HSC-25 sailors return from deployment
The Navy’s Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 welcomed home Det. 1 and 6 at Andersen Air Force Base just in time for the holidays. Family and friends greeted 33 personnel from Det. 1 following their nine-and a-half month deployment Dec. 13 and 35 personnel from Det. 6. after a seven month deployment Dec. 17.
The detachment left Guam March 3 and embarked on USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), where they spent six weeks flying logistics and search-and-rescue support for USS Essex (LHD 2) – Bonhomme Richard hull swap. During this time, Bonhomme Richard replaced Essex as the command ship for the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed Expeditionary Strike Group 7. Det. 1 was an invaluable resource in this logistical challenge, flying 146 hours and moving 418 tons of supplies and equipment during the transition.
After completing the hull swap, Det. 1 temporarily relocated to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan where they boarded USNS Amelia Earhart (T-AKE 6) to conduct vertical replenishment operations in support of Task Force 73 (CTF-73) and USS George Washington (CVN 73) Carrier Strike Group. While onboard Earhart, the detachment moved 3 million pounds of ordnance and cargo during 37 missions totaling 322 flight hours.
In September, the detachment returned to Guam for a short time to support the joint exercise Valiant Shield. They then transitioned to the South China Sea where they continued to support the George Washington Carrier Strike Group and also conducted an urgent, lifesaving medical evacuation mission to Manila.
In late October, the detachment returned to Japan with the Earhart to support the carrier strike group in Yokosuka, Japan. Working with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 14, Det. 1 offloaded the carrier’s entire store of ordnance in the three days prior to the ship’s holiday stand-down period.
The detachment supported the Bonhomme Richard and the George Washington strike group by moving more than nine million pounds (4500 tons) of cargo and ammunition during 16 major vertical replenishment evolutions.
Home at Last: Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (AW) Chad Burg, of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 Det. 1 embraces his wife upon his return from deployment at Andersen Air Force Base Dec. 13. U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Mariah Haddenham/Released
Det. 6 deploys as an Armed Helicopter Detachment in year-round support of USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The detachment’s role is to maintain mission-ready MH-60S aircraft in support of the ARG and the MEU for various missions, including search and rescue, vertical replenishment, anti-surface warfare and logistical support.
Operating out of Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan as well as Kadena Air Force Base (AFB), Okinawa, the detachment continuously trained with external units. This allowed Det. 6 to continually hone the fundamentals and tactical skills necessary to support the wide range of missions our aircrews are trained to execute.
Det. 6 also spent much of their onshore time preparing for the detachment’s shift to Kadena AFB. The many joint training opportunities in Okinawa provide a rich training environment that allows the detachment to maximize the use of the MH-60’s multi-mission functionality. This allowed the expeditionary aviation community to continually adapt and progress to meet the needs of our commanders at sea.
After arriving at MCAS Iwakuni, the detachment conducted a large-scale move of all aircraft and equipment to Kadena AFB to continue the build-up of a permanent location for the armed helicopter detachment. Throughout July, they conducted a mass casualty exercise with the 33rd Rescue Squadron and also trained with the 31st Rescue Squadron Pararescue personnel conducting multiple insertion/extraction training missions. The detachment trained in close air support with the 320th Special Tactics Squadron Joint Terminal Area Controllers.
In August, Det. 6 embarked upon Bonhomme Richard to conduct the detachment’s primary mission of supporting the ARG and the 31st MEU. They also operated with several ships including USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Tortuga (LSD 46), USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194), USNS Pecos (T-AO 197) and Earhart.
The detachment demonstrated the capabilities of a three-aircraft detachment, supporting numerous missions including sniper platform, aerial gunnery, weapons safety aircraft, Helicopter Visit Board Search and Seizure, Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance and Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance and ATFP assistance during multiple straits transits in support of the 31st MEU’s Certification Exercise and Philippine Bilateral Exercise. The detachment also supported multiple emergency operations including four lifesaving medical evacuations and one rescue mission—the first man over board since April 2003.
Toward the end of their deployment, the ARG was re-routed to Myanmar and Cambodia as they were tasked as an alert asset and ready platform for the president’s visit to Southeast Asia. The detachment achieved 57 individual qualifications, transported 254 passengers and 185 tons of essential equipment, mail, cargo and food. The detachment’s maintenance team supported three MH-60S aircraft, completing 4,558 maintenance actions and 109 aircraft inspections in support of 709 mishap-free flight hours in 366 sorties.
The professionalism, expertise, and dedication of both detachments ensured the safe, successful completion of these demanding missions and truly demonstrated their Island Knight pride.