History and Mission


Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco was completed on February 15, 1941.  The Air Station operated a PBY-5 Catalina and two RD-4 Dolphins.  On November 1, 1941, the aircraft and personnel were placed under Navy command where they continued to conduct Search and Rescue and Coastal Patrols through the end of World War II.  Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco was also tasked with aiding in the construction of the highly classified and secret Long Range Navigation (LORAN) stations in the North Pacific in 1943.  Proving an invaluable asset in this important mission, the San Francisco based PBY-5 Catalina was instrumental in the completion of the Aleutian LORAN chain by transporting personnel, supplies and building materials.

After World War II, the Air Station resumed normal operations under Coast Guard tactical control after release from the Navy on June 30, 1946.  The first helicopter stationed in San Francisco was the HO3S-1 Dragonfly in 1947.  In the early fifties, the Grumman HU-16E Albatross replaced the Air Station’s aging WWII fixed wing inventory.  This general-purpose amphibian, affectionately known as the "Goat," proved to be a highly adaptable platform for SAR and LE.  Eventually, the Air Station received the HH-52A Sea Guard helicopter in 1963. Also stationed at San Francisco were the C-130 long-range search and transport aircraft.  The C-130s were moved to the newly constructed Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento in 1978, ending 37 years of Coast Guard fixed wing aviation presence in San Francisco.  In 1991, Air Station San Francisco received its first HH-60 Jayhawk to replace the H-3 Pelican as the medium range Search and Rescue Helicopter.  Restructuring in Coast Guard Aviation led to a short stay of the HH-60 in San Francisco; in June of 1996, four HH-65s were moved to San Francisco from San Diego.
Over the next several years, the air station transitioned to newer model aircraft with the HH-65B in the fall of 2001, the HH-65C in 2006, the MH-65C in the fall of 2008, and finally the MH-65D in the fall of 2012. These changes brought significant upgrades in engine performance, avionics, armament, and navigation. The most significant change to Air Station San Francisco in the last two decades occurred in May 2016 with the opening of Forward Operating Base Point Mugu in Ventura, CA. After 54 years of honorable service, Air Station Los Angeles closed its hangar doors as Air Station San Francisco assumed the watch, increasing its area of responsibility to over 650 miles of coastline from Dana Point to Fort Bragg. With forward deployed aircrews operating out of Point Mugu, Air Station San Francisco continues to provide maritime search and rescue, which it has done for seven decades. In addition to SAR, Air Station San Francisco performs Homeland Security missions to secure the busy coastal region that now includes the major Ports of San Francisco, as well as Los Angeles and Long Beach; the largest cargo seaport in the United States and fifth busiest in the world. Today, Air Station San Francisco is one of the oldest continuously operating entities at San Francisco International Airport and occupies approximately 24 acres and 7 buildings.