The US Coast Guard (USCG) announced that it’s searching for a new base of operations for helicopter crews serving the greater Los Angeles area. The current facility, which has been located in leased hangars and support buildings at Los Angeles International Airport since 1962, will no longer be available as of September 2016 due to airport expansion, USCG said.
“Planning for a new air station has been underway for some time,” the Coast Guard said, “but a location has not been chosen. Once a site is selected construction and outfitting of a new facility is expected to take several years. In the interim, Coast Guard air crews and helicopters will operate from what is known as a Forward Operating Base located at Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu in Oxnard.”
“We appreciate the assistance and support of the US Navy in establishing a Forward Operating Base to serve the region,” said Capt. Michael Eagle, chief of response operations for the 11th Coast Guard District. “The men and women of the Coast Guard will continue to provide outstanding service and protection to the maritime community and people of Southern California.”
“There will be no interruption of search and rescue, law enforcement and security coverage as we wrap up over a half-century of flying missions from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). I am confident our crews will uphold the Coast Guard’s long tradition of bravery, dedication, and public service,” Eagle said.
The Coast Guard said, “Two mission-ready aircraft and air crews plus support personnel will be based at the FOB, with additional aircraft and air crews from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco rotating for duty at the Ventura County facility as needed. FOB operations are slated to be phased in through April-May of 2016.”
Three of the MH-65D “Dolphin” helicopters currently based at LAX will be temporarily transferred to Air Station San Francisco, where they will receive major maintenance and support services. Air Station Los Angeles’ fourth helicopter is being transferred to Coast Guard Air Station Humboldt Bay.
Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles conducts an average of 130 search-and-rescue cases each year, while USCG helicopter patrols support interagency law enforcement, environmental protection and port security operations to protect the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and Port Hueneme.
In addition to the MH-65D Dolphin helicopters based in the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Humboldt Bay areas, the Coast Guard operates MH-60T “Jayhawk” helicopters out of San Diego, and long range HC-130 “Hercules” fixed-wing aircraft from Sacramento to provide air coverage of the California coastal area.
Photo: A MH-65C Dolphin helicopter from Coast Guard Air Station Los Angeles recently returned from Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, NC where it received "retro" paint colors to celebrate 25 years of the Coast Guard using the Dolphin helicopter. This Dolphin will continue service as the Coast Guard’s only Dolphin helicopter with a white paint job. Photo by Michael Darcy.