Anytime President Obama leaves the White House for another city in the United States, helicopters from Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City serve as his eyes in the sky.
Following the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the mission of the Coast Guard changed around the country and specifically at the Atlantic City air station. In addition to their traditional search-and-rescue work in the Atlantic Ocean, the air station at the William J. Hughes Technical Center also is responsible for protecting the airspace when the Commander in Chief leaves Washington, said Capt. Pete Mingo, air station commander.
As part of the station’s ongoing homeland security mission, the station also provides aircraft and crews for security patrols in Washington. The Atlantic City station took on the mission in 2006, Mingo said.
Over the years, the station has performed 42 homeland security missions, as well as nine diverts/scrambles in the Washington area. The more than 220 employees answer about 120 calls for help per year from boaters in the Atlantic Ocean.
“Each year is a little different. After Sandy there was a downturn in the number of rescues,” Mingo said. “Part of that is testament to the equipment that the Coast Guard and the boating public have. We’ve gotten a lot smarter about what we bring with us. Some of them are mysterious callouts over the radio, some of them are simple tows, and [others are] for sinking boats.”