This past summer was a monumental season of change for Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City. Since 1946, the Coast Guard air station has protected and served the Great Lakes region and surrounding area, playing host to numerous types of aircraft throughout its history, including the familiar MH-65 Dolphin helicopter, active in Traverse City since 1995.
After many months of careful deliberation, strategic planning, and thoughtful execution, the air station officially swapped out their four MH-65 Dolphins this summer for three MH-60 Jayhawks. This transition will enhance the unit’s search and rescue capabilities tremendously. With a longer flight range and larger cabin, the MH-60 is better suited for the harsh conditions and rigorous demands of the Great Lakes, and is a valuable asset for neighboring communities and districts across the region.
Although the Jayhawk and Dolphin boast similar color patterns (orange and white), the Jayhawk is nearly twice the size – capable of transporting up to 15 people – and has a maximum fuel range of 700 nautical miles. For comparison, the Dolphin could only transports up to 5 people and had a maximum flight range of 375 nautical miles. Unlike the Dolphin, the Jayhawk is also equipped with anti-icing technology, making inclement winter weather less of an issue when conducting search and rescue missions.
In a nutshell, the MH-60 Jayhawk enables the Coast Guard to complete search and rescue missions much more quickly and efficiently. In situations where human lives are at risk, time and efficiency are critical.
As for the old MH-65 Dolphins? Two of the aircraft were sent to the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron in Jacksonville, Florida where they support national counter drug operations. Another was transferred to the Coast Guard Aviation Training Facility in Mobile, Alabama and the other will be assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey.
With the transition comes a brand new fleet of Coast Guard families. As one MH-65 flight mechanic moves away, another MH-60 flight mechanic takes their place, and so on and so forth. It’s was a season of change for the entire community, as the familiar hum of the MH-65 Dolphin fades and the roar of the MH-60 Jayhawk takes its place.
Today, a more powerful, more capable Coast Guard aircraft guards the Great Lakes region, and we proudly welcome the Jayhawk and the brave men and women who serve to the Traverse City family.
Did you spot the new MH-60 in the skies over Traverse City this summer? Let us know in the comments!