Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Coast Guard Air Station, San Diego
 
Coast Guard Air Station San Diego today.

Coast Guard Air Station San Diego is based in San Diego, California across the street from the San Diego Lindbergh Field (KSAN). CGAS San Diego operates three HH-60J "Jayhawk" helicopters off the Coast Guard ramp.
 
Lindbergh Field opened on October 16, 1934 on Pacific Highway. The San Diego International Airport East Terminal opened on March 6, 1967, and the West Terminal opened July 11, 1979. A new Commuter Terminal opened July 23, 1996. It is self contained, full service facility with four gates used by seven commuter airlines to handle 25,000 passengers each day. Construction of the expansion of the West Terminal ended in November, 1997. Almost 14 million passengers travel through Lindbergh Field each year. The 27 passenger and cargo airlines operate more than 500 flights each day from the runways.
 
On December 11, 1935 negotiations between the City of San Diego and the U.S. Government were concluded which provided 23 acres of tideland for the construction of a Coast Guard Air Station adjacent to Lindbergh Field, the Municipal Airport. This project had the strong support of many people and agencies, and particularly the Harbor Commission and Department of San Diego and the Chamber of Commerce. The area for this station was deeded to the Coast Guard at no cost, after approval by citizens of San Diego, at a municipal election held in April of 1935.
 
Construction of the Air Station was undertaken in 1936 with funds provided by the Federal Public Works Administration. The M.H. Golden Co. was the contractor. The area had to be dredged from the bay and filled and brought up to grade level. Long piles were driven in the soil at the building sites for stabilization. The contract called for one hangar with lean-to, a mess hall, a barracks building, two aprons, a runway to the field, and a small wooden seaplane ramp. During and prior to this time a Coast Guard Air Detachment was maintained on Lindbergh Field in one-half of a commercial hangar. This detachment was led by Elmer F. Stone after May 21, 1935. Stone is one of Coast Guard Aviation’s most colorful figures.
 
In April of 1937, the Air Station was commissioned. The first commanding officer was LT S.C. Linholm who later became Commander of Eleventh Coast Guard District. There had, however, been an Air Patrol Detachment active in San Diego between 1934 and 1937. At the time this was the only Coast Guard air base in California.
 
Coast Guard Air Station San Diego saw no radical changes as a result of the declaration of war in 1941. The unit continued to watch and report the activities of fishing boats in the area, to provide assistance in cases of distress, and to provide transportation by air for other government departments. Air Sea Rescue operations were given primary focus from October 1943 on. Between January 1 and December 1, 1944, a total of 124 aircraft went down in waters covered by this unit. Of the 201 pilots and crewmen involved, 137 were saved, 59 were killed outright by mid-air collisions or impact with the water, two are missing, and three who might have been saved were lost because of improper equipment or the failure to locate them promptly.
 
In June of 1972 a major rebuilding plan was proposed. On January 26, 1983, a ceremony was held signaling the completion of the project.
 
In April 1997, the Port of San Diego began a master plan for San Diego International Airport. The goal of the plan is to provide incremental, cost-effective improvements to SDIA to meet the region's near-term demand for air service while a long-term regional air transportation strategy is developed in collaboration with the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) and other transportation agencies.
 
 
Copied with permission from globalsecurity.com
 
 
 
 
1937 - Coast Guard Air Station San Diego Established
 
San Diego Lindberg Field opened on August 16, 1928. Coast Guard aviation activities in the San Diego, California area began as an Air Patrol Detachment on May 4, 1934 for the purpose of preventing smuggling across the Mexican Border. The Detachment operated from a commercial hangar on the airport. The mission soon expanded to include the saving of life and property. In December of 1935 negotiations between the City of San Diego and the U.S. Government were concluded which provided 23 acres of tideland for the construction of a Coast Guard air station adjacent to Lindbergh Field. This project had the strong support of many people and agencies, and particularly the Harbor Commission the San Diego Municipal Government and the Chamber of Commerce. The area for this station was deeded to the Coast Guard at no cost after approval by the citizens of San Diego at a municipal election held in April of 1935.
 
Construction of the Air Station was undertaken in 1936 with funds provided by the Federal Public Works Administration. The M.H. Golden Co. was the contractor. The area was filled and brought up to grade level by dredging from the bay. Long piles were driven in the soil at the building sites for stabilization. The contract called for one hangar with a lean-to, a mess hall, a barracks building, two aprons, a runway to the field, and a small wooden seaplane ramp. During construction the Air Patrol Detachment continued to operate out of Lindbergh Field. In April of 1937 Coast Guard Air Station San Diego was commissioned.
 
View of the Coast Guard Air Station San Diego --1937
 
A RD-4 and an additional JF-2 were the initial station aircraft. Two Hall PH3 seaplanes were added later. The search and rescue mission continued to grow and a JF-2 was deployed on a regular basis to Oakland, California as a sub-unit at the Naval Reserve Base. From there it effectively performed search and rescue operations in the San Francisco Bay area.

With the declaration of war in 1941 unit aircraft commenced anti-submarine patrols but the threat of Japanese submarines off the Pacific Coast proved to be minimal. The unit continued to watch and report the activities of vessels in the area, to provide assistance in cases of distress, and to provide transportation by air for other government departments. A rapid expansion of military aviation took place during the war which produced an increasing number of offshore crashes, mostly by student pilots, with the inherent loss of life. The Commander of the 11th Naval District became very concerned about the situation. CDR Watson Burton, commanding the San Diego Air station recommended the formation of a squadron designed for rescue operations. Nine PBY-5A Catalinas were provided and Coast Guard Air-Sea Rescue Squadron 1 was formed in 1943 under the command of CDR. Chester R. Bender. Air Sea Rescue operations became the primary focus from October 1943 on. Between January 1 and December 1, 1944, a total of 124 aircraft went down in waters covered by this squadron. Of the 201 pilots and crewmen involved, 137 were saved, 59 were killed outright by mid-air collisions or impact with the water, two are missing, and three who might have been saved were lost because of improper equipment.
 
PBY-5A with Air Rescue markings on the ramp San Diego
 
Air Sea Rescue continued to be the primary mission after the war and the PBYs were replaced by Martin PBM aircraft. A PBM was used by CAPT D.B. MacDiarmid at Air Station San Diego to evaluate techniques and procedures for open sea landings. Landings in the open sea were never safe but his findings made them safer. Helicopters arrived at San Diego in the 1950s and greatly increased rescue capabilities.
 
With the expansion of the Coast Guard mission all operational units in the San Diego area were combined into one command called Coast Guard Sector San Diego.
 
Source: US Coast Guard
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Search our Site!
Google
Search the Web Search California Military History Online
 
Questions and comments concerning this site should be directed to the Webmaster
 
Updated 8 February 2016