Military


Sea Control Squadron 30 [VS-30]
"DiamondCutters"

Sea Control Squadron Thirty remains prepared to conduct sustained combat operations from aircraft carriers in any environment to support National Command Authority objectives as promulgated by the Battle Group Commander, the Battle Group Strike Warfare Commander, and the Battle Group Sea Combat Commander. In the ever evolving world of naval aviation, VS-30 has helped keep the S-3B Viking on the cutting edge. They have accomplished this by adapting to a changing enemy threat and incorporating new weapons and technology.

During the post World War II years, TBM Avenger squadron VC-801 served as a component of the demobilized reserve Carrier ASW forces. On 1 August 1950, VC-801 was re-designated VS-801 at Miami, Florida, with 18 TBM-3E Avengers. The squadron was recalled to active duty on 1 February 1951 due to the military mobilization associated with the outbreak of the Korean War and moved its home station to NAS Norfolk, Virginia. In February of 1952, the squadron received its first AF-2S and AF-2W "Guardian" aircraft to replace the aging Avenger.

On 1 April 1953, Air Antisubmarine Squadron 801 was re-designated Air Antisubmarine Squadron THIRTY. During these early years, the squadron's emblem was developed from the original theme of the hunter "cat" stalking its prey. VS-30 transitioned to the Grumman S-2F Tracker in October 1954. The squadron deployed on "straight deck" CVS antisubmarine carriers to the Atlantic, Caribbean and Mediterranean Sea.

In June of 1960, VS-30 changed its base of operations from Norfolk, Virginia to NAS Key West, Florida and was designated the S-2 TRACKER Readiness Training Squadron for the Atlantic Fleet. As the East Coast training squadron, VS-30 earned the nickname "DIAMONDCUTTERS", by taking "nuggets" fresh from the training command and honing their skills to the fine edge needed to be fleet aviators. In October 1962, VS-30 crews integrated into fleet squadrons during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In order to consolidate all Atlantic Fleet VS assets at a single sight, VS-30 was directed to relocate its men and machines to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, in July 1970. VS-30 continued its primary mission of indoctrinating and training pilots, aircrewman, and maintenance personnel, compiling an impressive safety record of more than 50,000 accident free flight hours and earning several commendations for exemplary service. With the closure of NAS Quonset Point, VS-30 made another permanent move in September 1973 to NAS Cecil Field, Florida. The Diamondcutters continued to train S-2 aircrews and maintenance personnel. Eventually, VS-30 took over S-2 training for both the Atlantic and Pacific Fleets as well as training for crews from Argentina, Turkey, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and South Korea.

On 1 April 1976, after 22 years of flying the S-2 TRACKER, VS-30 became an operational fleet squadron and transitioned to the S-3A VIKING. The squadron received training in the maintenance and tactical utilization of their new aircraft at NAS North Island, California. The Diamondcutters began their first operational deployment with the S-3A in April 1978 aboard USS FORRESTAL (CV 59) as part of Carrier Air Wing SEVENTEEN (CVW 17).

Returning from the Mediterranean in October 1978, the Diamondcutters began preparing for their second Mediterranean Deployment with the S-3A, which began in November 1979. During this deployment, VS-30, CVW-17, and the USS FORRESTAL were members of the first Carrier Battle Group since World War II to be the only Carrier Battle Group in the Mediterranean. The Diamondcutters returned in May 1980 and deployed again to the Mediterranean aboard the USS FORRESTAL in March 1981. This third deployment included operations in the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean with support of the Battle Group's participation in the Palestinian evacuation of Lebanon. VS-30's fifth Viking deployment was in April 1984 aboard USS SARATOGA (CV 60) to the Mediterranean Sea. This deployment included the major NATO exercise DRAGON HAMMER where the Diamondcutters continued to reach new flight hour and sortie completion milestones.

After a ten-month turnaround, the Diamondcutters deployed again in August 1985 to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean aboard USS SARATOGA on the most eventful cruise in history. This deployment included operations in support of national tasking during the ACHILLE LAURO hijacking crisis, the first ever night transit of the Suez Canal by a U.S. warship, and the crossing of the equator for the first time in squadron history. During this period VS-30 was the only S-3A squadron deployed from the East Coast. Later in the deployment, the squadron provided continuous surveillance support during three freedom of navigation operations in the vicinity of Libya.

The squadron returned from the seven and one-half month deployment in April 1986 and, following a fourteen-month turnaround, again deployed to the Mediterranean Sea aboard USS SARATOGA. During this highly successful deployment VS-30 was awarded the COMSIXTHFLT 'HOOK-EM" Award for ASW excellence and was nominated for the Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy. VS-30 returned to NAS Cecil Field in November 1987.

In February 1988, VS-30 was awarded its first COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency Award and its third CNO Aviation Safety Award. In May 1988, VS-30 participated in a highly successful joint exercise with the Colombian Navy. Following the squadron's return from Colombia, VS-30 was awarded its first CAPT Arnold J. Isbell Award and the Admiral John S. Thatch Award for USW excellence. In July 1988, VS-30 became the first fleet squadron to receive the enhanced capability Harpoon/ISAR equipped S-3B. In August 1988, the squadron deployed aboard USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62) for the "Around the Horn" cruise.

On 7 August 1990, the Diamondcutters deployed with Carrier Air Wing Seventeen onboard USS SARATOGA to the Red Sea as part of the UN Coalition Forces in direct support of Operations DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM. The S-3B was used in every facet of naval forces tasking during maritime interdiction and in subsequent strike operations against Iraq during Operation DESERT STORM. VS-30 returned to NAS Cecil Field after a seven and one-half month deployment during which squadron aircrews flew in more than 44 strikes and compiled 1,230 flight hours in 258 combat sorties.

VS-30 deployed on USS SARATOGA again on 5 May 1992, the squadron's ninth Viking cruise. The ensuing six month Mediterranean deployment included large scale NATO exercise, DISPLAY DETERMINATION. VS-30 had a banner year in 1992 - in addition to flying 4,188 flight hours, the squadron won its second COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Efficiency Award, its fourth CNO Aviation Safety Award, and its second CAPT Arnold J. Isbell Award for USW excellence.

On 12 January 1994, the Diamondcutters embarked aboard USS SARATOGA for her farewell deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. Again VS-30 provided large scale support to NATO forces involved in peace keeping efforts in the Adriatic Sea off the coast of Bosnia-Herzegovina. While supplying the SARATOGA Joint Task Group with a variety of vital missions in support of Operations DENY FLIGHT, PROVIDE PROMISE, and SHARP GUARD, the Diamondcutters distinguished themselves by collecting vital Electronic Intelligence, assuming Surface Combat Air Patrol responsibilities, and providing direct support for strike elements as airborne tankers. VS-30 also participated in numerous joint NATO and bi-lateral exercises including NOBLE STALLION, DYNAMIC IMPACT, and ILES D'OR, operating with forces from more than a dozen countries. After completing 1,620 fours of flight and over 660 traps in MED 1-94 deployment, VS-30 returned home having earned a second COMSIXTHFLT "HOOK-EM" Award for USW excellence and the CVW-17 1-94 squadron "TOP HOOK" Award.

June 28, 1996 marked the Diamondcutters first deployment aboard the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65). The ENTERPRISE had just finished going through an extensive five year overhaul in the Newport News shipyards. This Med deployment was marked by operations in both the Mediterranean and the Arabian Gulf. Aircrew flew in support of Operation DECISIVE ENDEAVOR with NATO forces in the former Yugoslavia. After a record setting high-speed transit through the Suez Canal and around the Arabian Peninsula, VS-30 participated in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH over southern Iraq along with the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70). It was the first time that more than one aircraft carrier had been in the Gulf since the Gulf War in 1991.

Following the 1996 deployment, VS-30 experienced an unprecedented draw down of material assets making aircraft availability poor. As COMTUEX approached in January of 1998, the squadron was challenged with building two aircraft that had been down for nearly a year and bringing on-line the remaining six. The Diamondcutters' exceptionally hard work paid large dividends when the squadron deployed on time for COMTUEX with all eight aircraft. During COMTUEX, a Diamondcutter crew expended an AGM-84 Harpoon missile scoring a direct hit on a small exercise target. All squadron aircrew became torpedo and mine qualified during COMTUEX or during the squadron's split NAS Fallon/NAS North Island weapons detachments. Finally, when an unexpected delay in deployment occurred, the squadron was able to qualify 80 percent of its aircrew as MAVERICK operators during the POM period despite receiving its MAVERICK aircraft just two weeks prior to JTFEX. CVW-17 elected to conduct the Air Wing's NAS Fallon detachment between COMTUEX and JTFEX vice the traditional schedule of NAS Fallon-COMTUEX-JTFEX. The schedule change was made in order to boost Strike Warfare readiness levels closer to deployment date and to ensure a higher percentage of deploying aircrew would experience the strike training offered at Fallon. One adverse effect of conducting the Air Wing's NAS Fallon detachment after COMTUEX, vice before, is a large portion of the squadron's aircrew would be unable to attain major qualifications such as TORPEXs and MINEXs. In order to combat this problem, the Diamondcutters conducted a split detachment to NAS North Island for TORPEX/MINEX qualifications and to NAS Fallon for Air Wing strike training. This gave the squadron the necessary qualifications late enough in the turnaround training cycle to ensure proper readiness level throughout the deployment.

The Diamondcutters completed an intense work-up cycle on May 6th, 1998 which included several detachments to NS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, NAS Fallon, Eglin AFB, and seven at sea periods on the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN-69). On June 10th, 1998 the squadron deployed with CVW-17 on the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER. While on deployment, the squadron participated in several multi-national exercises including SHAREM 125 and FANCY '98 in the Mediterranean, Operation DELIBERATE FORGE in the Adriatic, and Operation SOUTHERN WATCH in the Arabian Gulf.

When the EISENHOWER Battle Group was sent to the Adriatic Sea in support of possible strikes in Kosovo, the Diamondcutters were tasked with providing the majority of the surface surveillance and SUCAP. VS-30 aircraft provided continuous battle group coverage during flying hours which facilitated a nearly continuous S-3B MAVERICK presence. Additionally, the S-3B was the primary airborne asset to counter any possible threat posed by submarines, so every Diamondcutter aircraft was armed with torpedoes.

Perhaps more importantly, the squadron used its time on deployment to focus some of its tactical efforts on several weapon systems, which were new to the Sea Control community. The new systems included the AGM-65F Maverick missile and the AWW-13 Data Link Pod which can be used to control data link weapons such as the AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM) and the AGM-62 Walleye. Very little information was available on actually employing the MAVERICK missile against specific threats while maintaining standoff from the target's defensive capabilities. Upon evaluating the threat capabilities and consulting the Threat Reference Guide and Counter tactics publication, VS-30 personnel developed standard MAVERICK delivery profiles. The profiles provided an effective sanctuary while being able to deliver a MAVERICK attack against virtually any target in the Adriatic Sea. The squadron achieved their primary objective of developing and implementing a training syllabus on the Maverick missile, and successfully attained a 100% qualification rate among crewmembers. Along with the training syllabus, combat checklists were created to accompany the successful tactics that were being perfected for the Maverick.

VS-30 was highly effective in screening the heavy traffic areas of the Arabian Gulf for contacts of interest. Many of these areas were too close to land to allow visual identification, so the Diamondcutters used the APS-137 Radar with its unique ISAR capability and ESM information to help sort out the hundreds of contacts that hugged the coastline. The squadron aggressively sought to use the AWW-13 data link pod to control weapons carried by other air wing assets. The Diamondcutters became the first fleet S-3B squadron to control an AGM-62 WALLEYE CATM in flight. WALLEYE control was performed several more times throughout deployment simulating coordinated attacks by S-3B's and F/A-18's on surface ships and littoral targets of opportunity. The VS-30 Diamondcutters went on to finish their deployment and returned to NAS Jacksonville on 10 December 1998.

In October of 1999, the Diamondcutters participated in the Sea Control Advanced Readiness Program (SCARP) at NAS Fallon, NV in preparation for their June 2000 deployment aboard the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73). During SCARP, VS-30 aircrews delivered various types of ordnance and practiced detecting various early warning sites using the ALR-76 Electronic Support Measures System. The Diamondcutters will be the first Viking squadron to deploy with the new Carrier Airborne Inertial Navigation System II (CAINS II) which includes the Electronic Flight Instruments (i.e. glass cockpit display). The squadron has met the requirements to receive the Naval Safety Center twenty year Class "A" Mishap Free Award and also was nominated for the "PHOENIX" award for Maintenance Efficiency in 1999.

In preparation for its June 2000 deployment aboard the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN-73), the Diamondcutters from Sea Control Squadron 30 (VS-30) trained at NAS Fallon for three weeks. The Diamondcutters, along with the other squadrons which comprise Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17), completed intense integrated tactical training evolutions designed by the Naval Strike Air Warfare Center (NSAWC). The mission of the training period was to hone skills, identify strengths, expose weaknesses, and improve the ability to execute as an integrated Air Wing.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list