Info Request–MH-68

I have received a request for information on past Coast Guard operations that I could not answer, but perhaps a reader could help:

I wonder if you can help me out. I’m just conducting some research into the embarked operation of the A109 (MH-68A in USCG speak) at sea. I am trying to find out if the USCG ever embarked the MH-68A for extended periods and, if they did, were the main rotor blades of the helicopter folded to allow it to be stowed in the ship’s hangar? Do you know if this was the case? Or did they remain on deck? Or completely remove the blades each time the aircraft was stowed?

I believe the Philippine Navy is operating this aircraft off their 378s now.

Just for fun, I added the video above. It does not show the aircraft being hangared, but it does show the boots used over the rotor tips to keep them from flapping in the wind, when the helo was secured on the flight deck. Beside it includes one of my favorite 378 COs.

Anyone know if the MH-68 was ever hangared on shipboard?


9 thoughts on “Info Request–MH-68

  1. They deployed for 60-90 days at a time, the same lengths of time the MH-65 deploys now. The blades were fixed and was kept on deck. It was significantly smaller than the 65. Urban Legend/rumor has it they are still sitting in a warehouse in NJ with their CG paint because no is willing to pay the price to lease them. Wouldn’t it be great if we still had them? The answer is yes!

  2. Gidday from Down Under,

    Piero – How was that for maintenance? Helicopters ‘love’ salt water so they must be trashed now after spending all that time on deck. That is probably why no one is prepared to lease them! Do you have any photos of the MH-68 on deck or in the hangar?

    Chuck – Thanks for posting my question. Much appreciated.

    Regards, BuddhsNZ

    • When operating a helicopter from a cutter, we did a lot of fresh water washdowns.

      The video includes some scenes of the plane tied down on deck and of the tie downs being released.

      Not that I have any experience with the MH-68, but otherwise, not uncommon to do two flights a day. One morning, one evening.

  3. A Google image search for MH-68 will do the trick for pics of the helo on deck. It wouldn’t fit in the hangar at all due to the blades. Keeping any helo on deck isn’t good for maintenance. With that said, plenty of ships/cutters lack hangars all together, e.g., WMEC-210s and flight 1 DDGs. Hope that helps.

    • Original concept on the 210s was that they would be “lily pads” that would extend the reach of land based helos, but subsequently we began embarking them for extended periods. I was on Confidence, a 210, when it was stationed in Alaska and we took an H-52 aboard for a patrol. If I remember correctly, the conclusion was that it was not worth it, but it was really a very small ship to attempt helo ops in those conditions.

  4. We operate the SH-2G on our frigates, but stow them after each flight. Likewise – lots of freshwater washdowns! I’m interested in the maintenance burden of leaving the MH-68 out on deck and how hard it was to remove the blades at sea when you did want to stow the bird. Any ex-maintenance folk out there?

      • On Resolute (and later Alert) we generally had a 65 on board for every WOC (Washington/Oregon/California) patrol and when we did an Alpat. I think the blades may have been removed one time when a storm rolled in before they could RTB or the deck was already out of specs for launch, but for the most part if it was going to get nasty they’d head in to North Bend, Astoria or Port Angeles for the storm to blow over. Fresh water washdown after most flights, we had great engineers and hearty watermakers so they kept up no problem.

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