On August 8, 2009, the Coast Guard’s first production MH-60T “Jayhawk” helicopter (tail number CG 6028) completed its first search and rescue operation off the North Carolina coast.
During a training flight from Air Station Elizabeth City, N.C. on the morning of August 8, the crew of CG 6028 was diverted to assist a scuba diver suffering from symptoms of decompression sickness following a dive from a 30-foot boat off the coast of Wilmington, N.C. Using the MH-60T’s enhanced communications range and capabilities, the crew was able to facilitate early clearances into restricted airspace from air traffic controllers while maintaining radio contact with both Coast Guard Sector North Carolina and Air Station Elizabeth City. While en route to the rescue scene, Sector North Carolina personnel determined that Duke University Medical Center, approximately 150 miles from the diver’s location, was the best option for treating the decompression sickness.
Upon arrival on scene, the CG 6028’s rescue swimmer assisted the diver into a basket then hoisted him aboard the MH-60T. In transit, the MH-60T crew conferenced via radio with Sector North Carolina and Duke University Medical Center; making advance arrangements to receive and treat the diver.
While en route back to Air Station Elizabeth City, the CG 6028 crew was diverted to Wrightsville Beach, in the Wilmington area, to assist other Coast Guard units and local responders in another search and rescue case for a missing swimmer.
The Coast Guard Acquisition Directorate’s H-60 Project office and the Coast Guard Aviation Logistics Center delivered CG 6028 to Air Station Elizabeth City in June 2009. Air Station Elizabeth City will be home to the first operational MH-60T unit (five aircraft) by the end of 2009. All 42 H-60 aircraft are anticipated to have their communications range and capabilities modernized by 2014.