You might be aware that Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is home to all of the Navy’s EA-18G Growlers, and a fair chunk of its P-3/EP-3 fleet. What you may not realize is that those fleets don’t belong to NAS Whidbey. NAS Whidbey serves sort of as the landlord, housing tenant commands. In fact, the only aircraft that “belong” to the Air Station itself are a couple of MH-60S Knighthawks that provide Search And Rescue services for the tenant units.*
While the SAR birds are primarily there to support the Growlers and Orions, fortunately, they don’t crash very often. And so through a series of agreements with local and state agencies, the SAR birds often also support civilian Search And Rescue efforts, and occasionally provide MEDEVAC flights in the area as well. Some of the terrain in Washington is extraordinary, and those are the places most likely to need Navy SAR support to supplement civilian efforts. And so, of course, those tend to be the places the NAS Whidbey Island SAR team conducts its training.
*They might also still have one or two UC-12 Hurons on station as Operational Support Aircraft. The UC-12 is basically a Beech King Air.