“Coast Guard delivers ninth Minotaur-missionized HC-144 to fleet” –CG-9

CGNR 2310 departs for its second test flight after completing Minotaur missionization. It is the Coast Guard’s ninth HC-144B Ocean Sentry outfitted with both Ocean Sentry Refresh modifications and the Minotaur mission system. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Aviation Engineering Warrant Officer 3 Randy Jopp.

The Acquisitions Directorate, CG-9 reports,

The Coast Guard accepted delivery of its ninth HC-144B Ocean Sentry medium range surveillance aircraft outfitted with both the Ocean Sentry Refresh (OSR) modifications and the Minotaur mission system Dec. 16, 2020. Modifications to CGNR 2310 were completed at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The aircraft will be based at Coast Guard Air Station Miami.

The OSR project upgrades the aircraft with a new flight management system, which manages communication control, navigation and equipment monitoring. After the OSR upgrade is completed, each aircraft is redesignated as an HC-144B.

Minotaur integrates installed sensors and radar and provides dramatically improved data fusion as well as information processing and sharing capabilities.

Completion of missionization and upgrade of a 10th HC-144 is scheduled for June 2021. The service plans to upgrade each of the service’s 18 HC-144s by 2024.

For more information: HC-144 program page and Minotaur program page

New Minotaur operator workstations are being installed on all HC-144Bs. Minotaur provides dramatically improved data fusion and integrates installed sensors and radar. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Aviation Engineering Warrant Officer 3 Randy Jopp.

“COAST GUARD  Actions Needed to  Close Stations  Identified as  Overlapping and  Unnecessarily  Duplicative” –GAO

U.S. Coast Guard Station Shark River 28SEP14

The Federal Register /Vol. 85, No. 31/Friday, February 14, 2020/Notices reports that the Coast Guard is considering closing five stations and has asked for public comment. This is in response to GAO report 18-9, Oct. 2017,”COAST GUARD  Actions Needed to  Close Stations  Identified as  Overlapping and  Unnecessarily  Duplicative.”

Stations Oxford, MD; Fishers Island, NY; Shark River, NJ; Roosevelt Inlet, DE; and Salem, NJ have been identified for consolidation with neighboring stations.

“In October of 2017, the Government Accountability Office issued report GAO–18–9, titled ‘‘Actions Needed to Close Stations Identified as Overlapping and Unnecessarily Duplicative.’’ This GAO report recommended the consolidation of eighteen boat stations. Due to environmental and operational factors, the Coast Guard is not considering all eighteen boat stations identified in the GAO report for consolidation. Instead, we anticipate consolidating five stations, with implementation notionally scheduled for fiscal year 2021. These stations have been identified because there are other units nearby capable of responding to cases in these areas, and because these five stations respond to a low number of cases. We do not anticipate any adverse effect on Coast Guard response capability. We expect an improvement to the proficiency of boat operators as well as a less complicated response system. “

It is by no means certain that these five stations will be closed. The GAO report notes that the Coast Guard has a long history of failed attempts to close stations that appeared redundant.

The GAO noted that the Coast Guard has good criteria for determining which SAR boat stations should be closed, but that while it has some data based criteria for Air Stations it was not as rigorous as that for the small boat stations.

Actually looking at Figure 6: “Map of Coast Guard Helicopter Coverage as of August 2017” on page 24 of the GAO report, while there are areas of overlap off Washington State, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Delaware and over Lake Michigan, there are also apparent gaps between LA and San Franciso, at the Florida panhandle, and over Lake Superior.

When the Coast Guard gets its next generation aircraft, including, hopefully, products of the Future Vertical Lift program that is expected to double the range and speed of vertical takeoff aircraft, we are going to need to take a fresh look at the number and  location of Coast Guard Air Stations.

Credit BryMarConsulting for bringing this to my attention.