HSC-25 maintainers keep search, rescue mission spinning
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE - Each day, the maintainers of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 are the first to show up and the last to leave, working long hours on the scheduled and unscheduled maintenance for the MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters assigned to the unit.
HSC-25, a U.S. Navy unit hosted at the Air Force base, is supported by approximately 240 maintainers who work relentlessly to keep the rotors spinning on the only helicopter assets on Guam.
"This maintenance includes daily and turnaround inspections before each flight," said U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Chad McRae, HSC-25 NCO in charge of maintenance control. "Maintainers refuel, take fuel samples and verify the working operation of the aircraft electrical systems. They also check all rotor blades, drive shafts and attaching components for structural integrity and evidence of corrosion. This is done every day before flight and these evaluations take about three hours to perform."
Those three hours do not include any discrepancies that have to be repaired prior to the next flight. More in-depth inspections, whether mandatory or due to mechanical issues, can take anywhere from 12 hours to three weeks for completion.
Maintenance personnel are required to complete inspections that prepare the helicopters for flight two hours before takeoff and also conduct post-flight maintenance that can take three to five hours, depending on what inspections are required after the helicopter lands.
During April, HSC-25 accumulated 297 flight hours and 6,610 maintenance man-hours, for a total of approximately 22 man-hours for every one flight hour.
"Using this statistic alone, it's easy to see why we, as maintainers, are required to work long hours to ensure the aircraft are maintained," said U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Douglas Wright, HSC-25 chief aviations machinist mate. "We spent those hours completing more than 2,500 aircraft work orders and have completed more than 28,000 maintenance actions so far this year."
These long hours of working together have built a camaraderie that HSC-25 best described with the word "family."
"We all spend a lot of time here," Wright said. "When a search and rescue gets called in, we aren't 'on call;' we're already here. We are ready at a moment's notice, no matter the time or day."
Currently, HSC-25 has two maintenance shifts to provide around-the-clock support for search and rescue missions, firefighting and medical evacuations along with a multitude of other military operations.
The maintainers of HSC-25 continue to be a vital part of daily operations for both their own squadron and the branch under which they serve.
"Without these maintainers, aircraft would not fly and missions would not be completed," Wright said. "We are essential to the success of naval aviation."