Air Sea Rescue

March 17, 2012 by staff 

Air Sea Rescue, Air-sea rescue (ASR or A/SR, also known as sea-air rescue or SAR) is the coordinated search and rescue of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their sea-going vessel. ASR can involve a wide variety of resources including seaplanes, helicopters, submarines, rescue boats and ships. Specialized equipment and techniques have been developed. Military and civilian units can perform air-sea rescue.

With the tail of his Grumman AF Guardian still visible, a U.S. Navy pilot who had been waved off his attempted landing aboard the escort carrier USS Block Island is hoisted from the water by a Piasecki HUP Retriever helicopter in 1953.

The first air-sea rescue was performed in August 1911 by Hugh Robinson who landed his Curtiss Aeroplane Company seaplane on Lake Michigan to pull a crashed pilot out of the water. Air-sea rescue by flying boat or floatplane was a method used by various nations to pick up aviators or sailors who were struggling in the water. Training and weather accidents could require an aircrew to be rescued, and seaplanes were occasionally used for that purpose.

The limitation was that if the water’s surface were too rough, the aircraft would not be able to land. The most that could be done was to drop emergency supplies to the survivors, or to signal surface ships or rescue boats to guide them to the correct location.

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