Coast Guard Motor Lifeboat 44377 was used by NASA after finishing service with the Coast Guard. The vessel arrived at NASA around 1994 and although based at Langley, was operated out of Wallops Flight Facility. NASA renamed the vessel NS-1, the name still appearing in photos when moved in 2007.
NASA's Model Engineering Group used the vessel to recover aircraft models. V. E. 'Butch' Watkins, team lead of the Model Engineering Group, related that the group was involved in
..dropping a scaled aircraft model from a helicopter and flying it back to recovery. The model is not recovered by landing as with a conventional aircraft but is recovered with a parachute that is deployed at a very low altitude. After the parachute deploys, the model lands in the water and flotation devices activate, maintaining positive buoyancy of the model (these models are highly sophisticated and expensive). The recovery site for these models is located in an inshore zone of the Atlantic ocean adjacent to Wallops Island Flight Center on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
We acquired 44377 from the Coast Guard (around 1994) and retrofitted the deck to facilitate recovery of these models. It was used up until 1997 when the recovery was turned over to a contractor and 44377 was moth balled at Langley.
The NS-1 was sold in 2001 to the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) where it was used as a fisheries research vessel.