Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron SEVEN [HELASRON HS-7]
As of 2003, HS-7 was scheduled to be redesignated Helicopter Sea Combat Wing HSC-7 in January of 2008. This change reflected the switch to the MH-60S Knighthawk and the merger of Helicopter Tactical Wing, Atlantic Fleet [HELTACWINGLANT] and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Wing, Atlantic Fleet [HSWINGLANT] into Helicopter Sea Combat Wing, Atlantic Fleet [HELSEACOMBATWINGLANT].
Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron SEVEN is one of five East Coast operational fleet helicopter squadrons tasked with antisubmarine warfare (ASW), search and rescue, airborne utility services, and combat search and rescue. HS 7 flies the SH-60F and HH-60H, both single rotary wing, twin turbine powered helicopters.
Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron SEVEN was originally established in April 1956 at Naval Air Station, Norfolk, Virginia for the mission of harbor defense. HS-7 was soon assigned the role of ASW support for the fleet. HS-7 served aboard USS VALLEY FORGE (CVS-45) while flying the Sikorsky HSS-1 helicopter, and are pictured here at left taking off from the ship's flight deck on 18 July 1958. The squadron was disestablished on May 31, 1966 and established again at Naval Air Station, Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on December 15, 1969. The official insignia (shown on the left) was redesigned to a configuration similar to the design you see today (shown below). During the 1970's, the Shamrocks of HS-7 deployed to a variety of locations, including Vietnam and the Mediterranean Sea. In 1973, HS-7 joined Carrier Air Wing THREE, changed homeports to Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Florida, and transitioned to the SH-3H helicopter.
From 1981 to 1993, the Shamrocks deployed on board the USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV-67), and were called upon to serve during Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, and PROVIDE PROMISE. In December of 1993, the Shamrocks and Carrier Air Wing THREE shifted to USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69) and in early 1994 became the first operational HS squadron to embark with women. HS-7 was called upon in September 1994 to support "IKE" off the coast of Haiti during Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, and later supported the IKE/CVW 3 team flying in the Arabian Gulf during Operation Southern Watch and in the Adriatic Sea during Operations Deny Flight and Provide Promise. Upon return from deployment in 1995, the Shamrocks transitioned to the Sikorsky SH-60F and HH-60H, and completed their first deployment flying these new aircraft aboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) in May 1997.
Following the transition to the H-60 aircraft, the design of the unit insignia was updated to reflect the silhouette of today's aircraft. Green and white are the colors assigned to the Shamrocks of HS 7 and are prominent in the design. The seven stars across the top reflect the seven stars in the "Big Dipper" constellation, which served as the original insignia for the squadron (shown above). The aircraft with its sonar, submarine and aircraft carrier are all graphically depicted. The lightning bolts converging on the submarine illustrate the destructive power of the SH-60F and HH-60H weapons system and the men and women who wield them in the defense of the United States.
HS-7 returned from a six month deployment on board USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) which included participation in Operations DESERT FOX and DELIBERATE FORGE. They began preparing to deploy on board USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN-75) in late 2000.
HS-7 answers to the call sign "Dusty Dog" and provides the Navy with carrier vital-zone ASW defense, search and rescue, logistics, anti-ship missile defense, and combat search and rescue capabilities. In addition to aircraft carrier operations, the Shamrocks provide detachments to air capable ships and regularly conduct ASW training at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center, Andros Island, Bahamas, and combat search and rescue (CSAR) and special warfare support training at NAS Fallon, Nevada.
HS-7's accomplishments have been acknowledged by numerous awards. Recent awards include the 1996 CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor award; the Commander, Helicopter Antisubmarine Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Maintenance Excellence Award for the first half of 1997; the 1997 Commander, Carrier Air Wing Three "Golden Wrench" Award for JTG 97-1 deployment; the 1997 Helicopter Antisubmarine Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet nomination for the Secretary of Defense Phoenix Award for Maintenance Excellence; and the Commander, Carrier Air Wing Three "Golden Wrench" Award for JTG 99-1 deployment.
By May 2001 the Dusty Dogs of HS-7, embarked onboard the USS Harry S Truman (CVN-75) as a versatile element of Carrier Air Wing THREE (CVW-3), were in the homestretch of JTG 01-1 Deployment Cycle. The previous six months had been arduous ones for the Dusty Dogs, as they participated in a variety of operational and training exercises from the scenic shores of Tunisia to the desert heat of Kuwait. These detachments allowed the Dusty Dogs to maintain their readiness in Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) and Naval Special Warfare (NSW) as well as train with their counterparts in the Tunisian Air Force and the U.S. Army. The Dusty Dogs also continued to excel in their other mission areas flying the H-60F/H Seahawk. Despite a wide spectrum of operational mission tasking, the Dusty Dogs continually displayed the highest level of professionalism and dedication to duty and country throughout JTG 01-1 Deployment.
The first detachment for the Dusty Dogs took place from the 12th to the 17th of December in Bizerte, Tunisia. No other HS squadron in recent memory has operated with the Tunisian Air Force, let alone in Tunisia itself. According to one of the pilots on the detachment, LT Paul Fermo, HS-7's Quality Assurance Officer, the training was very worthwhile. "Operating in Tunisia was an experience to remember," LT Fermo said. "The countryside we operated in was beautiful as were the beaches." The Dusty Dogs sharpened their proficiency at CSAR, in particular flying low level routes, tactical landings, and night vision goggle (NVG) low level flying. Commander Kevin M. Kenney, Executive Officer of HS-7, was the Officer-in-Charge of the HS-7 detachment and received kudos from Vice Admiral Johnson, Commander Sixth Fleet, for his exceptional leadership during the time in Tunisia.
The first detachment to Camp Doha, Kuwait took place in January 2001. During the 10-day detachment, the Dusty Dogs continued to sharpen their CSAR proficiency as well as work with the Navy SEALS. In working with the SEALS, the Dusty Dogs participated in such activities as flying with snipers onboard (SNIPEREX) and Parachute Operations (PARADROP) from 10,000 feet. The Dustys also shared the experience of living in Kuwait with their U.S. Army counterparts stationed at Camp Doha. Ironically, the Apache Unit operating at Camp Doha was Task Force 111 (AH-64 Apache's), out of Jacksonville's very own Craig Field. AWCS (AW/NAC) John Hatfield, the senior Naval Aircrewman during the detachment, thoroughly enjoyed the time spent in Kuwait. "Training with the Navy SEALS and learning of the Kuwaiti environment from our Army counterparts was thrilling," AWCS Hatfield expressed. "Although there were times we had to deal with the weather conditions, the training that was completed was worthwhile."
The month of February began for the "Dustys" with another detachment to Camp Doha, Kuwait. This detachment, however, was not for any unit level training. The mission of this detachment was to participate in Maritime Interception Operations (MIO). The purpose of Maritime Interception Operations is to enforce the United Nations resolutions, which prohibit oil from leaving Iraq, unless it is part of the oil for food program. United Nation Security Council Resolutions 665 and 986 call on all nations with maritime powers to enforce the embargo on Iraq. By enforcing the U.N. Resolutions, the Dusty Dog detachment was instrumental in halting the smuggling of 2,300 metric tons of oil worth $460,000 U.S. dollars.
The Dusty Dogs of HS-7 worked with several U.S. Naval units and Special Warfare assets to enforce these United Nations resolutions. LT James Yslas, HS-7's Aircraft Division Officer, was an active participant in the MIO surge. "Participating in the MIO Surge was very exciting because we're not just training but are getting involved in a real-world operation," said LT Yslas. "Being on the 'tip of the spear' and enforcing U.N. resolutions was a great experience."
The end of February 2001 again saw the Dusty Dogs in action. This time the "Dustys" found themselves participating in a Combat Search and Rescue Exercise (CSAREX) with assistance from U.S. Air Force and Royal Air Force (British) assets also stationed in the Middle East. The aim of the CSAREX was to practice a real life scenario of a pilot down behind enemy lines awaiting rescue by friendly forces. LT Dennis Vigeant, HS-7's CSAR/ASW/NSW Officer, was one of the participants in the CSAREX. "The CSAREX was quite beneficial," LT Vigeant stated. "Participating in a Joint Exercise allowed us to demonstrate our capabilities as well as to learn how our joint brethren do business. Hopefully this will give the theatre commanders greater confidence in the Navy's ability to perform the CSAR mission." For the remainder of JTG 01-1 Deployment, the Dusty Dogs continued to maintain their readiness in CSAR and NSW with numerous single day flights into Camp Doha, Kuwait.
Because of the operational commitments to Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, the Dusty Dogs placed a great emphasis on CSAR and NSW readiness. Due to the multi-mission capabilities of the Dusty Dogs, however, the training did not stop there. The 'Dustys' continued to maintain their operational readiness in their other mission areas of Search and Rescue (SAR), Undersea Warfare (USW), Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP), and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW).
The 'Dustys' maintained their SAR readiness through continuous training in Planeguard station while maintaining USW training and readiness with the USS ALEXANDRIA (SSN-757). In the month of March, two USW exercises were coordinated with the ALEXANDRIA through the tireless efforts of LCDR Todd Flannery, HS-7's Operations Officer, and LT Dennis Vigeant. The exercises were great successes, as the training allowed progress in the USW syllabus for all pilots involved as well as actual sonar contact with a live submarine for the Aircrewman. Throughout JTG 01-1 Deployment, the Dusty Dogs were repeatedly called upon to perform VERTREP for the TRUMAN. From ammunition and U.S. Mail to food for the crew of the TRUMAN, the 'Dustys' performed VERTREP from the U.S. Naval Service (USNS) supply ships USNS MOUNT BAKER, USNS KANAWHA and USNS PECOS. Furthermore, throughout JTG 01-1 Deployment, the Dusty Dogs were called upon to MEDEVAC numerous personnel from the other ships in the TRUMAN battle group to either the TRUMAN or into the nearest shore facility. Most notably, the 'Dustys' were involved in the rescue of an Iranian fisherman in the waters of the Arabian Gulf in the month of March. Dusty 610 spotted an Iranian fisherman during a routine logistic mission to the USS Arleigh BURKE (DDG-51). As soon as the Iranian fisherman was diagnosed with appendicitis by the medical team from the BURKE, Dusty 610, which consisted of the CO, CDR Andrew Macyko, LCDR Bob Irwin, AW2 Josh Benshoff, and AW3 Sean Navin, brought the fisherman onboard the TRUMAN for further medical evaluations. The Iranian fisherman was eventually returned to Iran once he was given a clean bill of health by the TRUMAN medical team.
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