This is a different kind of veteran transition story. It’s no surprise with a leadership team made up of mostly United States Armed Forces Veterans, that the Blue Tide Group finds value in including those with similar experiences and drives a strong veteran hiring initiative.
What may be surprising however, is that the maritime fleet at Blue Tide Marine (BTM) and the aviation fleet of Blue Tide Aviation (BTA) also include veterans of their own. The team has identified an opportunity to bring new life to what some may consider relics of the past while preventing more waste in aircraft and ship boneyards.
The first acquisition was a Vietnam Era Patrol Craft Fast (PCF). The boats were used by the US Navy to patrol the coastal areas and interior waterways during the war. Oftentimes the boats were carrying or inserting Navy SEALs for counterinsurgency operations. When the opportunity was made available to purchase the 50’ PCF, the history and the tie to the roots of BTM leadership made it an easy decision to bring it into the fleet.
She has been renamed by Blue Tide Marine and is now known as Attack Vessel Belafonte. With a new name has come lots of care, attention and repair. After months of renovation to the interior cabin and helm of the veteran fast boat, the PCF recently received some additional markings to reflect the personality that BTM tries to bring to their daily work. As a nod to military history, one of the most recognizable designs in nose artwork was added to the bow. The shark adds a little levity to hard days on the water and now brings a smile to those watermen and families who see it.
Belafonte’s revival demonstrated the value of bringing new purpose to seemingly forgotten equipment while building a reliable fleet. It has since led to the most impressive transformation yet.
US Army aircraft 93-1335 rose from the Arizona desert in August of 2021 after Blue Tide Aviation (BTA) placed a bid and won an online GSA auction of the C-23B Sherpa. After 18 years of service, it had been under the care of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance And Regeneration Group. The Sherpa was granted the FAA number, N282BT. A little more than year later, now MANTA51, completed its first operational sortie for BTA from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Chub Cay in the Bahamas among other support flights for BTM.
In between that time, M7 Aerospace was hired to prepare for a ferry flight that took N282BT from Davis Monthan Air Force Base to San Antonio, Texas. DRS Aviation Consulting and M7 Aerospace put in five months of work to transition the aircraft from military to civilian FAA airworthiness. The plane was essentially taken apart and put back together again with inspections and repairs.
Then it left Texas for Mesa, Arizona where Hampton Aviation spent four months stripping the paint, replacing avionics and removing the missile warning system. Over 5,000 hours of labor transforming the aircraft culminated with repainting to proudly show MANTA51’s new identity as part of the Blue Tide Aviation fleet.
Blue Tide Aviation CEO, Pat Reagan believes Blue Tide Aviation clients appreciate these storied assets as well. He says, “When you see MANTA 51, you can’t help but think about all the meaningful work it did for our military and the tales veterans must tell about it and we are privileged to further its legacy. The Blue Tide family is made up of military veterans and proud Americans who know that serving your country goes beyond government service.”
Much like the veterans who have reinvented themselves leading and working at the Blue Tide Group, Belafonte and MANTA51 are not who they once were. They have found a new purpose and a new way to give to their communities and to those they safely carry.
How they work looks quite different now, but they are continuing to serve after service.