Interview by: Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Stanton.
Edited by: Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Stanton.
In this documentary series from the HITRON (Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron), Coast Guard spoke with Captain USCG (Ret) Richard Bates.
Bates was the Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) platform manager for Coast Guard headquarters aviation forces during the transition from the Agusta (Leonardo Helicopters) MH-68A Mako to the Aérospatiale (Airbus Helicopters) MH-65 Dolphin.
Playing an instrumental part in standing up the HITRON safety program, he was the recipient of the Captain Marion “Gus” Shrode Flight Safety Award and an instructor pilot during his time as a HITRON line pilot from 2000-2003. Bates also managed the HITRON program at the area level as chief of aviation forces for Coast Guard Atlantic Area.
HITRON operations started as an experiment in 1998 to halt the flow of illegal drugs into the U.S. Drug trafficking organizations primarily used “go-fast” boats, high-speed smuggling vessels capable of traveling over twice the speed of Coast Guard cutters. The Coast Guard needed a way to counter the threat.
In late 1998, six Coast Guard pilots and four enlisted aircrew members developed tactics and procedures to utilize armed helicopters operating aboard Coast Guard cutters to answer the call.
HITRON helicopters operate in known smuggling vectors and rely on expertly trained aircrews and precision marksmen to disable go-fast drug smuggling vessels in the event suspects refuse to comply with verbal and visual warnings for law enforcement boardings under international maritime law. This series focuses on the founding members, pioneers, and stakeholders who have played an essential part in HITRON’s history.
For more Hlcopters Magazine breaking news, stories, images and videos follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube
The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.