Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SIX [HC-6]
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO SIX [HSC-26]
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron TWO SIX's (HSC-26) primary mission is to rapidly disperse supplies from Atlantic Fleet Combat Logistic Force (CLF) ships to other units of the Second, Fifth and Sixth fleets via vertical replenishment, day or night, under a variety of weather conditions. Other HC-6 missions include Passenger transfers; Day and night Search And Rescue; support to amphibious ships assigned to the Second, Fifth, and Sixth fleets; Surface surveillance; Special operations with SEAL and EOD teams; Night vision goggle operations; and general logistic support in the VACAPES operating area.
On April 1, 2005, HC-6 was redesignated HSC-26 to reflect its transition to the MH-60S. This change was also due to the merging of Helicopter Combat Support and the Helicopter Anti-Submarine communities into Helicopter Sea Combat Squadrons. With this redesignations, HSC-26 has begun advanced Naval Special Warfare training, including Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), training as a Mine-Countermeasures platform, and assumed Amphibious Warfare responsibilities.
Helicopter Combat Support Squadron SIX (HC-6) traces its lineage back to Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, where in 1948 the Navy established its second helicopter squadron, Helicopter Utility Squadron TWO (HU-2). In 1952, HU-2 Detachment ONE was established at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. This detachment of five officers and 20 enlisted provided local utility and Search and Rescue (SAR) services for the Norfolk area. It is from this detachment, the "Chargers" of HC-6 were born. In the ensuing years, the versatility of the helicopters proved vital to naval aviation and its support of the fleet. Continued technological advancement and increased dependability allowed the helicopter community to play and expanding role in naval operations. On 1 July 1960, HU-4 was established, assuming half of HU-2's missions and fulfilling the expanded need of the fleet for helicopter services. HU-2 Detachment ONE was transferred to the new commissioned HU-4 and redesignated HU-4 Detachment ONE.
Originally the detachment utilized two types of helicopters the H-25 HUP and H-43C HUK for support of the primary mission of SAR. As capabilities of helicopters became more fully realized, the H-34 Sea Horse and UH-2B Sea sprite were added to the complement of aircraft. The HUP and HUK were eventually retired and the Sea sprite was transferred from the organization. These were replaced by the H-46 Sea Knight and RH-3A Sea King.
New requirements developed and the complexity of helicopter missions intensified. In 1965 all helicopter utility squadrons were redesignated Combat Support (HC). Eighteen months later the based detachment became HC-4 Detachment Norfolk. The following were integrated in the combat support mission: Search and Rescue; Commander in Chief Atlantic Fleet (CINCLANTFLT) and local command transfer service; Implementation of the new concept, "Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP)"; and experimentation in development of Fleet Airborne Mine Countermeasures.
By 1967 the detachment had grown larger than many fleet squadrons. Consequently, on 1 September 1967, HC-4 Detachment Norfolk was established as HC-6. The squadron boasted a wardroom of 54 officers, 300 enlisted personnel and a complement of three UH-34 Sea Horses, two SH-3A Sea King Executive Helicopters and eight UH-46 Sea Knight helicopters. HC-6 Continued to evolve with VERTREP becoming the primary mission. To support the VERTREP demands more tandem rotor Sea Knights were added and by 1969, all the squadron's Sea Horses were retired. By the conclusion of 1970, HC-6's mission had evolved into: Vertical Replenishment; Aerial Mine Countermeasures; Search and Rescue; Aerial Photography; Assistance in training Special Forces Personnel; and Local area utility functions including CINCLANTFLT and Local command transfer service.
Aerial Mine Countermeasures proved valuable and minesweeping configured CH-53's began arriving. HC-6 Detachment 53 was tasked with operationally employing minesweeping. In 1971 the navy deemed the mission a viable and effective specialty and HC-6 spawned Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron TWELVE (HM-12).
Throughout the early seventies the VERTREP mission expanded. HC-6 was tasked to provide, on a rotational basis, two aircraft detachments for Second Fleet replenishment ships (CLFs) deployed in support of Sixth Fleet. VERTREP had become a primary mode of resupplying ships at see. Some detachments were VERTREPING as much as 85 percent of replenishment ships' cargo, providing support of U.S. Forces in the Republic of Vietnam.
The squadron continued to conduct a myriad of logistical support missions, including drone recoveries, Search and Rescue, and photographic operations as well as assisting in UDT/SEAL/PARA Team training.
In 1984, having grown to over 500 officers and enlisted with thirty-one aircraft, HC-6 split once again and the HC-8 Dragon Whales were established as the second Norfolk HC squadron, HC-6 retained a complement of 15 H-46's and 4 UH-3's, continuing to provide helicopter support for the CINCLANTFLT as well as the Unified Services Commander and his staff. This mission remained under the cognizance of HC-6 until 1987 when it, as well as the remaining UH-3's, were turned over to the newly formed HC-2. For the first time, HC-6 consisted exclusively of H-46 aircraft.
In fall 1992, HC-6 assumed the additional responsibility of providing Amphibious Ready Group Search and Rescue (SAR) assets. With the new mission the squadron grew to ten total detachments (six CLF, four Amphib SAR) and over 400 personnel. The first amphibious SAR detachment deployed on USS WASP (LHD-1) in October 1992, launching a new era for HC-6. The first fully night vision device capable SAR detachment deployed aboard the USS GUAM (LPH-9) in February 1994, expanding the HH-46D's capabilities.
During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, HC-6 provided invaluable Fleet Logistics support, deploying five of its seven detachments. These detachments flew over 2,800 hours while transporting 5,845 passengers, 19,267 tons of VERTREP, 586 tons of internal cargo and 487,200 pounds of mail.
During 1999, HC-6 flew 6,104.3 hours while transporting 5,629 passengers, 10,276.8 tons of VERTREP, 1,351.3 tons of internal cargo and 99.9 tons of mail. HC-6 and its deployed detachments also completed 21 SAR missions with 731 rescues, 31 MEDEVACS, and 11 drone recoveries.
During 2002, HC-6 began its transition to the MH-60S Knighthawk. The Sikorsky made Knighthawk was chosen by our military leaders to be the future Naval Helicopter workhorse, replacing the aging H-46. In an effort to reduce the operational cost of the Naval Helicopter Fleet, the CNO approved and released the Helo Masterplan and the Helo CONOPS (concept of operations). The idea was to reduce to the overall number of helicopter airframes to two (the MH-60S and the SH-60R), thereby reducing cost by minimizing the number of different parts required to keep all the airframes operational. Additionally, the inter-related plans outlined the future roles and requirements for Naval Helicopter Squadron. While Helicopter CONOPS will eventually affect all Naval Helicopter Squadrons, HC-6 was the first east coast squadron to begin the inevitable transition, assuming the responsibility of adopting the Navy's newest and most advanced helicopter airframe ever, as well as, gaining additional primary mission areas.
By the end of 2002, the 1st ever east coast MH-60S detachment deployed from HC-6 in Norfolk aboard the USNS Mt. Baker. This Det was followed shortly by 2 additional MH-60S detachments deploying in January 2003 onboard the USS Saipan and USS Bataan respectively. All three Detachments performed superbly during their support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, proving once and for all that the MH-60S had arrived and would indeed be the helicopter workhorse the Navy had intended it to be. Since that time numerous other MH-60S detachments have deployed, each bringing home well deserved accolades further re-emphasizing the Knighthawk's effectiveness. As a result, HC-6 was awarded the Battle 'E' award in both 2002 and 2003.
In accordance with the aforementioned CONOPS, on April 1st, 2005, the joining of the Helsuppron (HC) and HelAntiSubron (HS) communities into Helicopter Sea Combat Squadrons (HSC) was officially indoctrinated and HC-6 was redesignated HSC-26.
Major HC Squadron Deployments, 1998 Squadron Dates Ship HC-6 Det 4 21 Aug 9719 Feb 98 Concord (TAFS 5) HC-6 Det 3 3 Oct 973 Apr 98 Guam (LPH 9) HC-6 Det 7 26 Feb 981 Jul 98 Santa Barbara (AE 28) HC-6 Det 5 15 May 989 Nov 98 Concord (TAFS 5) HC-6 Det 1 1 Jul 989 Dec 98 Saipan (LHA 2) HC-6 Det 6 6 Nov 985 May 99 Detroit (AOE 4)
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