HH-65 Dolphins are sophisticated SAR helicopters, fully IFR capable. Detroit averages over 320 SAR/LE missions annually that save an average of more than thirty lives and provide assistance to over two hundred others. Air Station Detroit has received two Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations.
In addition to SAR and LE missions, Air Station Detroit conducts flights in support of domestic icebreaking operations, Marine Environmental Protection or MEP, and mission support for over two hundred local, state, and federal agencies. The most visible of these missions include response to flooding on the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Ship-board deployments combating illegal drug/migrant activities in the Florida Straits and Windward Pass and crew augmentation for the Rotary Wing Air Intercept Missions charged with airspace security of the National Capital Region and a variety of other high profile security events are also part of Air Station Detroit's responsibilities.
Shipboard operations are self deployments using a Detroit helicopter. The deployment is via Miami where TACON is then shifted to a cutter. The deployment may be entirely on the cutter or in combination with land based facilities. The National Capital Region deployment is a 16 day TAD assignment, crew only, to supplement the Rotary Wing Intercept operations out of Reagan Airport serving Washington DC.
The unit's multi-mission capability plays a crucial role in public safety, navigability of waterways, pollution prevention, and compliance with Federal laws, and exemplifies the Coast Guard's motto: "Semper Paratus" (Always Ready). Flying approximately 3200 hours annually, the station aircrews have enabled the unit to amass an unprecedented record of over 60,000 accident-free flight hours.
HH-65C "Dolphin" helicopter from Air Station Detroit over the Detroit River with the Renaissance Center and Downtown Detroit in the Background.
1966 - The Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Established at Mobile, Al.
The Commandant approached the Chief of Staff of the Air Force with a request that the facility be transferred to the Coast Guard. The Air Force was receptive to this and on 17 December 1966, Air Station Mobile was officially commissioned with the transfer of HU-16E aircraft from Air Station Biloxi and the establishment of the fixed-wing and rotary-wing pilot training units.
The Air Station had a Training Division and a SAR Division. The SAR Division provided fixed-wing support and was under the operational control of the Eight Coast Guard District for all non-training missions. The HU-16E aircraft were placed in a pool which supported both the SAR and Training Divisions. The primary mission of the Training Division was to transition newly designated aviators to the HU-16E and HH-52A respectively and then send them to their units as designated co-pilots. Additionally fixed wing aviators were transitioned to helicopters (HH-52A) and helicopter pilots were taught to fly fixed wing aircraft. (HU-16E). Instructors were sent to operational units at varying times to conduct standardization flights for unit aviators.
There had been various programs for the introduction of Coast Guard Academy Cadets to Coast Guard aviation beginning in 1952. In 1958 a formal two week Cadet Aviation Training Program was initiated and took place at the Elizabeth City air station. Over a period of two months cadets entering their third year at the academy received class room instruction and a flight experience. In 1967 the program was transferred to the Aviation Training Center at Mobile. During the summer months the HU-16E training section conducted the Cadet Aviation Training Program for USCG Academy Cadets.
In 1969 the HH-3F began entering the Coast Guard inventory and a HH-3F training section was established at Mobile. A year later an Icebreaker Support Section was established. Expanded messing facilities and a Barracks/BOQ complex was constructed. In July 1969 Air Station Mobile was renamed the United States Coast Guard Aviation Training Center and was designated a headquarters unit. This placed the training center under the direct control of the Commandant, a move necessary to facilitate and coordinate the movement of several hundred pilots in and out of Mobile each year.
A study of Coast Guard aviator training requirements was also commenced in 1969. The study included a detailed analysis of costs and procedures. It was determined that a revised training program taking advantage of new concepts and technology could increase training effectiveness while simultaneously reducing costs. This was the starting point. It lead to the first full motion simulators in the country and revolutionalized Coast Guard flight training. The Coast Guard became the first military service to authorize instrument ratings strictly on simulator time.
At present the unit is named the Aviation Training Center, which better reflects its present functions.
The unit provides qualified aircrews and standardization for HU-25, HH-65, and HH-60 operations and additionally provides standardization training and certification for Coast Guard ship/helicopter operations. The unit maintains an operational commitment to provide aviation support for Coast Guard Eighth District search and rescue, law enforcement, marine safety, homeland security, and logistics missions. This is accomplished with an around-the-clock ready HU-25 and other available aviation assets.
With well over 400 active duty military, civilian and contract personnel, and a payroll of over 17 million dollars, the Aviation Training Center is one of the larger air units in the Coast Guard and is one of the largest non-industrial employers in the Mobile area.
1967 - Coast Guard / Air Force pilot exchange program initiated. The Coast Guard aviators served with the Air Force Combat Air Rescue and Recovery Squadrons in Vietnam.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered that search and rescue forces sent into Southeast Asia in May of 1964. The primary responsibility was given to the U.S. Air Force.
When the first units of the Air Rescue Service arrived with the short range HH43B helicopters they were not prepared for the unique challenges of combat aircrew recovery in the jungles and mountains of Vietnam and Laos. This deficiency was directly attributable to the draw-down of forces which took place in the late 1950’s. The concept, during this period was one of massive nuclear retaliation. Consequently the Air Force committed itself to a peacetime Search and Rescue capability.
Helicopters were assigned to individual Air Force bases founded on a study that determined that almost all accidents occurred within a 75-mile radius of the base of operations. Each base had a local base rescue detachment consisting of two or sometimes three helicopters. By the end of 1960, the Air Rescue Service (ARS) consisted of three squadrons and 1,450 personnel.
Things improved but the rapid increase in rescue requirements generated by direct involvement of US forces created an acute shortage of experienced HU-16 and helicopter pilots. The Air Force approached the Coast Guard for supplemental help at the beginning of 1966. An aviator reciprocal exchange program was suggested. It was not until March 1967 that the Coast Guard signed off on an implementing Memorandum of Agreement.
Orders were cut for the initial group of Coast Guard aviators under the Coast Guard - Air Force Aviator Exchange Program in July of 1967. From the eighty plus volunteers two fixed wing and three helicopter aviators were selected. The fixed wing aviators, both HU-16E qualified, were Lt. Thomas F. Frischmann and Lt. James Casey Quinn. Because the HU-16E was being phased out, both received orders to attend the Advanced Flying Course for the C-130 aircraft. This completed, they received orders to report to the 31st ARRS, Clark AFB, Republic of the Philippines. Lt. Frischmann remained there. Lt. Quinn transferred to the 39th ARRS at Tuy Hoa, South Vietnam. The helicopter pilots selected were LCDR Lonnie L. Mixon, LT Lance A. Eagan, and LT Jack C. Rittichier. They were transitioned to the HH-3E helicopter and assigned to the 37th ARRS at DaNang for combat rescue duty arriving on April 3, 1968 In preparing for this assignment they attended the Air Force Survival School at Fairchild AFB, Washington. This was followed by training in the HH-3E twin engine amphibious helicopter at Sheppard AFB, Texas. They then received advanced combat crew training was commencing in January at Eglin AFB, Florida. This was followed by high altitude helicopter flying in the mountains near Francis Warren AFB, Wyoming and jungle survival training at Clark AFB in the Philippines. They arrived in DaNang on April 3, 1968. LT Richard V. Butchka, LT James M. Loomis, and LTJG Robert T. Ritchie followed in April 1969. LCDR Joseph L. Crowe, and LT Roderick Martin III arrived in 1971 and LT Jack K. Stice, and LT Robert E. Long followed in 1972. All of these aviators were helicopter qualified and were assigned to the 37th ARRS at DaNang.
These Coast Guard aviators made major contributions. The Air Rescue Forces, know as the Jolly Green Giants, consisted of only two squadrons. The 40th was initially at Udorn Thailand and later moved to NKP. The 37th was at DaNang. The 37th ARRS initially had 14 HH-3Es assigned. The squadron was authorized 21 each pilots and copilots but rarely would have more than 70 to 80 percent of that number on board. Only 25 percent of replacement pilots were qualified as Aircraft Commander. Experienced helicopter pilots had been a problem since shortly after initial deployment. The situation was further impacted with the formation of the 20th Helicopter Squadron activated in October 1965 and the 21st Helicopter Squadron formed in 1967. These squadrons, part of the 14th Air Commando Wing, operated out of NKP and performed counter insurgency missions and mission support in the CIA war in Laos. This “Top Secret” operation, called Pony Express, further depleted the supply of experienced helicopter pilots available to the ARRS. ARRS requirements were met by transitioning fixed-wing pilots to helicopter operations. These pilots arrived in Southeast Asia directly from initial helicopter training. The Coast Guard aviators, well experienced helicopter pilots, arrived fully qualified. Though often junior in rank, the Coast Guard officers found themselves flying with a Major or Lieutenant Colonel as a copilot, but the rank disparity never interfered with the mission. Additionally, because of their experience, they were designated Instructor Pilots and were used extensively to train newly arriving pilots. LCDR Mixon was cited for developing new improved water recovery tactics and medical evacuations from surface vessels. Shipboard operations was and would remain a Coastie operation. Lieutenant Colonel Charles R. Klinkert, USAF, the 37th ARRS Commander in October 1968 said “The Coast Guard Aviators have been a terrific assist to the Air Force. Very few of us had any experience in this helicopter. These gentlemen came in here and helped us become real effective in this type of mission. I can’t say enough about them.” There were a series of commendations from the Air Force to the Commandant of the Coast Guard praising these men not only for their aeronautical skill but also the courage and valor they displayed in combat.
The Air Rescue forces in Southeast Asia didn’t get all of the downed airmen but no one can say they didn’t try. They did get 3.883 and provided the world with thousands of examples of unselfish humanity. A report prepared by the Air Force Inspection and Safety Center, summarizing helicopter use in combat rescues, noted that during the Vietnam War, between 1965 and 1972, helicopters came under significant hostile fire in 645 opposed combat rescue operations involving downed aircraft. Crews were rescued in six hundred, or 93 percent, of these cases. This was not accomplished without cost. The 37Th ARRS lost 28 men including Lt. Jack C. Rittichier USCG.
The Coast Guard aviators who served on the rescue team were highly praised by many. They stated that their exceptional proficiency was a product of their motivation to save lives, rather than individual brilliance. They no doubt downplayed themselves to avoid sounding boastful, but the commendations and awards presented to them proved not only their incentive, but most certainly their flying skills and bravery as well. This group of men were awarded 4 Silver Stars, 15 DFC’s, and 86 Air Medals.
Their numbers were not large -- Their contribution was. They were all volunteers who regularly put their lives on the line to save fellow airmen who were in peril of death or capture. The focus was on duty, honor, country, and Coast Guard. Their mission was noble. They were much more than participants -- they were heroes. Their performance brought honor upon themselves, Coast Guard Aviation and the United States Coast Guard. History should ever reflect their honorable actions.
1967 - United States Coast Guard transferred to the Department of Transportation.
Although the actual transfer of the Coast Guard from the Treasury Department to the Department of Transportation took place under his successor, Admiral Roland deserves much of the credit for the ease with which the transition was made.
The transfer, however, slowed down the implementation of the Aviation Plan as well as Coast Guard wide replacement and upgrade of assets. The Coast Guard attempted to educate the new department on the validity of it's roles and missions as well as the interdependence and cross utilization of assets which allowed the Coast Guard to perform its' missions so well. Unfortunately, the objectives of the Coast Guard and DOT never coalesced. The primary emphasis of DOT was regulatory oversight of road, rail and air transportation programs, industries and trust funds. The operational qualities and requirements of the Coast Guard were not fully appreciated and Transportation Secretaries were seldom willing or able to expend political capitol on the Coast Guard's behalf A little over a decade after transfer the Coast Guard would face a concerted effort from within the Department to de-militarize and privatize it while turning a good number of its functions over to other agencies or commercial concerns. In the early 1980s the Coast Guard was engaged in fighting for its very existence.
In 1967, the year the Coast Guard became part of DOT, it had an active duty strength of about 35,000 personnel. At the turn of the century the Coast Guard still had an active duty strength of about 35,000. In the intervening years however, significant events occurred that increased both the complexity and scope of Coast Guard missions. The Magnussen-Stevens Fisheries Act of 1976 provided the United States with a 200 mile Economic Exclusion Zone and assigned the Coast Guard law enforcement responsibilities for it. Counter Narcotic operations took a dramatic jump and by 1998 consumed 17% of the Coast Guard's operating budget. Migrant Interdiction increased dramatically with the large Cuban exodus of 1980 which turned into a large scale search and rescue operation. Migrant flows are now countered from multiple directions and countries. The grounding of the tanker EXXON Valdez in Alaska resulted in a flood of oil pollution laws and the bulk of regulatory development and enforcement fell upon the Coast Guard. In a series of speeches and congressional testimony given by ADM James W Loy, Commandant of the Coast Guard, during 1999 the seriousness of the Coast Guard's predicament was addressed. ADM Loy has ticked off alarming indicators that the Coast Guard wasn't always ready anymore. Adjusted for inflation the Coast Guard budget actually decreased by 30 percent between 1992 and 1998 and by 2000 it had been forced to cut scheduled operations by 10 percent.
On March 1, 2003 the Coast Guard became part of the newly created Department of Homeland Security. Initial indications are that it is a much better fit and will be advantageous to the Coast Guard and the public it serves. Time will tell.
1967 - The now familiar Coast Guard Red Stripe Identification Symbol was adopted and was incorporated into the aircraft paint scheme.
1969 - HH-3F helicopters entered Coast Guard service:
On January 4, 1969 the first of 40 HH-3F Pelican helicopters became operational with the delivery of three aircraft to the Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans. This twin turbine, medium range, amphibious, all weather helicopter extended the Coast Guard offshore search and rescue capabilities. The HH-3F had a maximum speed of 142 knots with a normal cruise speed of 130 knots and a range: 650 NM. The last one was delivered in 1973.
The HH-3F was manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, Division of United Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Connecticut. The HH3F was equipped with a single main rotor, twin engines rated at 1500 SHP each, a fully retractable tricycle landing gear, amphibious capabilities, and a hydraulically operated aft ramp that could be opened in flight, on the ground, or on water. The HH3F was additionally well suited for marine environmental protection, logistic and reconnaissance support, enforcement of laws and treaties, defense readiness and drug interdiction.
Normal crew included pilot and co-pilot seated side-by-side in the cockpit with the pilot on the right side. To the rear of the cockpit is the cabin. Access between the cockpit and the cabin could be used in flight. A folding jump seat was provided in the cockpit entry. A sliding cargo door is located on the right side of the forward end of the cabin. An eight-foot ramp was located at the rear of the cabin. The cabin accommodated two crew-men and six passengers; more in a rescue situation. Two large windows located in the forward cabin were used as search stations.
During 1989 the US Coast Guard acquired five HH-3E helicopters from the US Air Force to supplement the HH-3F fleet and converted them to the Coast Guard HH-3F configuration.
1969 - Icebreaker Support Section (IBSEC) established at Aviation and Support Center Mobile.
The Section was renamed the Ship Helicopter Division (SHOPDIV) in 1973, when deployments also included law enforcement Patrols aboard high endurance cutters (WHECs). In 1977, the division returned its primary mission to icebreaker support and received the title, Polar Operations Division (POPDIV). The HH-52As were operated until 1989, when the HH-65A “Dolphin” helicopters replaced them.
During January of 2005 the Polar Operations Division was disestablished. The reason for the closure was primarily the result of a continuous effort to balance resources against expanding operational requirements. The timing of the decision was driven by an immediate need to flow HH-65 operational capacity into gaps created by the engine replacement project. During the period 1966 to 2005, 1400 aviators completed 162 deployments safely conducting flight operations in the world’s most extreme environment, making the difficult seem routine, and leaving a legacy of accomplishment and discovery that will remain an enduring highlight of Coast Guard aviation history.
1969 - VC-11A executive transport entered service. First turbojet aircraft in Coast Guard service.
The VC-4A flew for an average of 800 hours per year and carried an average of 7.8 passengers per flight. The VC-11A, on the other hand, flew an average of 600 hours per year and carried an average of 6.5 passengers per flight.
1969 - Coast Guard Air Station Chicago established:
1969 - Coast Guard deploys a detachment to Greece to provide HU-16 pilot training for the Hellenic Air Force:
The situation in Cyprus had brought Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, to the threshold of war. In the spring of 1968, a military junta overthrew the elected government in Greece and established themselves in power. Tension between the Arabs and Israel was growing and would eventually lead to war. The United States was becoming heavily involved in Vietnam. The Soviets took advantage of the situation to enhance their presence in the Mediterranean area. Obscured by these events the growth of the “Piati Eskadra”, the Soviet Navy 5th Fleet, went almost unnoticed. Their ships no longer relied solely on the friendly ports of Latakia in Syria and Alexandria in Egypt. On the east and west of the island of Crete, marginally outside the Greek territorial waters, two large anchorages for the Russian warships were established!
The problem was recognized as serious, demanding a solution. The first step was to strengthen the U.S 6th Fleet. The second, to adjust NATO planning to the new situation. Two NATO members, Turkey and Greece were designated to assume a major role in meeting the challenge. Turkey controlled the Marmora straits, through which the Soviet ships were passing as they came out of the Black Sea into the Mediterranean. In the event of a crisis, Turkey could prevent the ships from transiting the straits. Greece, near the territory of which the Soviet fleet anchorages lay, was assigned the surveillance of the Soviet fleet and, if necessary, to be able to attack them. Surface ships were available and operated from various naval surveillance centers. The problem was the submarine threat. It was recognized that the best way for detecting and fighting submarines, during this period, was from the air.
Greece had no suitable aircraft for this purpose and in order to meet the challenge new defense procurements had to be made. The solution, however, was not straight forward. Almost all the armament procurements until then were through NATO using U.S funds. Although the financial problem was resolved the political obstacles were quite another matter. The United States Congress, because of the military dictatorship in Greece had demanded President Johnson initiate and enforce an arms embargo. Under this embargo, deliveries of F-5 fighters and discussions for the sale of C- 130E transports had been cancelled. The solution to the problem came from a completely unexpected quarter. Leonid Ilich Brezniev!
In August 1968, the Soviet forces rolled into (then) Czechoslovakia in order to put an end to the so called “Prague spring”. The democratic freedoms of the Greek citizens became a secondary consideration within the U.S Administration and NATO. Primary danger came from Soviet aggression and it had to be tackled. With this in mind, the Greek embargo was circumvented.
At this time, the Kongelige Norske Luftfosvare or Royal Norwegian Air Force was in the process of changing its anti-submarine aircraft. Because of the Soviet nuclear submarine threat Norwegian ASW capabilities were in the process of being upgraded. The first P-3 Orion arrived in January of 1969. It was decided, that as NATO assets, the Norwegian aircraft that were being replaced could be transferred to Greece. The Greek authorities had no objection as it represented a break in the embargo.
The aircraft in question were none other than the venerable Grumman Albatross. These were amphibians that had been constructed in 1951 and ’52.Some of them had started life as Grumman SA-16A-GR and others as SA-16B-GR. .All had been modified to SA-16B when delivered to the USAF where they served in a search and rescue role until 1960. They were modified for the ASW role and in 1961 and ’62 were transferred to Norway.
Two Norwegian squadrons were equipped with the Albatrosses. The 330 Squadron flying from Sola near Stavanger, and 333 Squadron in Andøya in the north of Norway between Narvik and Tromsø. Their role was not limited to the ASW and SAR but to other rather unusual duties. These included medevac, postal service to remote areas, ice and polar bear observation. They were not high time aircraft and because of the events taking place in the Mediterranean it was decided to inspect, upgrade, and repair as necessary as expeditiously as possible. This was done in Germany and the first of twelve HU-16 ASW aircraft arrived at the 112 Wing at Eleuis Air Base in February of 1969.
Training of the air and ground crews started immediately. Flying training was undertaken by personnel of the U.S Coast-Guard. During March 9 more aircraft arrived, while on August, 1 of the same year the 353 Naval co-operation Squadron was established. All Albatrosses came under this squadron.
By the end of 1969 the first part of training was completed and in the spring of 1970 operational training started. For the pilots and the ground crew it was undertaken by the U.S Coast Guard as noted above, while for the anti-submarine equipment operators the instructors were from the U.S. Navy. It was a new experience for the Hellenic Navy men who were occupying the seats of tactical co-coordinator, radio operator and anti-submarine equipment operator. The first was an officer and the other two warrant officers. The rest of the crew pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer were from the Hellenic Air Force.
Greek Air Force HU-16C with ASW equipment installed.
In early 1969 the long range aviation plan reflected a need for modification in the way the Coast Guard conducting aircraft training. The Navy and the Air Force were diverging from the direction the Coast Guard was going and training was costing more while becoming less optimum. Headquarters authorized an initial budget of $3000 and designated Commander Gilbert E. Brown to evaluate the effectiveness of simulation. Discussions were held with American, Braniff, Delta, and United Airlines, Flight Safety International, Embry Riddle University, the US Air Force, the US Navy and Link Flight Simulation. A lot was learned including the fact that cost would be a problem. Through Link it was learned that HumRRO (George Washington University) was producing SFTS modules (Army Hueys) to a single computer. An appointment was obtained and they assisted Commander Brown as he put together an initial study determining Coast Guard needs. The concept was presented to Coast Guard Headquarters and $330,000 was provided to do a study, present the findings, write the needed procurement specifications, develop the training syllabus and consult during implementation. A presentation was made in December 1969. It was enthusiastically received and the necessary funds to build a simulator for both the HH-52A and the HH-3F were authorized. A Variable Cockpit Training System (VCTS) was subsequently built at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile.
Commander Brown transferred to the Aviation Training Center at Mobile in the summer of 1971 and was designated the VCTS Branch Chief. In 1973 he became Chief of the Training Division.
Procurement was advertised and the contract was awarded to Reflectone. During the next 18 months development and installation at Mobile took place. Design features of the simulator were evaluated on the basis of training value per dollar and what tasks could best be done in the simulator as determined by the study. The simulators use a single computer with a high speed operating system. Each cockpit was installed on a six degree of freedom motion system. Training time lost to maintenance remained below one percent.
Simultaneously with simulator construction the training program was prepared. Several concepts were a radical departure from the traditional methods of military pilot training. Similar to airline procedures the focus was on training objectives which could be evaluated by observing tasks that a pilot might be expected to do in the operational environment including the operating of aircraft systems in all normal and emergency conditions. The student did not need to know all components of a system. If he could not control a component from the cockpit he/she would not need to know about it. Initially there were a good number who were less than enthusiastic about this. A second concept which departed from traditional training was that of proficiency based advancement. As soon as the student performed a particular operation at the desired level, he/she would move on to the next level of difficulty. The course length was allowed to vary with the learning rate of the individual.
Advanced training capabilities included performance play back, automated demonstrations of selected maneuvers, automated performance scoring and in cockpit control of all training and environmental conditions. The instructor position allows the simultaneous monitoring of student performance and the ability to operate the simulator controls. The instructor can intervene and freeze the simulator at any time. This allows a real time discussion and review of student performance as it takes place.
Annually, all Coast Guard helicopter pilots return to Mobile for a concentrated week of instrument and emergency procedure training. The Coast Guard was the first service to authorize instrument ratings, based solely simulator flight. The Transition Course qualifies rated helicopter pilots in a specific aircraft utilizing both simulator and aircraft. A Qualification Course prepares fixed-wing pilots for a rotary-wing designation. The Aviation Training Center is the standardization unit and as such edits flight handbooks, publishes newsletters, and other training material. Standardization visits are made to all air stations on a preset cycle.
The Training Center also conducts Coast Guard fixed-wing training and transition. All training for the C-130 aircraft is conducted using U.S. Air Force facilities. The HU-16 training was done solely in the aircraft. With the procurement of the HU-25, simulator training was provided.
As the HU-25 came on board and the HH-65 and the HH-60 replaced the HH-52 and the HH-3F the appropriate simulators were obtained and courses of instruction were developed.
¤ The HU-25 operational flight trainer (OFT) became operational in March 1985. A service life extension upgrade was done in 2003 and the flight management computer (CDU) was upgraded in 2006.
Initial USCG instructor training for the newly procured HC-144A "Ocean Sentry" was done by CASA in Spain. Pilot training will be done at ATC. The current plan is to build a HC-144 simulator building and level D simulator starting next year.
1969 - Air station Cape May New Jersey recommissioned
HH-52A Helicopter on the leftHH-65A Helicopter on the right
During the summer months the group office established seasonal Search and Rescue Detachments (SARDET) at Fortescue Inlet, Townsend Inlet and Roosevelt Inlet. These were surface units fully supported by the helicopters from the Cape May Air Station.
In 1998, as a result of a Coast Guard aviation streamlining initiative to realign unit location with the capabilities of today's modern aircraft, Air Station Brooklyn, New York and Group-Air Station Cape May, New Jersey resources were combined at a newly constructed $13 million facility at Atlantic City International Airport.
1970 - Air Station Cape Cod Massachusetts established:
The medium range rescue Sikorsky HH-3F Pelican helicopter emerged at Air Station Cape Cod in 1976 and worked side-by-side with its counterpart the HH-52A, a short range rescue helicopter, until 1984 when the HH-3F assumed the duties of both aircraft. The HH-3F enabled the air station to reach farther off shore and its greater payload allowed it to carry more equipment and survivors. The HH- 3F continued to protect the northeastern area until replaced by the Sikorsky HH-60J Jayhawk, a new medium range rescue helicopter, in 1991. The HU-16E Albatross was replaced when the Coast Guard entered the jet age. In March 1983 the last HU-16E in the Coast Guard inventory, HU-16E CGNR 7250 was officially retired at Air Station Cape Cod. It is proudly displayed at the air station. Its replacement, the HU-25A Guardian, a turbofan jet manufactured by the Falcon Jet Corporation, can fly 600 miles at 400 knots, orbit for 30 minutes, drop survival equipment while pinpointing the position of a distressed vessel. The Guardian has proven itself vital in drug interdiction as well as SAR with state-of-the-art radar and sensory packages on board. Cape Cod also has the only HU-25 aircraft in the Coast Guard equipped with Aireye, an airborne oil spill tracking and mapping system. The Aireye side-looking-airborne-radar (SLAR) excels not only at monitoring oil pollution, but in tracking icebergs in support of the International Ice Patrol.
With the transfer of the Coast Guard to the Homeland Security Department the Air Station has added Airborne Use of Force and Vertical Insertion to its rotary wing capability. Aircrew are designated as Aviation Gunners and trained to fire weapons from the aircraft if needed in a Law Enforcement/Homeland Security mission. Vertical insertion enables a crew to begin pre-planned law enforcement missions by rapidly deploying a boarding team to a vessel using "Fast Rope" techniques.
As DOD tenants of Otis Air Base realigned over the past 30 plus years, Coast Guard presence on the Base continued to grow. In addition to the air station other Coast Guard units on the reservation include the Coast Guard Northeastern Regional Fisheries Training Center, Electronic Support Detachment Cape Cod, Communications Station Boston, Marine Safety Detachment Cape Cod, Atlantic Area armory, and Port Security Unit 301. As a result of the Base Closure and Realignment Act the 102nd fighter group of the Massachusetts Air National Guard was redesignated as an Intelligence Wing and the Coast Guard assumed full responsibility for all aspects of maintenance, approach lighting, tower operations, weather forecasting, NAVAIDS and snow removal in 2008.
1970 - In depth evaluation of hovercraft suitability for Coast Guard use conducted:
In the late 1960s significant interest was generated within the Coast Guard as to the feasibility of obtaining Air Cushion Vehicles (ACVs) to support a variety of Coast Guard missions. When three SK-5 ACVs, no longer required for the Naval mission in Vietnam, became available in late 1969 the Coast Guard elected to conduct an expanded ACV evaluation program. The hovercraft were overhauled in the summer of 1970. Two ACVs, the first arriving in October of 1970 were assigned to the Fort Point Coast Guard Station, San Francisco, California. The third was utilized for Artic Trials at Point Barrow Alaska.
In October of 1970, The Naval Ship Research and Development Center acting as an agent for the Department of Defense, requested the Coast Guard provide the operating and maintenance personnel for an ACV to be operated from the Naval Artic Research Laboratory, Point Barrow, Alaska. The ACV was used in a series of performance tests over the snow and ice on the lagoon east of Barrow. As summer progressed additional tests over tundra and open water were conducted. On 1 August the craft departed Barrow to operate in conjunction with the Coast Guard Icebreaker Northwind. The ACV followed the pack line in a westerly direction and then turned north, engaging the major pack ice in route to the base camp. The hovercraft was used to transfer personnel and supplies between the base camp and the Northwind. It was also fitted with sounding equipment and an electric winch to conduct observation probes. The Consensus was that the ACV performed far better than anticipated and would be of significant use but could not replace the shipboard helicopters.
On completion of the Artic trials the ACV was transported to Travis City, Michigan and commenced winter operations out of the Saint Ignace Coast Guard Station. Although the northern operation pointed out several problem areas the potential of this type of vehicle in the Northern Great Lakes became obvious. Additional evaluation was later conducted in the Chesapeake Bay Area. The San Francisco unit continued to operate during this period.
The evaluation report recognized that the ACV would not replace the utilization of boats and aircraft due to operational limitations the ACV had that was not present in the other craft. The report did, however, conclude that the air cushion vehicle could and should play a significant role in the Coast Guard. It went on to illustrate that used in concert with small boats and aircraft, the Coast Guard would be able to provide a more effective response capability at less cost. The Coast Guard did not procure ACVs. The capability was not disputed but it was recognized that newer and more advanced and more expensive hovercraft would have to be procured. The Coast Guard was in the process of a large upgrade of its small craft and cutters as well as significant aircraft purchases and the development of the infrastructure required to operate them. The determining factor was the amount of money available and project priority. Recognizing that the ACV could not replace the aircraft or small boat the Coast Guard elected not to utilize ACVs.
1971 - The Air station Borinquen Puerto Rico was established:
Air Station Borinquen consists of the hanger, the support buildings adjacent the hanger, and the housing area. The housing area presently has 225 units, a Coast Guard Club with adjoining swimming pool, La Plaza complex containing an exchange, mini-mart, and a preschool and daycare center. The Air Station has a complement of approximately 165 enlisted and 35 officers; 150 civilians are also employed on base. The rest of the base housing is occupied by various Army, Air Force, Navy, and Federal Agency personnel.
1972 -- The Coast Guard Uniform is changed:
Admiral Chester R. Bender became Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard in 1970. He felt that the Coast Guard should create a distinctly different uniform from that of the Navy and solidify the fact that the Coast Guard was a separate organization. Admiral Bender also felt that the traditional bluejacket enlisted uniform was demeaning for older enlisted personnel and that it detracted from the authority of petty officers engaged in law enforcement duties. A board was established to consider the uniform change. Retaining the Navy uniform was not an option. The board proposed a uniform similar in style to the old Surfman’s uniform. The distinctive color was suggested by the Army’s Nattic Research Laboratory as it was different from any other military or government service. The board recommended an enlisted uniform similar to that proposed for officers.
The Commandant circulated a questionnaire and photographs of the newly designed uniform throughout the service. The reaction by the enlisted personnel was very favorable but the proposed uniform was not popular with the majority of the officers. This was especially true in the aviation ranks as it spelled the end to the distinctive aviation greens and the leather jackets. The Coast Guard Blue uniform was approved by the Secretary of Transportation John A. Volpe in 1972. It was several years in getting to the field and would be lamented by some for a considerable time afterward. The uniform became known as “Bender Blues.”
1973 - Medium Range Search Aircraft evaluation conducted - This led to the procurement of the HU-25:
In July of 1971 a Coast Guard Aircraft Characteristics Board was convened to develop operational and performance requirements for Medium Range Search (MRS) aircraft as a replacement for the HU-16E. Concurrently, the Board determined fleet size and geographical distribution. In April of 1972 the Board recommended leasing one representative multi-engine aircraft for mission evaluation in each of the following classifications: turboprop, turbofan, and turbojet.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) resulted in the leasing of a Cessna Citation fanjet and an Israeli J 1123 Westwind turbojet. The RFP did not result in a timely response for a turboprop aircraft so the Coast Guard VC-4A was utilized. The operational evaluation of these aircraft focused on the suitability of each class of aircraft for the range of Coast Guard missions and on establishing a size (weight and volume) baseline for MRS specifications. The evaluation established the viability of the turbofan for multi-mission applications. The turbofan also offered significant reliability when compared to reciprocating engine and turboprop aircraft. The Citation was found to be inadequate in size to perform the Coast Guard’s multi-missions. The Westwind was also found to be lacking in size.
The Aircraft Characteristics Board after reviewing the interim and final evaluation reports, and after re-examining the operational requirements determined the MRS aircraft would be powered by fanjet engines, weigh no less than 20,000 pounds with a minimum combined cockpit and cabin interior volume of 600 cubic feet, and have aerial delivery capability.
The three minimum size candidates identified as potential contenders under these requirements were: the Rockwell Sabre 75A, the French Dassault Falcon 20, and the British BH-125. The BH-125 was eliminated because the turbo jets that powered it would in low altitude loiter missions impose severe and unacceptable fuel consumption penalties. The Falcon 20 and the Sabre 75A had just completed a head-on FAA procurement competition. Rockwell’s offer significantly under bid that of the Falcon Jet Corporation. The U.S. Military was already using the Saber 75 and rather than proceed with a competitive MRS procurement which would duplicate the FAA effort, the decision was made to proceed with the issuance of a Military Interservice Procurement Request to the U.S. Navy for the purchase of the Sabre 75A.
1973- Coast Guard deployed helicopters on surface vessels: Drug interdiction operations begin:
In response to a growing drug problem, Congress passed the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. It replaced more than 50 pieces of drug legislation and is the legal foundation for government anti-drug operations. It went into effect on May 1, 1971 and was enforced by the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD) which operated within the Department of Justice. There were, however other agencies also responsible for enforcing drug laws and due to the lack of coordination and perceived lack of cooperation between the BNND and the U.S. Customs Service President Nixon proposed a reorganization plan. The plan was passed by Congress in 1973, creating a single federal agency, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to consolidate and coordinate the government’s drug control activities. Additionally an intelligence section was established. Drugs were being smuggled in by air. Some of the aircraft were utilized for one way trips at small out-of-the-way airports. Drugs were also smuggled in by surface vessel. The type used was transitioning from recreational yachts and sailboats to the typical small rusty Caribbean freighter which would off load to small boats which would dash for shore. The previous policy had been to apprehend the smuggler as they delivered their illegal drugs. This was changed to a policy of interdiction of the drug-runner prior to reaching the shore. The Custom service had a fleet of confiscated aircraft and initially handled the air-interdiction but neither the former BNDD or the Customs Service had a navy. Although the U.S. Coast Guard had been transferred from the Treasury Department to the Department of Transportation it still retained the responsibility for maritime law enforcement. The Coast Guard had the maritime assets and its participation was requested. In the beginning there was very little hard intelligence. The Coast Guard operated by placing cutters on patrol in the obvious choke points in the transit from Columbia to the United States. Periodically an HU-16 was launched specifically to look for a ‘Hot” vessel but most missions were surveillance covering coastal waters, the high seas and the island areas for caches and vessels that fit the profile.
In the summer of 1974 “Operation Buccaneer” took place. This was a joint surveillance and interdiction effort involving the Coast Guard, Customs Service, and the Drug Enforcement Agency. It was designed to blockade the Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti, thereby denying drug smugglers their preferred route northward from Jamaica and Columbia to the Bahamas and then to the south east coast of Florida. Helicopters had deployed on the 210s previously but not to the extent that was about to take place. Operation Buccaneer yielded an ambitious quantum leap in force projection for the Coast Guard. Ships and aircraft from other districts augmented Seventh Coast Guard District resources. Fixed wing assets were in the air constantly and helicopters leap-frogged from ship to ship, providing highly reliable surveillance information in the excellent prevailing weather.
Experience gained from this operation was used with improve interdiction planning. The Coast Guard made a presentation on the how and what the Coast Guard could do. These efforts were integrated with efforts of the Customs service and the DEA. Methods of communication and operations were established and some joint night barrier patrols were conducted between the Bahamas and the U.S. coastline. The 82 footers were put on patrol and drug seizures increased substantially. From these modest beginnings, the Coast Guard dramatically increased its involvement. Interdiction efforts moved from the mainland shoreline to "Choke-points" in the transit zone where ships smuggling marijuana had to pass through to reach the distribution points. From this Steel Web concept was developed. Operation Steel Web was developed. Steel Web is the Coast Guards multiyear campaign to position the requisite interdiction forces where they best counter the ever evolving narco-trafficking threats. The strategic concept is to deny drug smugglers access to maritime routes by a sequence of operations in which interdiction forces are concentrated in high threat areas of the Caribbean and eastern Pacific and significantly disrupt drug traffic. These operations are referred to as pulse operations and once completed an enhanced presence to deter and interdict subsequent smuggling is established and the interdiction forces are redeployed to other high threat areas.
Coast Guard aviation involvement continued to increase. Helicopters continued deploy on the ships and new Coast Guard jet aircraft were equipped with fighter-type interceptor radar and infrared sensors to locate, identify, and track suspected aircraft. The Coast guard increasingly took over the responsibility of air-interdiction.
The 7th District Command Center became the center of gravity for counter-drug efforts in the Southeastern United States and the Caribbean.
1974 - Air station North Bend Oregon established:
©2003 - 2006 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
©2003 - 2006 - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED