HH-52 Sea Guard
The Coast Guard acquired 99 HH-52As, beginning in 1963, and retired the last one in service in 1989. For over 30 years, these amphibious aircraft were truly the "workhorses" of the Coast Guard's air fleet. The HH-52, now replaced by the Aerospatiale HH-65 Dolphin, rescued more persons from distress than any other helicopter in the world to that time.
The Coast Guard established a helicopter Icebreaker Support Section (IBSEC) at ATC Mobile in 1969. The section had thirty officers, ninety-one enlisted personnel, and fourteen HH-52A "Seaguard" helicopters. Pilots and aircrew trained for Cold Weather Survival, Mountain and Rough Terrain Operations, Helicopter External Load Operations, and Shipboard-Helicopter Operations, including flight, maintenance, and deck handling. The outfit was renamed the Ship-Helicopter Division (SHOPDIV) in 1973, when deployments also included law enforcement patrols aboard Coast Guard high endurance cutters (WHEC's). In 1977, the division returned its primary mission to icebreaker support and received its current title, Polar Operations Division (POPDIV). The HH-52A's were operated until 1989, when HH-65A "Dolphin" helicopters replaced them.
The first helicopter stationed here in San Francisco was the HO3S-1 Dragonfly in 1947. In the early fifties the Grumman HU-16E Albatross replaced the air stations aging WWII fixed wing inventory. This general purpose amphibian, affectionately known as the "Goat", proved to be a highly adaptable platform for SAR and LE. Eventually, the Air Station received the HH-52A Sea Guard helicopter in 1963 which was a significant improvement over it's predecessor with its improved flight characteristics and capabilities.
Commissioned in June 1966, Coast Guard Air Station Detroit is located twenty miles north of Detroit on Selfridge Air National Guard Base in the great state of Michigan. The original complement of ten officers and twenty-nine enlisted people, equipped with three Sikorsky HH-52A Seaguard amphibious helicopters, quickly became an integral part of the Coast Guard's National Search and Rescue (SAR) effort and the aviation hub for the Ninth Coast Guard District,headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.
United States Coast Guard Air Station Savannah was commissioned in the summer of 1963 on what was then known as Hunter Army Air Force Base (which became Hunter Army Airfield in 1967). In 1964 the Coast Guard's original HH-52A Basic Operational Training Unit (BOTU) was established in Savannah. This unit was the forerunner of the Coast Guard's specialized aviator training program now at the Aviation Training Center in Mobile, Alabama.
Air Station Savannah was commissioned in 1963 with three HH-52A's, nine officers and a crew of 23. The station's mission was Search & Rescue for the "Coastal Empire" along with providing transition training for the HH-52A. In 1966 the transition training mission was discontinued.
Coast Guard Group/Air Station Astoria was established on 14 August 1964 at Tongue Point Naval Station, Astoria, Ore., with a crew of 22 officers and 104 enlisted men. Two single engine HH-52A Seaguard helicopters were operated from that location. These helicopters staged from the Port of Astoria Airport during periods of inclement weather. This was done until the Air Station was permanently moved to its present location at the Warrenton, Ore., airport on February 25, 1966. The helicopters were replaced with three larger twin engine HH-3F Pelican helicopters in March 1973.
Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles is located at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The unit began as an aviation detachment in August 1962, with one HO-4S helicopter from Air Station San Diego. Air Station Los Angeles was commissioned in November 1962 with two HO-4S helicopters, nine officers, and twenty enlisted personnel. In May 1963, the unit switched to three HH-52A "Sea Guard" helicopters, which remained in service until November 1987. At that time the station transitioned to its current aircraft, three HH-65A "Dolphin" helicopters.
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