“Coast Guard delivers 14th Minotaur-missionized HC-144 to fleet” –CG-9

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.

Below is a story from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9). 14 of 18 HC-144s have been missionized with Minotaur. The statement, “The aircraft will be based at Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the first of three to be stationed there” refers only to the “B” model with Minotaur. Three HC-144As were already there and are being replaced by the upgraded aircraft.


The Coast Guard completed work on its 14th HC-144B Ocean Sentry medium range surveillance aircraft outfitted with both the Ocean Sentry Refresh (OSR) modifications and the Minotaur mission system Jan. 17. Modifications to CGNR 2318 were completed at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The aircraft will be based at Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the first of three to be stationed there.

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 15th HC-144 is scheduled for later this year. Air Station Miami completed transition to the upgraded aircraft in 2022 and Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas, transitioned in 2019. The service plans to upgrade each of the service’s 18 HC-144s by the end of 2024, with transition of Air Station Cape Cod and Aviation Training Center Mobile, Alabama.

For more information: Medium Range Surveillance Program page and Minotaur Program page

“MH-65 upgrades were invaluable to mission success in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian” –CG-9

The report below is from the CG-9 website

MH-65 upgrades were invaluable to mission success in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian

Air Station Miami crew during Hurricane Ian

The Air Station Miami crew evacuates a person in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian. In addition to Air Station Miami’s MH-65Es and HC-144Bs, the coordinated rescue included one MH-65E from Air Station Houston and two MH-65Ds from Air Station Savannah. Total statistics for the coordinated rescue: 46 lives saved, 36 lives assisted and 19 pets saved. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Air Station Miami.


Hurricane Ian caused nearly 150 fatalities when it swept through Florida in late September 2022 and has been cited as the deadliest hurricane to hit Florida since 1935. In the search and rescue efforts that followed, Air Station Miami crewmembers played a pivotal role in rescuing both human and animal survivors. According to the pilots, upgrades on the Coast Guard’s MH-65E proved vital during multiple rescue missions. In the days following the storm they were faced with harried conditions when fuel stops were limited, communications were intermittent and lives depended on the speed and awareness of the crew.

The upgraded MH-65E, or Echo, sports an all-glass cockpit and Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) that replaced legacy analog components. The new system aligns with Federal Aviation Administration next-generation requirements that call for performance and space-based navigation and surveillance, allowing for more three-dimensional approaches and flight patterns as well as higher visibility of the helicopter by other on-scene aircraft.

Integral to the CAAS is the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast, or ADS-B, which allowed command aircraft (both Coast Guard HC-144 and Navy P-3) to track the MH-65E even when it was no longer visible to the crews. The moving map on the pilot screens can be overlayed with the traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), which helps deconflict airspace with multiple aircraft maneuvering in tight quarters. The display can be placed across four multi-function display (MFD) screens and is accessible to both pilots.

“The TCAS was immensely helpful, especially being able to use the moving map overlay,” said Lt. Audra Forteza. “There were so many aircraft in the area, both military and civilian, and not everyone was making traffic calls as they should be – the TCAS allowed us to quickly and efficiently find the most imminent threat and maneuver to maintain separation. Knowing where exactly to look for a target made identification much faster and allowed us to focus on the mission at hand vice continually searching for other aircraft.”

The crewmembers were equally impressed by the bingo fuel alerts, an aviator term used to describe the minimum fuel an aircraft requires to land safely at its designated landing site. Fuel stops were severely limited because of widespread power outages on the ground. This meant that finding an airport with a generator strong enough to facilitate refueling was largely based on recommendations from other parties in communication with the aircrews. “Word of mouth was key to success for aircrews operating the area to determine which airports had fuel,” Forteza said. “And the people at the airfields were extremely accommodating in getting crews food, fuel, water and bathrooms.”

The MFD screens were also very useful when it came to hoisting survivors out of difficult situations while maintaining situational awareness and control of the aircraft. Forteza was able to monitor her co-pilot safely and effectively while they operated the hoist in a series of challenging urban environment rescues over the course of several days.

Additionally, utilizing the upgraded radar weather mode allowed for safe navigation between hurricane bands as the crews searched for survivors by painting a clearer, more accurate picture of the evolving weather situation even when their in-flight tablets did not have reception. In response to Hurricane Ian, Air Station Miami pilots flew a total of 46 hours over several days. Forteza and Lt. Danielle Benedetto personally contributed to saving the lives of 16 people, as well as five cats and three dogs. The air station fully transitioned to the MH-65E in July 2021.

Air Station Miami crew

Air Station Miami crew, from left: Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Kilbane, Petty Officer 2nd Class Nick Rodriguez, Lt. Audra Forteza and Lt. Danielle Benedetto. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Live shots taken by Minotaur-equipped HC-144

Live shots of Hurricane Ian damage taken by Minotaur-equipped HC-144 aircraft were used to support the Incident Management Team. U.S. Coast Guard photos.

MH-65E transition
The Coast Guard has completed 52 out of 98 total conversions including avionics upgrades to the Echo configuration and Service Life Extension work. Air stations that have completed the transition and number of aircraft:

Houston 3
Miami 5
Port Angeles, WA 3
Barbers Point, HI 4
North Bend, OR 5
Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron 12
Humboldt Bay, CA 3
San Francisco 7

Next up for conversion are Atlantic City, N.J., and Savannah, GA

For more information: MH-65 Short Range Recovery Helicopter Program page and Minotaur Mission System Program page

“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.