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Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ELEVEN [HC-11]
"Gunbearers"

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO ONE [HSC-21]
"Blackjacks"

Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 11 was redesignated as Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 on April 1, 2005. The redesignation was made squadron-wide as part of the reorganization of the naval helicopter community as a result of the Navy phasing out the CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter to the more-recently-designed MH-60S and MH-60R Seahawk helicopters.

Helicopter Combat Support Squadron ELEVEN has been the cornerstone for West Coast Fleet Logistics Support since its establishment on 1 October 1977 at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California. HC-11's primary missions are Air Logistics Support and VERTREP (Vertical Replenishment) at sea to forward deployed battle groups in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and to fleet units in the west coast operating area, and Search and Rescue support for Pacific Fleet Amphibious Units. In addition, HC-11 provides VIP logistics support to Commander, THIRD FLEET. To meet these commitments, the squadron maintains 22 H-46 helicopters, one H-3, and employs over 70 officers and 325 enlisted aircraft personnel, making it, the largest operational helicopter squadron in the United States Navy.

Unlike most squadrons, which deploy as a unit, HSC-11 is made up of nine expeditionary detachments. They deploy aboard Fast Combat Support ships (T-AOEs) and Amphibious Assault ships (LHAs and LHDs). These detachments are generally comprised of two MH-60 helicopters, six pilots, one maintenance officer, six enlisted aircrew personnel, and 18 to 24 maintenance personnel. They constitute a cohesive team able to meet every challenge in the rapidly changing, high tempo dynamics of logistics and Search and Rescue operations.

    Major HC Squadron Deployments, 1998 
    Squadron 		Dates 			Ship 
    HC-11 Det 4 	07 Feb 98 - 06 Aug 98 	Tarawa (LHA 1) 
    HC-11 Det 2 	09 Jun 98 - 08 Dec 98 	Camden (AOE 2) 
    HC-11 Det 5 	27 Jun 98 - 21 Dec 98 	Essex (LHD 2)
    

VERTREP operations involve the replenishment of ships at sea using helicopters. It calls for flexibility, skill, and a keen sense of situational awareness. Due to the demands of the fleet, missions are carried out night or day, often in adverse weather conditions. These operations have become a critical link in sustaining battle group mission readiness. The incorporation of the helicopter for supply efforts has greatly reduced the alongside time required for conventional replenishment by highline, thereby increasing maneuverability of the fleet.

In addition to the primary missions, HC-11 provides a multitude of other essential services to the fleet. Day and Night Search and Rescue, Medical Evacuations, Personnel Transfers and Special Operations, just to name a few. The parent command, or homeguard, diligently supports Southern California fleet operations and training requirements ashore and in the waters off the west coast of the United States.

The Boeing Vertol H-46 "Seaknight" is the platform from which HC-11 accomplishes the majority of its missions. It is capable of carrying up to 18 passengers, has a lift capability of three tons and a maximum airspeed of 145 knots. Due to the tandem rotor configuration, the H-46 is not limited by wind restrictions associated with tail rotor helicopters, allowing it a wider range of flight profiles and expanding its operational capabilities.

HC-11 also employs the Sikorsky "Sea King" H-3, which is ideally suited for the VIP support mission and is an excellent Search and Rescue platform. From their inception, the "GUNBEARERS" of HC- 11 have maintained an impressive record. The squadron's performance directly enhances the operational readiness and effectiveness of U.S. Naval Forces from the west coast to the Indian Ocean and around the world.

HSC-21 continues to provide fully qualified Naval Special Warfare crews for each detachment. This includes capabilities for night vision device cast and recoveries, soft duck insertions, aerial gunnery, and Helicopter Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (HVBSS).

With the decommissioning of the UH-3H and CH-46D in May and June 2004, respectively, the BLACKJACKS only airframe is the Sikorsky MH-60S "Knighthawk." The MH-60S has a lift capability of three tons, a cabin that can accommodate 12 passengers, and a maximum airspeed of 180 knots. Boasting a state of the art avionics suite, the "Knighthawk" is the Navy's most technologically advanced helicopter.




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