1977 – Air Station/Group Humboldt Bay, California Commissioned
Coast Guard Group / Air Station Humboldt Bay was commissioned on June 24, 1977 at the Arcata-Eureka Airport in McKinleyville, CA. This completed a multi-year initiative by local residents to gain a year-round aviation search and rescue (SAR) facility for Northern California. Prior to 1977, an aviation detachment from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco provided air coverage during the summer season but the response time of over two hours was not fast enough for victims to survive in the 40-50 degree water commonly found along the north coast. Originally named Air Station Arcata, it was redesignated to its current name in May 1982. The new $3.5 million facility also relocated boat station support offices from nearby Samoa to establish centralized command and control over all Coast Guard assets in the area.
Humboldt Bay, California is the latest in a series of harbors on the West Coast of the United States being developed as a deep water port to service the Pacific Rim and other international ports of call. Coast Guard Group / Air Station Humboldt Bay serves the public along 250 miles of rugged coastline from the Mendocino – Sonoma County line north to the California – Oregon border. Cold Pacific currents, powerful Alaskan winter storms, towering offshore rocks, fog and dangerous harbor entrance bars consistently threaten commercial and recreational vessels operating in the area. The primary mission is search and rescue, and most cases are dramatic and lifesaving in nature. The Air Station also provides MEDEVAC support for injured personnel in the mountains surrounding the Group area. Secondary missions include aerial support for aids to navigation, law enforcement, and marine environmental protection
The Air Station operates three Eurocopter HH-65C Dolphin helicopters. Station Humboldt Bay, at the Humboldt Bay harbor entrance, stands ready with two 47-foot self-righting motor lifeboats and a 25-foot response boat. The Cutter BARRACUDA, an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat, is based at Woodley Island Marina in Eureka, and the Cutter DORADO, also an 87-foot Coastal Patrol Boat, is based in Crescent City. Station Noyo River covers the Fort Bragg area with two 47-foot self-righting motor lifeboats and a 25-foot response boat. The Aids to Navigation Team (ANT) Humboldt Bay maintains navigation aids from Crescent City to Point Arena with its 21-foot small boat. Group/Air Station Humboldt Bay also has a very active Coast Guard Auxiliary with Flotillas in Crescent City, Eureka, Redding, Mendocino/Fort Bragg and Clearlake. These dedicated Auxiliary members volunteer their time to support numerous missions including aids to navigation, training to the boating public, and search and rescue response in their respective areas.
In carrying out Coast Guard missions, Group/Air Station Humboldt Bay’s personnel, two hundred and fifty strong, operate 24 hours a day, every day, serving the Northern California Region.