On Sept. 4, a Coast Guard HC-130H “Hercules” Long Range Surveillance Aircraft located and identified three people atop an overturned 15 foot boat in choppy waters 47 nautical miles northwest of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic using a newly installed Selex Seaspray 7500E radar system.
The 15 foot boat was carrying four passengers from the Dominican Republic en route to Puerto Rico when it became disabled and eventually capsized, separating the fourth passenger from the boat. After receiving a request for assistance in the case from the Dominican Navy, the Coast Guard launched CG-1719 from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater at 10:30 AM local time. Using the Selex radar system, the HC-130H aircrew located the capsized boat at 2:36 PM local time and vectored a Coast Guard HH65C Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Bourinquen to the scene. The aircrew was also able to locate a Good Samaritan vessel, the cruise ship Carnival Destiny, in the area and identify it using the Automatic Identification System (AIS) integrated with the Selex radar. The Carnival Destiny agreed to assist where necessary and observed the rescue. The three passengers were returned to the Dominican Republic, where they received medical treatment for severe dehydration. They had been in the water for approximately five days. Further attempts to locate the fourth passenger were conducted by a Coast Guard HH-65C Dolphin and HU-25 Falcon jet with negative results. The Coast Guard suspended its search the evening of Sept. 5.
The Seaspray 7500E, built by Selex Galileo of Edinburgh, U.K., is a state-of-the-market, active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar that provides enhanced capabilities including higher resolution and greater reliability than its aged, unreliable and unsupportable predecessor, the APS-137 radar. The 7500E prototype was installed by Selex on the first Coast Guard HC-130H in February 2007 and following an extensive and successful period of developmental and operational testing the Coast Guard made the decision to install the Seaspray 7500E radar on its remaining 16 HC-130H aircraft. Total value of this project is estimated at $49 million.
Production installation of the Seaspray 7500E is being accomplished at the Selex facility in Kiln, Miss. and is scheduled to be completed on all Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft, at the rate of one approximately every 30 days by the first quarter of fiscal year 2010.
For more information: HC-130H/J Long Range Surveillance Aircraft project page