Caption: U.S. Coast Guard crew members from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Florida, prepare an HC-130 Hercules airplane for an overflight. The crew flew to areas north of Daytona, Florida, for an assessment of Hurricane Matthew’s damage and Vice Adm. Karl L. Schultz, commander Coast Guard Atlantic Area, held a press briefing when they landed.
The Coast Guard has operated Herky birds since 1958 when they ordered the first R8V-1G (HC-130B) models to replace the long-range SAR assets lost when they retired the PBYs and B-17s (PB-1Gs) left over from WWII.
They currently operate 14 HC-130H and 13 new HC-130J model birds from Coast Guard Air Stations in Sacramento, Clearwater, Kodiak, and Barbers Point though they are worldwide deployable and can often be found doing everything from supporting counter-narcotics operations in the Eastern Pacific, to long range Search and Rescue in the Atlantic and running the International Ice Patrol from Newfoundland.
The last HC-130Hs are to be replaced by 2027 when the service will have 22 operational J models running the new Minotaur mission system. Seven aircraft from the existing fleet of HC-130Hs are being transferred to the U.S. Forest Service as directed by the Defense Authorization Act of 2014 as part of the acquisition of 14 C-27Js divested by the U.S. Air Force.