Hunter Army Airfield hosts Royal Canadian Air Force training
February 24, 2012
HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. - A different unit is calling Hunter Army Airfield home for about two weeks, as a search-and-rescue unit from the Royal Canadian Air Force is taking advantage of Georgia's mild climate to do some winter water training. The U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Savannah, located on Hunter, is hosting the Canadian SAR unit, which is stationed out of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario.
"We're training using the beautiful area in Georgia doing water training, which is difficult for us to do this time of year back in Trenton," said Capt. Chris Herten, an aircraft captain with the Royal Canadian Air Force. "We're working with some of the Coast Guard auxiliary vessels and we're conducting boat training and water work training for some of our SAR techs and upcoming flight engineers."
This is the first time the Royal Canadian Air Force has worked with USCG Air Station Savannah, but not their first time training with the U.S. Coast Guard; last year, they did winter training with USCG Air Station Clearwater, Fla., and they regularly work with USCG Air Station Detroit covering the Great Lakes.
The Royal Canadian Air Force SAR unit is comparable to the U.S. Coast Guard, said Capt. Herten.
"We are the equivalent of the Coast Guard on the Canadian side, with search and rescue is our mandate," he said. "We cover a significant amount of the northern part of Canada as well as the Great Lakes region."
The main difference, Capt. Herten said, is that his unit is part of the 424th Transport and Rescue Squadron, which is a search and rescue response unit that covers not only water rescue but mountain ground, urban and combat search and rescue. The squadron covers the vast Trenton Search and Rescue Region, which extends from Quebec City to the Rocky Mountains, and from the Canada--U.S. border to the North Pole -- an area of more than over ten million square kilometers in Central, Western, and Northern Canada.
During their winter training, the Canadian unit is flying out of Hunter, but working on the water with Coast Guard Station Tybee.
"Our small boats station out at Tybee is doing the direct support of the hoisting of the boats," said Lt. j.g. Chris Tamburello, MH65 aircraft commander out of USCG Air Station Savannah. He said the USCG Auxiliary, Flotilla 10-2, Savannah, Ga., seventh Coast Guard District, is also giving water support.
The training for the Canadian SAR unit is to upgrading one of their air crew to the position where he can perform search and rescue missions, as well as valuable training for the other members of the unit.
"Our goal is to force generate the flight engineer, bring him up to operational status, as well as provide training for SAR techs and proficiency training for pilots," said Capt. Herten.
According to Lt. j.g. Tamburello, everyone at Air Station Savannah is involved in the training.
"Pretty much everyone's involved in one way or another," he said. "The biggest direct involvement is on our command, our operations and planning sections, as well as our engineering sections. That's through supporting them with maintenance support, planning support for their daily flights, and then just day-to-day business here at the hangar."
The added bonus of the training, for all units involved, is the sharing of ideas and procedures.
"I think the biggest is [benefit] for us is the transfer of ideas and techniques," Lt. j.g. Tamburello said. "Learning different techniques and seeing the similarities and differences of how we do the search and rescue business has been the best part of us. We've discovered that we do a lot of things similarly, but there are always different ways to do things, and new techniques and ways to go about things."
Also working the Royal Canadian Air Force in their training is the Hunter Airfield Operations team, which assits them with their take off, landings and flight planning.