USCG aircrew engages with Guam police and US Navy
SANTA RITA, Guam—U.S. Coast Guard aircrew members conducted a subject matter exchange with members of the Guam Police Department Special Operations Division and fellow aviators from the U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 in Guam on March 10, 2023.
“We welcome the opportunity to increase interoperability among our partners here,” said Capt. Nick Simmons, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Forces Micronesia/Sector Guam. “A big part of our role here is to safeguard the people of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Ensuring our team has a strong understanding of the region, each agencies capability, and what resources can be brought to bear in any given situation is essential to our shared success.”
As with the recent hoist training conducted with the Guam Fire Department, the engagements allowed the crews to discuss the capabilities and procedures of each agency. Eleven members of the Guam Police Department Special Operations Division came to the hangar to share information and experiences with the aircrew of an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter deployed to Guam from U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point in Hawaii. The U.S. Coast Guard frequently partners with the division for search and rescue cases and law enforcement. Such events include the recent search for the missing hiker at Sella Bay and escorts of the two cruise ships that called on Guam.
Following the Guam Police Department visit, the aircrew hosted seven members of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25. While not a primary mission for the Navy, HSC-25 frequently partners with the U.S. Coast Guard and local agencies to conduct search and rescue in and around Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. HSC-25 members took part in several cases over the last six weeks including the Sella Bay hiker search, the search for the missing diver off Guam’s westside, and the motor vessel Senor Dung, which sank between Guam and Rota, forcing the three men aboard to abandon ship.
U.S. Coast Guard enlisted aircrews not only stand flight duty, but also maintain their aircraft. Throughout the day, the crew conducted their regular maintenance on the aircraft. Various schedules are kept ensuring the helicopter is ready to fly. This maintenance was part of what is done every seven-days and is essentially an extended post flight inspection looking for wear and tear and anything out of place.
The MH-65 Dolphin helicopter is a short-range recovery helicopter used 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. 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.
“It’s always a pleasure getting to work with other government agencies and our counterparts at HSC-25,” said Lt. Ryan Brown, U.S. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot. “We appreciate the hospitality everyone in Guam has shown and look forward to continuing our work together in the future.”
The aircrew’s operations have precedent. In 1947 the service established a Coast Guard air detachment consisting of one PBY-6A Catalina, an amphibious aircraft, and crew at the Naval Air Station in 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. Their primary mission was to resupply the Marianas Section LORAN stations, although they did assist in search and rescue. The unit disestablished in 1972, as the need for Coast Guard air support to the LORAN mission decreased and commercial aviation service availability improved.
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.