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HC-144s provide post-hurricane communications, damage assessment, cargo transport


Rep. Brian Mast of Florida’s 18th District looks out the tail of an Air Station Miami HC-144

Rep. Brian Mast of Florida’s 18th District looks out the tail of an Air Station Miami HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft off the coast of Marathon, Florida, Sept. 12, 2017. Mast flew with the Coast Guard as it assessed the area after Hurricane Irma. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Mark Barney.

The HC-144 Ocean Sentry medium range surveillance aircraft have showcased their multi-mission capabilities as the aircraft deployed from across the country to aid in hurricane response.

HC-144s are stationed at Air Station Cape Cod, Massachusetts; Air Station Miami; Aviation Training Center (ATC) Mobile, Alabama; and Sector Corpus Christi. Aircraft from all four stations have participated in hurricane response operations.

Shortly after Hurricane Harvey struck and knocked out communications towers, HC-144s flew over Houston and then Beaumont, Texas, to relay communications from the Coast Guard command center in Houston to search and rescue air platforms. Aircrews led by Air Station Miami personnel coordinated rescues and evacuations of more than 600 people from Aug. 30-31 alone.

The HC-144s also conducted damage assessment following both hurricanes to inform the Coast Guard’s timeline for reopening ports and waterways. In addition, they transported cargo and provided transportation and a firsthand view of affected areas for government officials and senior Coast Guard leaders to better coordinate with federal, state and local partners.

The 18-aircraft fleet is undergoing two types of upgrades. The Ocean Sentry Refresh provides each aircraft with a new cockpit control and display unit, used in flight management for communications control, navigation and equipment monitoring. Each aircraft is redesignated as an HC-144B upon completion.

The aircraft are also undergoing Minotaur mission system integration, which will improve integration of imagery and data from the aircraft’s multiple sensor streams, allowing operators to track targets and transmit information to other platforms and units. The prototype Minotaur HC-144B was delivered to ATC Mobile in July and participated in Hurricane Irma response.

The Coast Guard will combine Minotaur and Ocean Sentry Refresh modifications into a single conversion process in fiscal year 2018.

For more information: Medium Range Surveillance Aircraft program page