UPDATE: Search postpones USCG demo on Saipan
UPDATE: The U.S. Coast Guard has been forced to postpone the MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew’s visit to Saipan today, March 20, 2023, as the aircrew is engaged in the search for a missing spearfisher off Blue Hole, Guam.
“We do apologize for any inconvenience or disappointment, but search and rescue takes precedence,” stated an email message from the U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday.
SANTA RITA, Guam—A U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point and crew are scheduled to hold a search and rescue demonstration in Saipan on March 20, 2023.
Residents can expect to see and hear the aircraft in the Saipan area from March 19 to March 20. The aircrew is forward deployed to Guam from Hawaii for six weeks serving the people of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands while working with U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam to assess the feasibility of more frequent operations in the islands.
- WHO: Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Cinque, aircraft commander, and the aircrew
- WHAT: Search and Rescue Demonstration
- WHEN: Monday, March 20, 2023, 9am to 9:30am
- WHERE: Outer Cove Dock, visitor parking at Smiling Cove Marina
The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter is a short-range recovery helicopter used by the crew to perform search and rescue, law enforcement, and homeland security missions. It is certified for all-weather and night-time operations, except for icy conditions, and it routinely deploys aboard certified cutters providing manned airborne surveillance and interdiction capabilities. The airframe was first added to the Coast Guard inventory in 1984 and has undergone several upgrades.
In recent memory, these operations mark the first deployment of a Dolphin helicopter crew to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The District 14 assigned aircraft are primarily used as a search and rescue platform in the Main Hawaiian Islands and as an augment aboard major cutters on deployment to extend their range for search and rescue, law enforcement, and surveillance while at sea. The aircrews frequently participate in community relations events and subject matter exchanges to build awareness for service capabilities and encourage interest in the aviation career field.
“The Dolphin here now is not a replacement for any other agency but another resource to help us accomplish our missions and serve the people of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands,” said Simmons. “They are currently here on a six-week deployment as we field test the feasibility of their operating here in a greater capacity. This approach is an innovative way to employ aircrews in the Indo-Pacific for increased presence and value. We hope to get them out here more frequently and are pleased to have the support of the Air Station and the District 14 command.”
The operations have precedent. In 1947 the service established a Coast Guard air detachment consisting of one PBY-6A Catalina—a flying boat and amphibious aircraft—and crew at the Naval Air Station, Agana, Guam, to provide aerial logistics support for LORAN stations in the southern Marianas and Western Caroline Islands. The Catalina was well suited to operations in the islands, able to haul cargo but also land in the shallow lagoons and offload to skiffs. The Coast Guard air detachment, by then called an air station, was disestablished in 1972 as LORAN missions changed and commercial air services were more readily available.
U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam comprises nearly 300 personnel throughout the response, prevention, administrative, and logistics departments supporting the Joint Rescue Sub-Center, three fast response cutters, a small boat station, and a marine safety detachment in Saipan. The unit provides a significant portion of the U.S. Coast Guard’s enduring regional presence serving the people of the Pacific by conducting our six major operational mission programs: maritime law enforcement, maritime response, maritime prevention, marine transportation system management, maritime security operations, and defense operations. (USCG)
Editor’s Note: This story was updated on March 19, 2023, to reflect the latest message from the U.S. Coast Guard about postponing this site visit to Saipan.