By Clark Pierce, Editor
Photo by Clark Pierce Farewell Tridents HSC-9 (formerly HS-3) Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott Starkey finished transfer paperwork and performed a final inspection July 16 of the squadron’s recently vacated spaces in NAS Jacksonville Hangar 116. Redesignated HSC-9 on June 1, the “Tridents” are now homeported at NS Norfolk where they are transitioning to the SH-60 “Sierra” helicopter.
In a move with little fanfare, HS-3 – one of NAS Jacksonville’s most notable helicopter squadrons – changed its homeport to NS Norfolk, Va. The transition is part of the Navy’s Helicopter Concept of Operations (CONOPS) plan that will reduce the number of platforms needed to fulfill the fleet’s rotary wing missions to two – the SH-60R (Romeo) and the SH-60S (Sierra).
“The HS-3 “Tridents” were re-designated HSC-9 on June 1,” said HSC-9 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott Starkey. “We are the first HS squadron at NAS Jax to transfer to Norfolk, where our pilots, aircrew and maintainers are training to get the qualifications they need to operate the Sierra. We will perform all the same missions – except for antisubmarine warfare, which is part of the Romeo’s mission.”
Starkey was at NAS Jacksonville July 16 to sign off on transfer paperwork and perform a final inspection of the squadron’s recently vacated spaces in Hangar 116.
Photo by Cpl. Patrick Johnson-Campbell In this January 2008 photo, Lance Cpl. Glenn Rini, a scout sniper assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, fires a MK-11 sniper rifle from a HH-60H Sea Hawk helicopter assigned to the HS-3 “Tridents” during a live fire exercise. The sniper team and HS-3 are assigned to Combined Task Force 151 (CTF 151), a multinational task force conducting counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and the Red Sea.
Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell
“The community merger of HS, HSL and HC squadrons began a few years ago. Under CONOPS, we now have two wings: Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic (HSMWL) flying Romeos; and Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic (HSCWL) flying Sierras. The HC squadrons were first to receive the Sierra to replace the H-46 Sea Knight and H-53 Sea Stallion,” explained Starkey.
The Tridents recently gave away the last of their SH-60F and HH-60H birds to other squadrons at NAS Jacksonville – and also flew a couple of helos to the ‘boneyard’ at Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona.
“We’ll start flying Sierras in September under the purview of Fleet Replacement Squadron HSC-2. After we pass our wing inspection, we expect to write our first flight schedule by mid-October. At full complement, HSC-9 will deploy eight SH-60S Seahawks – with six on the carrier and two on the supply ship,” concluded Starkey.
HSC-9 will be the Sierra sister squadron to HSM-70 (the first Romeo squadron based at NAS Jacksonville) in Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77).
Photo by Cpl. Patrick Johnson-Campbell In this February 2009 photo, an aviation boatswainÕs mate signals an HH-60H Seahawk from the HS-3 “Tridents” to take off from the supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1), part of Combined Task Force 151. Cpl. Patrick M. Johnson-Campbell
The Tridents have served the fleet since 1952, when the squadron flew the Piaseki UH-25B. In the early 1960s, HS-3 was the first Atlantic Fleet squadron to operate the SH-3A Sea King, and, in 1991, the first to operate the SH-60 Seahawk. Now, they are the first East Coast squadron to transition to the Sierra variant of the Seahawk.
o Beginning in 1962, the Tridents supported NASA recovery efforts from USS Intrepid (CVS-11). Astronauts Carpenter, Grissom, Young, Collins, Gordon, Conrad, McDevitt, Scott and Schweickart each ended his space journey with a ride aboard a Trident SH-3A Sea King.
o In 1988, HS-3 completed the first six-month SH-3H deployment aboard USS Hayle (DD-997), a Spruance-class destroyer, without direct carrier support.
o In 1990, the Tridents enforced U. N. sanctions against Iraqi trade while deployed on board USS Saratoga in the Red Sea. They flew the first Helicopter Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (HVBSS) with a special forces boarding team to “take down” a hostile merchant ship during Operation Desert Shield/Storm.
o In 1999, the USS Theodore Roosevelt Battle Group transited the Suez Canal to the Arabian Gulf, where HS-3 flew in support of maritime interdiction operations and enforced no-fly zones over southern Iraq. A successful HVBSS to a freighter violating U.N. sanctions seized $3.5 million in contraband. During this demanding deployment, HS-3 lifted over 1.8 million pounds of cargo and completed over 2,000 deck landings.
o In 2005, the Tridents flew more than 600 flight hours to transport 148 passengers and 25,410 pounds of cargo during earthquake relief operations in Pakistan.
o Also in 2005, HS-3 began integrated operations with the British Joint Helicopter Force in Iraq, flying more than 113 combat missions and 230 flight hours in support of British security and stability operations, including troop inserts and extracts, convoy escort, riverine operations and logistics in Southern Iraq. SIDEBAR SH-60 Seahawk helicopter profile From U.S. Navy Fact File The Navy Seahawk series is a twin-engine, medium lift, utility and assault helicopter used for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift and special operations.
The SH-60B Seahawk is an airborne platform that deploys sonobuoys and torpedoes in an anti-submarine role. Based aboard cruisers, destroyers and frigates, it also extend the range of the ship’s radar capabilities. The SH-60F is carrier-based. The HH-60H, also aboard carriers and ashore, is used for search and rescue and logistics missions. By 2015, the only models of Seahawk in the Navy will be the MH-60S “Sierra” and the MH-60R “Romeo.”