Operational History of HH-3F Pelicans
1967 – HH-3F Helicopters Entered Coast Guard Service-by John “Bear” Moseley CGAA Historian
In November 1967 the US Coast Guard procured the first of the HH-3F Pelican Helicopters. This twin turbine, medium range, amphibious, all weather helicopter extended the Coast Guard offshore search and rescue capabilities. The HH-3F had a maximum speed of 142 knots with a normal cruise speed of 130 knots and a range of 650 NM. The Coast Guard purchased 40 HH-3F’s. The last one was delivered in 1973.
The HH-3F was manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft, Division of United Aircraft Corporation, Stratford, Connecticut. The HH-3F was equipped with a single main rotor, twin engines rated at 1500 SHP each, a fully retractable tricycle landing gear, amphibious capabilities, and a hydraulically operated aft ramp that could be opened in flight, on the ground, or on water. The HH-3F was additionally well suited for marine environmental protection, logistic and reconnaissance support, enforcement of laws and treaties, defense readiness and drug interdiction.
Normal crew included pilot and co-pilot seated side-by-side in the cockpit with the pilot on the right side. To the rear of the cockpit is the cabin. Access between the cockpit and the cabin could be used in flight. A folding jump seat was provided in the cockpit entry. A sliding cargo door is located on the right side of the forward end of the cabin. An eight-foot ramp was located at the rear of the cabin. The cabin accommodated two crew-men and six passengers; more in a rescue situation. Two large windows located in the forward cabin were used as search stations.
Two electronics racks were located in the cabin, one immediately aft of the copilot and one in the aft portion of the cabin. A folding type navigator’s table was mounted on the electronics rack aft of the copilot and forward of the left crewman’s seat. Structural provisions existed for 14 additional passenger seats and 15 USAF pole type litters. The cabin was 6’6” wide, 6’ height, and 26’2 ½ “long. The cabin was equipped with tie-down rings for transportation of cargo. A 600-pound capacity hydraulic rescue hoist with approximately 240 feet of useable cable was suspended on a fixed truss over the cargo door.
Two gas turbine engines were mounted side by side in the engine compartment which was located above the forward portion of the cabin. The engine drive shafts extended aft into the main gear box which was located in the transmission compartment. The main rotor assembly, to which the five rotor blades were attached, is splined to the main gear box drive shaft. The APU located aft of the main gear box is capable of driving the main gear box accessory section. The APU is used for engine starting and checkout of systems. A removable deflector was installed to reduce the possibility of foreign object damage to the engines.
During 1989 the US Coast Guard acquired five HH-3E helicopters from the US Air Force to supplement the HH-3F fleet and converted them to the Coast Guard HH-3F configuration.
Manufacturer Sikorsky Engines G.E. T58-G.E.-5
Designation HH-3F Take-off power 2 X 1500 shp
Type All-weather helicopter Height 18 ft 1 in
Range 300 nautical miles Length 57 ft 3 in
Cruise 130 knots Rotor Diameter 62 ft
Gross Weight 22,050 lbs Blade Area 445 sq ft
Hover Ceiling 6200 ft. Crew 4
The following U.S. Coast Guard Air Stations that operates the HH-3F Pelicans are:
- CGAS Astoria
- CGAS Cape Cod
- CGAS Clearwater
- CGAS Elizabeth City
- CGAS Kodiak, Alaska
- CGAS San Diego
- CGAS Sitka
- Coast Guard Aviation Training Center
The following are photos of the HH-3F Pelican helicopter: