Military


Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron FOURTEEN [HM-14]
"Vanguard"

Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron FOURTEEN [HM-14], flying the MH-53 Sea Dragon, is one of the largest and unique airborne mine countermeasure squadrons in the Navy. HM-14 is one of the two squadrons Navywide that has integrated a Reserve airborne countermeasures squadron with it's active duty counterpart. With a Reserve compliment of approximately 250 TAR active duty and Selected Air Reservists and 430 regular navy active duty personnel, the "Vanguard" of HM-14 are capable of rapidly deploying anywhere in the world and conduct operations within 72 hours.

Both HM-14 and HM-15 are organized into detachments. Regular Navy officers and Sailors would be the first to deploy on the rapid deployment timeline. Six of the squadrons Sea Dragons would go with them. The second detachment, a combination of active and Reserve officers and Sailors, TARs and SELRES, must be prepared to deploy with them or as replacements. Remaining personnel would be utilized for shore-based training and fleet replacement crews.

HM-14 was established on 12 May 1978, at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia. An independent and self contained operational Airborne Mine Countermeasures MH 53E TOWING THE MK 105 SLED (AMCM) Squadron, today the Vanguard consists of approximately 540 enlisted personnel and 55 officers. The Squadron, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia is under the command of Commander Harry L. Myers. Using the USAF C-5A "Galaxy" and C-141 "Starlifter" transport aircraft or self-lift, the squadron is capable of providing a rapid response AMCM capability to any location in the world where a mining threat may exist. The aircraft used by the squadron in its mine sweeping operations is the Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter.

Since its establishment, HM-14 has conducted a multitude of operations at home and abroad. In 1978, the squadron participated in exercise "Olives Noires" off the coast of Toulon, France and in exercise "Crazy Horse", near LaSpezia, Italy. In April 1980, the squadron embarked on USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69) and deployed to the Indian Ocean for operation "Evening Light" during the Iranian hostage crisis. Elements of the squadron remained in the Indian Ocean until November 1980, when the main body of the squadron rejoined the detachment and established the first AMCM capability in the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf theater. In April 1981, the squadron deployed to Europe for 5 1/2 months as the AMCM element of the first integrated MCM Task Group, along with surface and underwater MCM units. HM-14 earned two Meritorious Unit Commendations during this period.

During 1982, HM-14 participated in two major exercises: Ocean Venture '82, at Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida and CANUS MARCOT 1-82 at Canadian Forces Base Shearwater, Nova Scotia, Canada. The squadron was the recipient of the 1982 Battle "E" Award and the CNO Safety Award. Exercises and AMCM demonstrations in Belgium, Scotland, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Japan, Philippines and South Korea graphically demonstrated to NATO Allies that the U.S. Navy is capable of countering diverse mining threats anywhere in the world.

In June 1984, HM-14 took delivery of the AQS-14 Mine Hunting Sonar and established the fleet's first operational airborne mine hunting capability. In August 1984, the squadron responded to a JCS directed rapid deployment order in support of operation "Intense Look" to conduct split site airborne mine countermeasures operations in the Gulf of Suez in support of the Egyptian Government, and in the Red Sea in support of the Saudi Arabian Government. During these operations the squadron earned the Navy Unit Commendation.

In August 1987, the squadron executed another JCS directed rapid deployment order operating off the USS GUADALCANAL (LPH-7) and USS OKINAWA (LPH-3) in the Arabian Gulf as part of operation "Earnest Will." During these operations, HM-14 was credited with the first live moored mines swept by a U.S. Navy unit since the Korean Conflict. As a result of superb performance in the hostile and extremely demanding environment of the Arabian Gulf, HM-14 received the Navy Unit Commendation and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal.

In October 1990, HM-14 deployed to the Persian Gulf for Operations "Desert Shield" and "Desert Storm." Maintaining a nine month presence in the Persian Gulf and operating from NAS Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., USS TRIPOLI (LPH-10), USS NEW ORLEANS (LPH-11), and USS LASALLE (AGF-3), HM-14 flew over 5315 hours, clearing over 768 square miles of Iraqi mined gulf waters. Together with the surface and EOD elements of the U.S. MCM Group, these actions reestablished mine free passage for commercial and military shipping in the North Arabian Gulf and renewed commerce into and out of Kuwait. For the Vanguard's accomplishments, the Squadron earned the Navy Unit Commendation and Combat Action Award.

In January 1992, HM-14 rapidly deployed via self-lift to Atlantic City, New Jersey for operation "Toxic Look." Searching for several containers of hazardous arsenic which were swept over the side of a cargo ship during high seas, the squadron successfully located the entire spillage area within six days of intense AQS-14 operations. The "Toxic Look" detachment was awarded the Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Award for this action. In March 1992, the squadron deployed to MCAS Cherry Point to participate in exercise "Ocean Venture".

In January of 1993 HM-14 participated in the first integrated exercise at Naval Station Ingleside, Texas. In March of the same year, HM-14 deployed to Northern Europe aboard USS Inchon (LPH12) to participate in "Unified Spirit" and "Blue Harrier '93."

From January of 1994 to August of 1994 the squadron periodically deployed via self lift to Panama City and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to accomplish technical and operational evaluations on the AN/37U moored minesweeping system.

Prior to 1994, the Navy had five helicopter minesweeping squadrons, two active-duty, two Reserve and a fleet readiness squadron. Because of their size and operational costs, the squadrons were phased out. During midyear 1994, the CNO directed the reshaping of the AMCM force structure. Following this major restructuring, there are only two surviving squadrons: HM-15, relocated from Alameda, Calif., to Corpus Christi, Texas, and HM-14 at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Va. The two Reserve squadrons, Alameda-based HM-19 and Norfolk-based HM-18, were disestablished and integrated as the Reserve element of the two active-duty squadrons. The fleet readiness squadron was disestablished.

With integration, HM-14 has 700 officers and Sailors, active and Reserve, 12 MH-53E Sea Dragons and twice the minesweeping equipment it had before. Four officers and 160 enlisted personnel are TARs (Training and Administration of Reserves) who serve full time, to ensure the Selected Reservists (SELRES) - 18 officers and 76 enlisted - receive training for mobilization and peacetime missions. A regular drill weekend is scheduled each month to train and support the majority of the Reserve element. An additional weekend is set aside as "fly weekend" to give Reserve pilots time in the cockpit. Shifts of day, night, weekend and support checks keep the squadron operational 24-hours a day.

In January of 1995 HM-14 participated in "Joint Task Force Exercise 95-2." The squadron performed operations off the coast of North Carolina in support of amphibious assault forces. Six aircraft were deployed aboard the USS Guam (LPH-9).

In March 1995, HM-14 completed an unprecedented integration with their Naval Reserve sister squadron, HM-18. Given the CNO directive to integrate at the squadron level, HM-14 developed a model plan with HM-18 to combine material assets and nearly 700 Regular, TAR and Selected Reserve personnel becoming the first squadron in the Atlantic Fleet to integrate in such a manner. This achievement, combined with the squadron's participation in four major MCM exercises, Fleet Replacement Pilot Training and Fleet Support implementation while amassing over 4000 mishap free flight hours set the standard in AMCM and Air Logistics excellence and culminated in the awarding of the 1995 Battle "E" and CNO Safety Awards.

In July 1995 the squadron participated in "Joint Task Force Exercise 95-3". Four aircraft detached to MCAS New River to conduct operations. Three aircraft were stationed aboard the USS Ponce (LPD-15). Once again, HM-14 presented it's adaptability and flexibility by performing split operations successfully.

From March to June 1996, HM-14 participated in two major NATO exercises: WESTLANT MCMV Phases I, II, & IV and CJTFEX 96 (Purple Star). These exercises employed separate detachments in Charleston, SC, New River, NC, Halifax, Nova Scotia and split site operations on the USS Shreveport (LPD-12) and at New River, NC, over a four month period.

In January of 1997 HM-14 participated in the "Gulf of Mexico Exercise (GOMEX 97-1)". This exercise was conducted as a final workup for the EURO 97 deployment. In February of 1997, the squadron embarked onboard the USS Inchon (MCS-12) under the operational command of Commander Mine Countermeasures Squadron TWO. In April of 1997, HM-14 participated in the "Blue Harrier 97" which was conducted in the Kattegat Straits near Denmark. This exercise was NATO's largest and most comprehensive mine warfare exercise. May of 1997 brought forth another exercise for the "Vanguard" of HM-14 in the exercise "Olives Vertes". The squadron participated with seven NATO mine warfare forces during this exercise. In June of 1997 the squadron participated in "Alcudra 97". This exercise included mine warfare participants from 8 NATO countries. HM-14 conducted both mine hunting and logistical operations during "Alcudra 97". "EURO 97" exercise concluded in July resulting in the longest scheduled deployment of an AMCM squadron in 11 years. In November of 1997 HM-14 conducted an in-house exercise "Vulcanex 98-1".

In March of 1998 HM-14 conducted "UK Exercise" in the Virginia Capes (VACAPES) operating area. In April the squadron self-lifted to Corpus Christi, TX and embarked on the USS Inchon for workups and deployment to the North Atlantic. HM14 and USS Inchon participated in "Marcot 98" off the coast of Newfoundland, which was the largest NATO amphibious exercise in more than a decade. In July of 1998, HM-14 conducted exercise "STANAVFOCHAN" in the VACAPES operating area. This exercise was a follow on NATO MCM exercise to "Marcot 98".

In March 1999 HM-14 deployed four aircraft with HM-15 to the Mediterranean Sea on the USS Inchon. While in the European theater HM-14 and the USS Inchon were diverted to the Adriatic Sea to participate in "Shining Hope", a humanitarian relief operation for the Kosovar refugees in Albania. In June two HM-14 aircraft relocated onboard the USS Kearsarge from the USS Inchon to participate in "Joint Guardian", a NATO peacekeeping operation in Kosovo. Also in March, HM-14 flew six aircraft to the west coast and embarked onboard the USS Bonhomme-Richard to participate in the "Kernel Blitz 99" exercise off the coast of southern California. In August HM-14 established the first forward deployed permanent AMCM detachment, composed of four aircraft and 90 personnel, in the Persian Gulf based in Bahrain. In September HM14 rescued and helped distressed North Carolinians during the "Hurricane Floyd" relief effort. In November following the Egyptian Air tragedy, HM-14, under the command of COMPHIBGRU TWO, conducted logistic support operations off the coast of Nantucket for the FBI, NTSB, and Coast Guard.




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