By U.S. Navy Lt. Andrew Bradstreet, Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25
/ Published June 19, 2014
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
The U.S. Navy's Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Two Five (HSC-25) welcomed home 40 Sailors from its armed helicopter detachment June 11 on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam after a six-month deployment.
Detachment 6 deploys in year-round support of the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) Amphibious Ready Group and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. DET SIX's role is to maintain mission-ready MH-60S Knighthawk aircraft in support of the ARG and the MEU for various missions, including search and rescue, vertical replenishment, anti-surface warfare and logistical support for passengers, mail, and cargo embarking and debarking the USS Bonhomme Richard while at sea.
As a forward deployed expeditionary squadron, DET SIX emulates the Island Knight team temperament as it maintains and employs the advanced capabilities of the MH-60S armament suite and its search and rescue capabilities. DET SIX worked with controllers onboard the USS Bonhomme Richard in order to improve the ships anti-terrorism/force protection capabilities and integrate with the ship's defense systems. Joint-nation live drills were conducted utilizing "aggressor boats" to showcase these abilities to Allied commanders. Additionally, the flight crews utilized the MH-60S Multispectral Targeting System and Forward Looking Infrared imagery to help identify contacts at sea while conducting surface surveillance and control missions in addition to the standard search and rescue and plane guard mission sets.
When the detachment arrived at U.S. Marine Corps Aircraft Station Iwakuni, Japan on December 3, 2013, the previous detachment was in the midst of a dual transmission change for its two aircraft. DET SIX Sailors flawlessly transitioned duties from one detachment to the next to complete the unscheduled maintenance in record time. Shortly after their arrival, the aircraft were returned to a flying status and DET SIX was able to fly 119 hours in just two and a half weeks. January brought with it an unprecedented flight to the Japanese destroyer, Shirane, in which DET SIX increased international relations with partner nation military personnel. Early February held a transition to shipboard life for detachment personnel, a first time experience for many, while the DET moved out of its hangar in MCAS Iwakuni in preparation for their move to a state-of-the-art hangar as part of MCAS Iwakuni's preparation to receive Carrier Air Group Five (CAG-5).
The USS Bonhomme Richard and three of its sister ships in Amphibious Squadron Eleven (PHIBRON 11) departed for Okinawa, Japan. Once there, the group supported the on-load of approximately 30 Marine Corps aircraft belonging to the 31st MEU's Air Combat Element, its maintainers, and numerous ground personnel. With all Marines safely aboard, the ships set sail for Advanced Integrated Training / CERTEX - an essential training exercise for the 31st MEU and DET SIX. During CERTEX, DET SIX provided helicopter visit board seizure and ASUW support, vital vertical replenishment, Joint Terminal Air-Controller training, live fast rope training for the embarked Maritime Raid Force, a multitude of passenger transfers and MEDEVACs.
Following the completion of CERTEX, PHIBRON 11 returned to Okinawa for supplies and a much needed port visit for the DET. Once the shore based replenishment was complete, the Expeditionary Strike Group departed for the Sea of Japan to commence Operation Sang Yong 2014 - a joint nation exercise with the Republic of Korea.
Throughout the month of March, DET SIX's maintenance department worked tirelessly to complete intensive maintenance on the detachment's MH-60S Knighthawks while supporting more than 200 flight hours. Two underway replenishments at sea were conducted and more than 315 tons of equipment, 69 personnel and 1,500 pounds of mail were moved. Additionally, four MEDEVACs were performed, providing lifesaving healthcare to the Navy and Marine Corps team. April came, and along with it, another 190 flight hours, 420 tons of cargo and equipment, 1,050 pounds of mail and 134 passengers in need of transport.
As PHIBRON 11's time in the East China Sea came to a close, and the ESG was bound for Okinawa, the USS Bonhomme Richard received a distress signal from the Korean ferry, Sewol, which capsized on April 16. DET SIX, alongside the 31st MEU aircraft, provided 24-hour search and rescue support to the Republic of Korea.
The conclusion of April brought with it the end of DET SIX's time upon the USS Bonhomme Richard. Detachment personnel were able to coordinate and execute the fly off without a hitch several days prior to the planned departure date due to a late spring storm. Upon their return to MCAS Iwakuni, DET SIX completed their transition into new spaces while executing 50 flight hours, performing an aircraft swap with aircraft from San Diego, organizing programs for the Annual Maintenance Inspection, began coordination for new hot fuel procedures, and prepare for the arrival of their replacements. Additionally, DET SIX was visited by the squadron's Quality Assurance Officer and they were able to qualify two pilots to in the Functional Check Flight (FCF) program.
Throughout the continuously high tempo of operations, the highly-striving team of personnel of DET SIX was able to achieve an astonishing 21 individual qualifications, further improving HSC-25's ability to operate and train personnel at home and on deployment. The detachment also completed six total MEDEVACs and transported 240 passengers and 804 tons of essential equipment, mail, cargo, food and stores. All of this would not have been possible without the incredible efforts of one of the best maintenance teams HSC-25 has to offer working side by side with an exceptional aircrew. The maintenance team completed three intensive phase maintenance periods, one depot level maintenance period in over 7,000 maintenance hours and 723.8 mishap-free flight hours in 407 sorties. DET SIX was able to overcome numerous hardships throughout their deployment while establishing a new set of standard expectations with its professionalism and work ethic in all actions and has greatly exemplified that through teamwork, nothing is impossible.
The mission of HSC-25 is to train, deploy and sustain combat ready helicopter detachments in support of the National Defense and Security Strategy while providing expeditionary and regional area logistics, search and rescue, force protection and disaster response to the Territory of Guam and the Northern Marianas Islands.