The Coast Guard’s presence in Port Angeles began 136 years ago on August 1, 1862 with the arrival of the SHUBRICK, the first Revenue Cutter to be home ported on the Olympic Peninsula. Ediz Hook, a level sand spit extending from the mainland north and east into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, was declared a Federal Lighthouse Reservation by President Lincoln in 1863. The first lighthouse was commissioned on 1 April 1865. The Air Station was commissioned on 1 June 1935, becoming the first permanent Coast Guard Air Station on the Pacific Coast. Its location was chosen for it’s strategic position for coastal defense of the Northwest. The first aircraft, a Douglas RD-4 amphibian, arrived 11 June 1935 and flew the first "mercy hop" on August 1935. The 75-foot patrol boats were also stationed at the new unit.
During WWII, the Air Station expanded to include a gunnery school training aerial gunners and local defense forces. A short runway was added to train Navy pilots for carrier landings. It also hosted independent units such as Naval Intelligence and was Headquarters of the Air Sea Rescue System for the Northwest Sea Frontier Area. By the end of 1944, the Air Station had 29 aircraft assigned.
In September 1944 the station officially became Coast Guard Group Port Angeles, with several sub-units. Today, Group Port Angeles is comprised of the Air Station, Station Bellingham, Station Neah Bay, Station Port Angeles, Station Quillayute River, USCGC ADELIE, USCGC BLUE SHARK, USCGC CUTTYHUNK, USCGC OSPREY, USCGC SEA LION, USCGC SWORDFISH, USCGC TERRAPIN, and USCGC WAHOO.
In 1946, the first helicopter, a Sikorsky HO3S-1G arrived. This was replaced in 1951 with the Sikorsky HO4S helicopter (the "Eggbeater"). The last fixed wing aircraft, the Grumman HU-16E Albatross (the "Goat") was retired in 1973. Since then the Air Station has been home to helicopters only, starting with the HH-52A Seaguard, first acquired in 1965. The HH-52A was replaced in 1988 with the new American Eurocopter HH-65A Dolphin twin turbine helicopter. During a typical year, Group Port Angeles units carry out over 400 search and rescue missions, saving 35 lives and assisting 500 persons. Each year, property valued at over $2 million is saved. Coast Guard Group and Air Station Port Angeles continues its untiring vigil, true to the Coast Guards motto "Semper Paratus" ( Always Ready ). On 30 JUL 2010, Group/Air Station Port Angeles was reorganized into Air Station Sector Field Office Port Angeles. The Sector Field Office logistically supports Station Neah Bay, Station Port Angeles, Station Quillayute River, USCGC ACTIVE, USCGC ADELIE, USCGC CUTTYHUNK, USCGC OSPREY, USCGC SWORDFISH, and USCGC WAHOO.
The MH-65C Dolphin is the Coast Guard’s Short Range Recovery (SRR) Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter. It was manufactured by American Eurocopter Corporation. The Coast Guard has 90 Dolphins in service. The Distinctive shrouded tail rotor (fenestron) offers performance and increased safety for ground and shipboard operations. Also a unique feature of the Dolphin is its computerized flight management system which integrates state-of-the-art communications and navigation equipment. This system provides automatic flight control. At the pilot's direction, the system will bring the aircraft to a stable hover 50 feet above a selected object. This is an important safety feature in darkness or inclement weather. Selected search patterns can be flown automatically, freeing the pilot and copilot to concentrate on sighting the search object. The MH-65C's operational equipment suite exceeds anything previously packaged into one helicopter weighing less than 10,000 pounds. Though normally stationed ashore, the Dolphin may be deployed on board flight deck equipped Coast Guard and Navy vessels. Missions flown by the Dolphin include SAR, law enforcement, including drug interdiction and fisheries patrol, marine environmental protection, military readiness, logistic support for aids to navigation servicing, and many others. The twin engine Dolphin operates up to 150 miles off shore with a normal crew compliment is 2 pilots, 1 flight mechanic/hoist operator, and one rescue swimmer.