Designing Sikorsky’s MH-60R Life Raft Pod

Brunswick, Maine
November, 2017

Sikorsky was tasked by an international naval customer to provide an External Life Raft Pod (ELRP) for its MH-60R helicopters that could manually or automatically deploy under the toughest weather conditions, and to be easily operated with limited dexterity in a thick survival suit and gloves in cold water conditions. Maritime Applied Physics Corporation (MAPC) designed and manufactured the ELRPs to meet those engineering challenges. After a rigorous testing program, Sikorsky’s ELRP is now available as an option for the international customer’s MH-60R and can be qualified for other H-60 helicopters.

The ELRP can be jettisoned from up to 50 feet altitude at 60 knots of forward velocity, and deploys a TSO C70a Type 1 compliant cold weather six-person life raft and survival kit. In an aircraft ditching scenario, the ELRP automatically deploys and floats to the surface for access by survivors. The pod remains sealed until manual actuation of large orange manual release handles, and is buoyant both before and after deployment. Automatically activated LED strobe locator lights are visible for over three miles and are designed to strobe continuously for 12 hours.

To perform in this aerospace program, MAPC’s Brunswick, Maine office became AS9100 compliant. Please see Specification Sheet for more information.

GARC: The First Military Rescue Mission

OKINAWA, Japan: On October 5, 2014 three airmen working at the Kadena Air Force Base were swept into the sea during Typhoon Phanfone, a category-4 storm with winds reaching 150 miles an hour and estimated 15-30 foot high waves.

A joint rescue mission, launched by the 31st Air Rescue Squadron stationed at Kadena and the 11th Division of the Japanese Coast Guard and local fire department, began shortly thereafter, deploying two GARCs and six jetskis. Within hours, however, the jetskis were disabled, unable to handle the waves and the breaking surf; some with water jets clogged due to debris floating in the water.

The GARC, a personal watercraft rescue boat, designed for durability in breaking surf and high waves, not only outperformed the six jetskis in this mission, but rescued one of the jetski operators after a particularly big wave hit the jetski. Although the same wave hit the GARC broadside, it did not capsize. 

The 143 horse power GARCs worked for three days in up to 30 foot waves, with a payload of 2-3 Airforce Pararescue Specialists (known as PJs) per GARC.  The boats only required refueling once per each 12 hour day at sea.
Maritime Applied Physics Corporation (MAPC) has now developed a line of manned and unmanned, gas, diesel, and electric 3.6 and 5 meter GARCs that are stable, dependable, durable, and can turn completely around within one boat length. Mark Rice, President and Founder of MAPC: “The October rescue and recovery mission in Okinawa proves the GARC’s durability and reliability in extreme weather conditions.” For more information on the GARC, please check out our website: