450 search and rescue cases. 591 people in distress. 83 saved lives. Sound like a lot to handle? These numbers are just a snap shot of the annual missions carried out by personnel assigned to Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas. With this level of responsibility, it is only fitting that the air station recently received their first HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft, the newest aircraft in the Coast Guard fleet.
These new aircraft are becoming the Coast Guard’s primary maritime patrol aircraft, replacing an aging fleet of jets, the HU-25 Guardian. The Ocean Sentry can be configured to carry 40 passengers, up to 9,400 pounds of cargo or can be configured to carry litters for medical patients, making it an ideal aircraft for various operational needs. The introduction of these aircraft to Air Station Corpus Christi marks the beginning of the Coast Guard’s modernization of the maritime law enforcement and search and rescue fleet in south Texas. “The HC-144 Ocean Sentry is a great investment for the nation,” said Capt. Samuel Creech, commanding officer of Air Station Corpus Christi. “America’s Coast Guard men and women need this aircraft to stop human and narcotics smuggling in this critical maritime border region. We need it to protect our waters from illegal foreign fishing. We need it to protect the professional mariners in the off-shore petroleum industry and commercial fishing industry.” Capable of remaining in flight in excess of nine hours, it doubles that of the hours for the legacy HU-25 Falcon. This greater endurance allows Coast Guard aircrews to remain on-scene longer, adding value to the execution of law enforcement, marine and environmental response and search and rescue missions. This heightened endurance will be crucial for aircrews at Air Station Corpus Christi. With an area of responsibility that stretches 23,000 miles along the Gulf Coast and along the adjoining inland waterways, aircrews never know where a call will originate. Two additional Ocean Sentry’s will soon arrive at the air station, allowing the aircrews a state-of-the-art platform to carry out their every day missions. “The technology and endurance of the HC-144 Ocean Sentry will allow us save lives and protect American waters with a state of the art aircraft,” added Creech. “Our citizens and the Coast Guard men and women who fly into harm’s way deserve nothing less.”