Search and Rescue

Coast Guard Aviation has multi- mission responsibilities and performs them all very well but it is the Search and Rescue mission that defines Coast Guard Aviation. – The aircrews have known the fist of fear and a mouth so dry it was hard to talk. They also have experienced the elation that comes with the knowledge that they have saved a person’s life. It transcends. They take justifiable pride in what they are able to accomplish and are humbled by what they could not. There is an aura of camaraderie and dedication.

Coast Guard Aviation is a Calling.


The Rescue of the Crew of the Scalloper TERRY T

By Sean M. Cross, CAPT, USCG (retired)

The Rescue of the Crew of the Scalloper TERRY T By Sean M. Cross, CAPT, USCG (retired) “As the basket was lowered a fifth time to pick up the two remaining men, a huge wave hit the awash stern of the TERRY T knocking the last two crewmen – the master and the engineer – – …

The Perfect Rescue

By George Hall (with Permission from Flying Magazine)

The Perfect Rescue By George Hall  With Permission from Flying Magazine Originally published in Flying Magazine on 1 January 2002 If, as hoary nautical tradition holds, it’s bad luck to rename a ship, then the poor old SS Sea Breeze was damned and damned again. The midsize (606 feet) cruise ship began life in 1958 as – …

The Role of the HH-3F in SAR

The Role of the HH-3F in SAR Shared with Permission from the Naval Aviation Foundation Search & Rescue AccountsCG 1426 The Burmah Agate- Mimosa Tanker Fire St. Petersburg Hall Boat Seaplane Lost The Miracle Rescue: The Prinsendam The Minimum And The Maximum Rescue in Newfoundland – Sabena Air Crash Biscayne Bay Professionalism A Tragic Good Friday – …

Alaska Ranger Rescue Crew

The Alaska Ranger Rescue

Ms. Kalee Thompson

The Alaska Ranger Rescue By Ms. Kalee Thompson   he Alaska Ranger, which sank Mar 23, 2008, in Dutch Harbor(Photo by U.S Coast Guard) Before dawn on March 23, 2008, the Alaska Ranger, a large fishing vessel sank in the Bearing Sea, America’s deadliest waters. As 47 souls fought for survival, the Coast Guard launched – …

Crew of HH3F 1486

The Bluebird Rescue

By Chris Whiddon

This rescue involved the first high seas deployment of a rescue swimmer and is a tribute to the persistence and professionalism of Coast Guard men and women who perform rescues each and every day.


Kodiak Coast Guard HH-60 Helicopter Crash

By Megan Holland and Doug O'Hara, Anchorage Daily News

This article from the Anchorage Daily News is the account of the crash in the words of the Pilot at the controls (Copilot) during the rescue attempt and at the time of the crash.


Underwater Discovery Unravels Mystery

By Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors Editor

On March 7, 1967 UF-2G CGNR 1240 apparently met with disaster and after extensive searches was never found. The bodies of 3 of the 6 crew members aboard were never found. Recently, in July 2006, a charter boat stumbled across the wreckage of something unknown at the time. The Association of Underwater Explorers went to – …

You Have To Go Out, But You Don’t Have To Come Back

By J.R. Lee, AOC, USCG (Ret.) And Ted A. Morris, Lt. Col., USAF, Retired

A U.S. Coast Guard PBM-5 seaplane CGNR 59012 had the left wing float and five feet of the left wing tip were torn away during a night JATO lift off from rough open ocean waters medivac. Pilots MacDowell and Douglas flew the damaged aircraft back to home base. They made a successful night water landing – …

Swatow, China, January 1953, P2V ditching, PBM crash and rescue

By Commander Mitchell A. Perry, USCG (Ret)

I’ll always remember “Big John” as we TransPac-ed PBM-5G No. 84738 together, worked and flew together, and were off Swatow where No. 84738 crashed and sank. John later told me when he was swimming around in the cold dark Chinese waters and trying to signal the rescue destroyer, that he could hear the other PBM – …

Storm God and Heroes

By Todd Lewan, AP National Writer

The story of the La Conte is based on interviews with 11 Coast Guard helicopter flight crew members involved in the rescue; three members of the ground crew; Coast Guard spokesmen in Juneau, Alaska, and Martinsburg, W.Va.; the surviving crew members of the La Conte; Jesse Evans, who found the remains on Shuyak Island; the – …

HMS Bounty Rescue

As Hurricane Sandy approached land, the HMS Bounty and 16 sailors aboard were in dire need of help. More than 90 miles off the coast of Hatteras, N.C., the three-masted sailing vessel had lost power and was taking on water in an area mariners call the “Graveyard of the Atlantic” for its infamously treacherous seas. With its pumps – …

HU-16 (UF) water take-off

Russian Medevac

by CAPTAIN Carlton W. Swickley, AvNumber 725

The message came from the 54-foot Trudovaja Slava, a large Soviet factory ship on station off the New England coast. Since the Soviet fishing fleet operated in a world of their own and rarely contacted others, the emergency message was most unusual.


Ocean Express

By Barrett T. Beard

Ocean Express, an unusual ocean going vessel, was, in reality, a movable offshore oil-drilling rig, in the form of a barge nearly 200 feet long and over 100 feet wide. Buildings on the barge’s deck provided offices and accommodation spaces for the 33 crew members working and living aboard. This is the story of its – …

Mayday – The Ocean Crusader

About 10:20 pm on 5 July, 2000, HH-65 CGNR 6539 was heading back to base after monitoring a swamp fire east of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana and heard “Mayday Mayday Mayday – Ocean Crusader – I’m an oil rig – I’m on fire”


Manislov – This is Bill

By Bill Porter

This story appeared in “Alaska Magazine” in 1979 and was also featured in the Commandants’ Bulletin a couple of times. Recently a book, “Adak, the rescue of Alfa Foxtrot 586” by Andrew Jampoler was published about the P-3 ditching and rescue effort which included CG 1500 out of Kodiak along with a Russian fishing vessel.

“It’s Christmas, Daddy”

By Barrett T. Beard

Two days before Christmas 1955, a helicopter rescue took place that changed the direction of Coast Guard aviation occurred on the two days before Christmas 1955. This case firmly bonded the helicopter to the Coast Guard in the public’s mind and laid the groundwork for all future aircraft acquisitions. It took only one helicopter with – …

Rescue of Survivors of Sabena Airline Crash 1946

Photos courtesy of Mrs. Alola Giffin Morrison (Daughter of Captain Alvin Giffin, USCG)

It may not be staggering to the average American or even Coast Guard Aviators today, but one must be mindful that this was the first ever major rescue for the helicopters in question and was to later create the climate wherein the Coast Guard became the prime user of helicopters for all types and kinds – …

Northwest Flight 292 Rescue

By Captain Carlton W. Swickley, USCG (Ret.)

In the relatively quiet, wee hours of the morning of 14 July 1960, Mr. E.R. Lizada was on duty at the Manila Radio Station. Over the last hour, he had received several routine reports from Northwest Airlines Flight 292, a Douglas DC-7 inbound to Manila from Okinawa and Tokyo. All semblance of routine was shattered – …

AST1 Willard Milam USCG

By John "Bear" Moseley, CGAA Historian

This narrative recounts the actions of AST1 Willard Milam as an individual, but the rescue, like so many others, displays the elements inherent in all rescues; Coast Guardsmen willing to put their lives on the line to save others. It is a first person account. It manifests the teamwork necessary to accomplish the mission and – …

The Coast Guard Flight Crew

By John "Bear" Moseley, CGAA Historian

There is a special relationship between crewmembers which is unique to Coast Guard Aviation. Academically this could be identified as a shared mental model or mindset. In operational language, it is a culture of mutual respect and team mentality resulting in a successful mission in a high risk environment. There are many examples of aircrew – …

The Goat and the Goat Herders

By John "Bear" Moseley, CGAA Historian

The Albatross was designed for optimal 4 ft seas, and could land in more severe conditions. With JATO takeoffs could be made in 5- 9 ft. seas. There have been take-offs made without JATO that exceeded the 5 foot figure. With lives at stake there were numerous times when “possible” was substantially re-defined.


The HH-52A and Those Who Flew It

By John "Bear" Moseley, CGAA Historian

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.

Biscayne Bay Professionalism

By J.R. Lee, AOC, USCG (Ret) and Ted A. Morris, Lt.Col., USAF (Ret)

Late in the afternoon of April 16, 1950, William Strecker and Gus Detrick of Miami, FL made ready Strecker’s 35-foot cabin cruiser, Moonlight, for an evening of fishing. The most important thing Mr. Strecker did was to inform his wife of where they were going, and when they would return.


A Tragic Good Friday – 11 April 1952

By J. R. Lee, AOC, USCG, Retired And Ted A. Morris, Lt. Col., USAF, Retired

A U.S. Coast Guard PBY-5A amphibian. In a sister aircraft, number 48429, pilots Bilderback and Natwig landed in rough ocean waters to rescue sixteen survivors of a DC-6 which had crashed off San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Good Friday, April 11, 1952.

A Selfless Calling

By Ptero John “Bear” Moseley, Aviator 743

There were 11 Coast Guard Aviators that flew with these rescue forces in Vietnam between 1968 and 1972. They were all volunteers – they were all highly praised. The following relates a mission that involved two of these gentlemen and illustrates that if at all possible – No one was left behind.

LT. August Kliesch in helicopter - Canadian PBY crew -- only one could come out at a time

The Minimum And The Maximum

By CDR Gib Brown, USCG (Ret),

In 1945, an RCAF Aircraft crashed in northern Labrador. After 2 rescue fixed wing aircraft crashed in trying to rescue the original survivors, the Coast Guard was asked to attempt the rescue by helicopter. This is an annotation of that effort.

Sabena Crash Site Newfoundland

Rescue in Newfoundland – Sabena Air Crash

This publication is the account of the efforts and successful rescue of survivors from the crash of a Sabena Airlines C-54 in Newfoundland near to Gander. The text is from official reports recently found in the office of the CG Historian, CG Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

Hall PH-2 & PH-3 “Hall Boat“ (1938)

St. Petersburg Hall Boat Seaplane Lost

By William Snyder, St Petersburg Times

Demonstrating the quiet courage expected in a service which teaches its members that then “must go out but don’t have to come back”, six Coast Guard airmen had a harrowing experience when they abandoned a huge Hall Flying boat a few seconds before it capsized and later sank in 1,004 feet of water.

MS Prisendam sinking off Alaska with USCG HH 3F 1980

The Miracle Rescue: The Prinsendam

By PA1 Day Boswell

After a fire in the engine room stopped the cruise liner Prinsendam dead in the water, the Coast Guard moved into action to rescue all 520 passengers and crew.

CG 1426 The Burmah Agate- Mimosa Tanker Fire

On the morning of November 1, 1979, the Burmah Agate, inbound to Galveston Bay with a full load of fuel, collided with the outbound freighter Mimosa just outside the entrance to the Galveston Bay Entrance Channel. The Mimosa struck the Burmah Agate on its starboard side, tearing a hole in the hull , and setting – …