USA: DC-3 Survey Plane Makes Stop at 4th Fleet HQ


A DC-3 coastal survey airplane from Naval Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANO) visited 4th Fleet headquarters Aug. 20 for a capabilities demonstration prior to a scheduled deployment to the Caribbean Sea and Central America.

The DC-3 collects oceanographic and hydrographic data from the world’s oceans and coastlines, using a verity of platforms including, ships, aircraft, satellite sensors and buoys.

The DC-3 is replacing a King Air 200, which will provide a wider range to be able to conduct survey missions. The current collection system on the airplane is called the Coastal Zone Mapping and Imaging Lidar system. It is used to evolve airborne coastal mapping sensors that collect data important to coastal engineers, planners and nautical charting authorities.

“We are very excited to have this aircraft deploy for the first time in the Caribbean Sea and Central America to work with regional partner nations to accurately map coastlines and shallow waters to update nautical charts in support our multinational counter transnational organized crime operations,” Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Rear Adm. Sinclair M. Harris said.

Harris also mentioned that the survey airplane can be used after natural disasters such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunami’s to map coastal areas which could have changed and poses a threat to navigation and relief operations.

Michael Bendzlowicz, oceanographer, Naval Oceanographic Office, gave Harris a tour of the DC-3 and discussed with him the significance of the aircraft used to support counter transnational organized crime missions.

“With the equipment this DC-3 is outfitted with, it is not only able to survey coastal areas, but can also detect surface contacts as well as underwater contacts as well,” Bendzlowics said.

“This aircraft and its unique capabilities is a perfect match for our current and future operations in 4th Fleet,” Harris said. “We are ready to have it on station and put to work.”

This particular DC-3 conducted its first test flight Dec. 17, 1935, where it was implemented into the American Airlines fleet. During World War II, many civilian DC-3s were drafted for the war effort and just over 10,000 US military versions of the DC-3 were built, under the designations C-47, C-53, R4D, and Dakota. Peak production was reached in 1944, with 4,853 being delivered. The armed forces of many countries used the DC-3 and its military variants for the transport of troops, cargo, and wounded.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F) supports USSOUTHCOM joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.
Press Release, August 21, 2013