USCGAS Clearwater editorial by Ralph Williams
Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater is located on the west coast of Florida in Pinellas County in between the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport. Besides its main location, the air station also operates two aviation facilities in the Bahamas, one at Great Inagua and another at the U.S. Navy’s AUTEC installation at Andros Island to support counter-narcotics and migrant smuggling interdiction operations under Operations Bahamas, Turks and Caicos (OPBAT). In addition to these operations, the air station deploys HC-130s in support of Joint Interagency Task Force (JIATF) operations in the Caribbean as well as the search and rescue operations that an air station performs. To accommodate this large task load, the air station deploys 13 helicopters and 5 HC-130 aircraft. The Coast Guard motto is Semper Paratus which means “Always Ready.” Because the air station is called on to perform operations such as rescue at sea on a regular basis, this air station remains very busy. The saying "life goes on" has a different meaning when referring to the Coast Guard and their life saving responses to emergencies. The tasks the Coast Guard performs now are the results of its history of combining four U.S. Government agencies, the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, the U.S. Life Saving Service, the U.S. Lighthouse Service, and the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation. These origins reflect the Coast Guard’s current missions.
Coast Guard Hardware
CGAS Clearwater has many air assets at its location. The assets used to accomplish its missions include medium range helicopters, the Sikorsky MH-60T Jayhawk, these helicopters are designed to fly a crew of four up to 300 miles offshore, able to hoist an additional six people onboard while remaining on scene up to 45 minutes and be able to return to base. The aircraft is capable of reaching 207 miles per hour and its normal cruising speed is 155 miles per hour. In addition to their search and rescue missions, these helicopters are used in security missions such as in 2003 for Operation Enduring Freedom and for drug patrol and enforcement missions working in conjunction with Coast Guard cutters. The aircraft deployed at CGAS Clearwater are the HC-130. These are 4 engine turboprop long range aircraft that are used for search and rescue, enforcement of laws and treaties, illegal drug interdiction, marine environmental protection, military readiness, as well as cargo and personnel transport. They have a range of 4,500 miles and a cruising speed of 330 miles per hour.
Facilities and Way of Life
Facilities available at Coast Guard bases are generally limited to serve the size of the command’s needs. Personnel assigned to CGAS Clearwater have access to the nearby MacDill AFB, which is about 20 miles away. These facilities include two golf courses, a marina, a bowling alley, gym and recreational sports facilities, a full-sized exchange, a commissary, and all hands clubs. The area is home to many popular beaches such as Clearwater Beach and St. Petersburg Beach and the large cities of St. Petersburg and Tampa. Its location offers personnel a wide range of recreation opportunities during their off time from their busy workdays.
U.S Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater is in the sunny area of Clearwater, Florida, on Florida’s Sun Coast. A desirable destination to serve at, the area also attracts visitors from around the world with its gorgeous beaches. With a busy work area covering most of the Southeastern U.S.A. and the Caribbean, those who serve here do a great service to the safety and security of our nation.