Air Station Humboldt Bay, California

June 14, 2022

Air Station Humboldt Bay, California

Original Location: 
Arcata-Eureka Airport

Current Location:

Date of Commission:
24 June 1977

Still in operation

Historical Remarks:

Coast Guard Group / Air Station Humboldt Bay was commissioned on June 24, 1977 at the Arcata-Eureka Airport in McKinleyville, California.  This completed a multi-year initiative by local residents to gain a year-round aviation search and rescue (SAR) facility for Northern California.  Prior to 1977, an aviation detachment from Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco provided air coverage during the summer season, but the response time of over two hours was not fast enough for victims to survive in the 40-50 degree water commonly found along the north coast.  Originally named Air Station Arcata, the Group / Air Station was redesignated to its current name in May 1982.  The new $3.5 million facility also relocated boat station support offices from nearby Samoa to establish centralized command and control over all Coast Guard assets in the area.

Due to its unique coastal airport location, the facility succeeded in combining the best features of a Coast Guard Group (which traditionally oversees multiple boat stations along a few hundred miles of coastline) with a Coast Guard Air Station (which typically serves one or more Groups, but usually from a removed airport locale).  Group / Air Station Humboldt Bay is one of just a few such combined facilities in the Coast Guard.  Commonly referred to as Group Humboldt Bay for short, it currently oversees 3 helicopters, 2 patrol boats, and 4 motor lifeboats.  An Aids to Navigation Team and a Marine Safety Detachment also serve the region.  Twenty-two officers and over 170 enlisted personnel operate these various facilities located at Crescent City, McKinleyville, Samoa, Eureka, and Fort Bragg, California.

Historical Sources:

Air Station Files, U. S. Coast Guard Historian's Office

Arthur Pearcy.  A History of U. S. Coast Guard Aviation.  Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1989.