Icelandic Coast Guard

Operator Profile

Key Facts

Current Title:
Landhelgisgaeslan Islands
English Title:
Icelandic Coast Guard
First Established:
ICAO Code:


Narrative Summary

The Icelandic Coast Guard was established in 1926, to patrol the seas around Iceland. In 1947 the Coast Guard started leasing aircraft from local airlines to patrol the fishing grounds just off the coast.

The ICG obtained it’s first aircraft, a PBY-6A Catalina amphibian in late 1955 and at the same time established a Division of Air Operations. This allowed search and rescue operations and shipping patrol missions to be carried out with much greater efficiency. The Catalina was replaced by a C-54 Skymaster in 1962. The ICG’s first helicopter, a Bell 47J, was delivered in 1965 and used to build up experience of helicopter operations. A Hughes 369 helicopter was obtained in 1975 for liason and transport duties. In the meantime, a Fokker F.27 had replaced the C-54 Skymaster.

During 1975, the imposition of a territorial limit 200 miles from the Icelandic coast led to confrontation with British fishing boats. The British fishermen had traditionally fished Icelandic waters for cod, and resisted Icelandic efforts to police what had previously been international waters. ICG Cutters were involved in several near collisions with British Trawlers in the disputed zone.

Since the 1970s, the ICG has obtained more modern helicopters, such as the Eurocopter Ecureuil, Dauphin 2 and Super Puma and upgraded the equipment on its Fokker F.27.

Key Dates

1 July 1926    Landhelgisgaezlan established
1947    ICG starts leasing aircraft for fishery patrol
10 December 1955    First aircraft obtained (PBY-6A Catalina)
29 December 1955    Division of Air Operations created
1965    First helicopter obtained (Bell 47J)

Current Status

The Icelandic Coast Guard is a law enforcement and rescue organisation. It is primarily tasked with policing Icelandic territorial waters and assisting those in trouble at sea. All aircraft are unarmed.

Ninety per cent of the missions flown by ICG aircraft are related to fishery protection, with the remainder devoted to a variety of tasks. These include search and rescue, mine clearance, emergency ambulance service, maintenance support to lighthouses and other navigation aids and transportaton for various goverment agencies.

Future Plans

The Fokker F.27 needs to be replaced in the near future.

[Super Puma]
The Super Puma TF-LIF on exercise over the choppy sea, March 6, 1998.
(Photo, Baldur Sveinsson)


National Insignia


Aircraft Serial Numbers

All ICG aircraft carry civil registrations.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used.

Current Aircraft Inventory

Table of Current Service Aircraft

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports of aircraft on order or in service have been noted.

[The ICG Fleet]
The ICG fleet, as it was on 13 October 1980. (Photo, Baldur Sveinsson)


Main Headquarters

Postholf 7120 – 127 Reykjavik, Island.

Organisational Structure

All aircraft and helicopters are based at Reykjavik. There are no organisational sub-divisions. Coast Guard Cutters have helicopter facilities.

Current Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

All aircraft and helicopters are currently based at Reykjavik International Airport.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

A number of regional airports and airfields are located around the country, many of which have been used by the ICG.
Air Bases and Airfields Listing

More Information


Icelandic Aviation Bibliography – to be added


Air Pictorial September 1985 p.348-350
Militair 1982 (Aviation Press) p.99
Aircraft Illustrated January 1981 p.8
World Air Forces Data Book 1 – Europe p.57
World Air Power Journal No.11 p.6


Icelandic Coast Guard
(Some photos of ships and aircraft)

Aircraft of the Icelandic Coast Guard
(Excellent photos of ICG aircraft and helicopters by Baldur Sveinsson)

Night Vision Goggles
(Introduction of NVGs with the ICG)

SAR Helicopters
(Includes operational use of ICG helicopters)

Icelandic Coast Guard
(Narrative history of ICG aviation with photos)

The author would like to acknowledge the assistance of Pall Halldorssan,
Chief Pilot of the Icelandic Coast Guard, in the production of this feature.

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