COAST GUARD AIR STATION
Originally commissioned in July 1955 and located on Lake Pontchartrain, Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans came to its present home at NAS JRB in December 1957.
Rededicated in September 1996, the Air Station’s facilities provide maintenance for five MH-65D helicopters; supply and support spaces for 28 officers, 86 enlisted and three civilians; and quarters for two flight-ready crews 24/7. Airframes flown by the Coast Guard in New Orleans have included the HO-3S, HO-4S, HUS-1G, HH-52A and the HH-3F Pelican helicopter.
In September 1985, Air Station New Orleans became the first unit in the Coast Guard to fly the HH-65A Dolphin in operational missions and again led the fleet in being first among Coast Guard Air Stations to upgrade to the HH-65B. In 2006, those helicopters were upgraded to the more powerful HH-65C.
In summer 2013, Air Station New Orleans helicopters were upgraded to the MH-65D. Having a top speed of 175 knots, the MH-65D incorporates an upgraded avionics package and replacement of obsolete components.
The twin turbine helicopter has an operational radius of 150 nautical miles, with 30 minutes on-scene time. Flown by a crew of four, including two pilots, one flight mechanic and a rescue swimmer/EMT, the MH-65D has a total gross weight limitation of 9,480 pounds.
Today, Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans’ responsibilities include an area from Apalachicola, Florida, to the Texas-Louisiana border, north to Memphis, Tennessee, and south to thousands of offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
Within this area, the air station’s missions include homeland security, search and rescue, law enforcement, marine environmental protection and aids to navigation. To meet these demanding missions, the air station maintains two ready crews at all times and annually flies more than 3,200 hours.
Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans was the first air station to integrate into a Coast Guard Sector organization with the inception of Coast Guard Sector New Orleans, led by Marine Safety Office New Orleans and including Group New Orleans. With an emphasis on mission effectiveness, the sector concept is an integral component of the Coast Guard’s future command and control organization.
Air Station New Orleans’ personnel have developed strong relationships with multiple government agencies including the FBI, Secret Service and state and local law enforcement. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans has served as the Coast Guard’s flagship unit, introducing new HLS operational capabilities such as joint USCG/FBI SWAT team interoperability and including the first FBI live fire sniper training from a USCG HH-65B helicopter.
In addition, Air Station New Orleans led the USCG in the development and implementation of vertical delivery (hoist delivery) of USCG boarding teams to vessels at sea, a capability now used frequently with other units throughout the Coast Guard.
Air Station New Orleans is one of only five Coast Guard Air Stations that maintains a proficiency in rotary wing air interception to support the National Capital Region (NCR) air defense. The Coast Guard, a member of the Department of Homeland Security since 2003, works directly under the direction of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and alongside other federal, state and local agencies to ensure the restricted airspace around the capital is secure.
Air Station New Orleans not only supports the NCR mission with pilots and aircrew but also supports other National Special Security Events throughout the country that require rapid response capabilities.
In 2005, following the passage of Hurricane Katrina, Air Station New Orleans briefly became Air Group New Orleans supporting fleetwide rotor and fixed-wing air operations. Coast Guard helicopters flew more than 500 flight hours and hoisted more than 7,100 people to safety during both hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
On April 21, 2010, Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans aircrews were the first to respond to the explosion of the oil rig Deepwater Horizon 50 miles south of Venice, Louisiana. The massive fire left 126 people in need of rescue. Leading the response, New Orleans aircrews worked throughout the night and, together with Coast Guard teams from Mobile, Alabama, and civilian response teams, rescued 115 people, including 17 who were critically injured.
In 2015, Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans flew 271 SAR operations, saving 51 people and assisting 78 others while saving $863,175 in property. In 2016, Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans flew 286 SAR operations, saving or assisting 419 lives.
A majority of the lives saved or assisted during 2016 were a result of historic flooding in Baton Rouge, in which Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans supported search and rescue for an area covering more than 100 square miles over a seven-day period. Crews worked in partnership with numerous agencies through unusual conditions to overcome the disaster and evacuate those in need of assistance.
In 2017, Air Station New Orleans responded to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; in support of Harvey alone, the unit deployed three aircraft and 51 personnel to Houston and orchestrated rescue operations in Beaumont, Texas, as well as served as the logistics and maintenance hub for aircraft, personnel and supplies inbound for the operation area. These efforts directly saved 863 lives and assisted 366 others, contributing to the more than 11,000 lives saved by the United States Coast Guard in this natural disaster.
Since its establishment in 1955, Air Station New Orleans has saved more than 13,000 lives and is considered to be the busiest all-helicopter SAR unit in the Coast Guard.
Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans has been awarded 12 Meritorious Unit Commendations for its superior performance during rescue operations as well as five Coast Guard Unit Commendations for exceptional operational performance.