Air Station Humboldt Bay upgrades its helicopter fleet

MCKINLEYVILLE, Calif. – Coast Guard helicopters flying around Humboldt County will now be able to provide a more integrated response to search and rescue missions due to the arrival of the latest version of the HH-65 Dolphin helicopter.

The latest version of the Dolphin has been designated MH-65 to reflect its new multi-mission capabilities and it features several improvements that will allow the Coast Guard to better serve the Northern California public.

After-action reports following recent natural disasters and other emergency responses that involved multiple agencies identified specific difficulties with radio communications. Nearly all state, local, and federal emergency responders operate on different radio frequency bands. The upgraded Dolphin is equipped with an advanced communications suite which allows the helicopter’s operator to tune into the frequencies for local police, sheriff, fire and ambulance agencies. This increased capability will allow crews to communicate more readily with non-Coast Guard first responders and should improve overall mission effectiveness.

The new MH-65 also includes provisions and the required infrastructure for future upgrades including an electro-optical thermal imaging sensor and a night-vision integrated heads-up display.

Lost Coast residents might also notice that the new helicopter no longer arrives overhead with the distinctive whine of the HH-65’s 11-bladed shrouded Fenestron tail-rotor system. Due to parts availability and maintenance issues with the original system, the upgraded Dolphin features a new 10-bladed model which is noticeably more quiet and easier to maintain.

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