1962: Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles Established
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 HO4S helicopter from Air Station San Diego. Air Station Los Angeles was commissioned in November 1962 with two HO4S 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 moved to its present location and transitioned to The HH-65A “Dolphin” helicopters. In 2002 the Air Station received one additional helicopter and upgraded to the HH-65C. Twenty-Two officers and 68 enlisted personnel presently staff the unit.
Air Station Los Angeles maintains a Search and Rescue helicopter 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is responsible for protecting the coastal area of Southern California. The area of responsibility begins at the San Diego County and Orange County border to the south near Dana Point and extends north to the San Luis Obispo County and Monterey County border near Morro Bay. The area reaches west 200 miles out to sea and covers approximately 20,000 square miles. On average, 200 SAR (search and rescue) cases are prosecuted every year. In addition to SAR, Air Station LA helicopters provide Homeland Security Patrols for the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and Port Hueneme in Ventura County.
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.