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 carried out over 400 search and rescue missions, saving 35 lives, assisting 500 persons, and saved property valued at over $2 million.
In July of
2010 the Coast Guard realigned Operational and Support
commands consolidating several mission sets into one
area command known as Sectors. With this organizational
change, the Group was became known as
Air Station/Sector Field Office
Port Angeles and operational command of all
units located in the waters of Puget Sound and the
northern coast of Washington was transferred to Sector
Puget Sound. The Air Station/Sector Field Office
operates and supports the Air Station and it's three
attached MH-65D Aircraft and also provides logistical
support (Supply, Administrative, Medical, and
Engineering) to the former Group Units Station Neah Bay,
Station Port Angeles, Station Quillayute River, USCGC
ADELIE, USCGC CUTTYHUNK, USCGC OSPREY, USCGC SWORDFISH,
and USCGC WAHOO.
The H-65 Dolphin has been in the Coast Guard’s inventory since 1984. Expected to remain in service through 2027, the Coast Guard is upgrading the helicopters with state-of-the-market enhancements that will extend mission capabilities and improve their reliability and maintainability. The conversion and sustainment project adds digital technology, including GPS and inertial navigation, flight control, weather radar and cockpit instruments. Since 2007, the entire fleet has been equipped with new engines that add 40 percent more power and airborne use of force capabilities, re-designating the aircraft MH-65s. 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. 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.