Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light [HSL-37]
Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light THIRTY-SEVEN (HSL-37) is composed of 50 officers and 180 enlisted personnel who maintain and operate ten SH-60B helicopters. HSL-37 was established on 3 July, 1975 aboard Naval Air Station, Barbers Point, Hawaii, as the third operational Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) squadron in the Pacific Fleet. On 6 February 1992, HSL-37 became the first and only US Navy helicopter squadron to transition from the SH-2F "Seasprite" LAMPS MK I to the SH-60B "Seahawk" LAMPS MK III. HSL-37 operated as a composite LAMPS MK I/MK III squadron until 1 October 1993, at which time it completed the transition to the SH-60B. The mission of the "EASYRIDERS" is to provide highly trained, combat-ready LAMPS detachments to the ships of the Pacific Fleet Surface Force.
As an integral department of the ship, the LAMPS detachment extends shipboard weapons delivery and sensor capabilities through the employment of the versatile and reliable "Seahawk" helicopter, manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft of Stratford, Connecticut. A LAMPS detachment typically consists of one or two SH-60 helicopters, four to six pilots, two or three sensor operators and nine to twelve maintenance technicians. The LAMPS MK III primary missions include Surface Warfare, and Undersea Warfare. The aircraft also provides a wide variety of support and utility missions throughout the battle group, including search and rescue, vertical replenishment, personnel and cargo transfer, and medical evacuation.
Since establishment, the "EASYRIDERS" have deployed over 117 LAMPS detachments, around the globe. As the only LAMPS squadron in the Middle-Pacific (MIDPAC) region, HSL-37 provides support for MIDPAC units during Combat System Sea Qualification Trials (CSSQT) at the Pacific Missile Range Facility Barking Sands, on the island of Kauai. Support for MIDPAC and use of this facility hones HSL-37's flight crews and maintenance technicians to the highest level of combat readiness.
In 1998, aircrew from HSL-37 became the first to fire AGM-114B Hellfire missiles against a simulated high-speed maneuvering target boat. This action not only demonstrated the tactical proficiency of HSL-37 aircrews but also the rapidly growing war fighting capability of the LAMPS MK III aircraft
Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron (Light) 37 began operations at their new home aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), Kaneohe Bay on 01 March 1999. HSL-37 was the first of several squadrons and activities that moved from Naval Air Station Barbers Point to MCBH in the followng months, in preparation for the air station's closure in July 1999. The squadron began planning the move in 1996, by reviewing architectural drawings and hangar workspace modifications. The following year, the squadron began an in-depth look at how to make the actual move and formed a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) team. The squadron BRAC team, consisting of personnel from E6 - O4, designed the whole move plan.
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light Thirty-Seven (HSL 37) sent three detachments to sea in January 2000 -- one on long cruise and two on work-ups. Detachment One left Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay with the USS John C. Stennis Battle Group enroute to the Arabian Gulf in early January. The "Flying Circus", a two plane detachment, consists of six officers and sixteen maintainers. Detachments Three and Seven returned home at the end of February 2000 from their work-up periods on board USS Crommelin (FFG 37) and USS Flethcher (DD 992). The dets were supporting exercises with the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group (ALBG). The short cruise allowed the pilots and aircraft maintainers to hone their skills for the upcoming deployment in August. Det Three flew more than 170 hours during the deployment participating in a number of Under Sea Warfare (USW), Maritime Interdiction Operation (MIO) and Anti-Ship Surveillance and Targeting (ASST) exercise events. Det Three scored excellent on its only torpedo drop in addition to attaining several other simulated kills for its scorecard. The det was also called upon to perform several medical evacuations and logistics support missions for the battle group. By the end of the five weeks the Det was well trained and ready for anything. Det Seven, also in the ALBG, experienced an especially productive work-up period. Aircrew and maintainers alike either received their first taste of the ship or again made the adjustment to life at sea. All the while, training opportunities abounded.
In May 2000, HSL-37 Detachment Three [the "Jesters"] moved their two LAMPS (Light Airborne Multipurpose System) SH-60B Seahawk helicopters and 23 members to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) for operations during the multinational RIMPAC exercise. In September, the detachment once again moved to USS Abraham Lincoln to support the Western Pacific deployment. The "cross-deck" evolution greatly increased the battle group's capability by adding an invaluable asset to virtually any ship in the group. Det Three was called upon to provide radar coverage for the battle group during no-fly periods of the fixed wing aircraft attached to Lincoln. The det stood the mid-watch, allowing the carrier and its air wing, to prepare for the next day's events.
The Sailors of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 37 (HSL-37) Detachment One returned home to Marine Corps Base Hawaii in late June 2000 after a six month deployment to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. The "Flying Circus," comprised of six aviators, three enlisted aircrewmen, and 13 maintainers, was embarked on board USS Port Royal (CG 73), a Pearl Harbor-based guided missile cruiser. The detachment operated its two SH-60B Seahawk helicopters in two oceans and five seas providing LAMPS helicopter support for the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) carrier battle group. Det One flew over 177 tactical missions in the Arabian Gulf encompassing over 540 flight hours, 50 percent of which were flown at night. The detachment enjoyed a 97 percent sortie completion rate, the highest in the Stennis Battle Group
The "Easy Riders" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL 37) Det 4 led by Lt. Cmdr. Pete Turner returned from deployment in early October 2000. Assigned to USS Reuben James they participated in five bilateral exercises over the last five months in support of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2000. The Reuben James deployed to enhance mutual tactical training, build stronger military operations, and strengthen the bond between the navies of allied Southeast Asian nations. The air detachment conducted over 450 mishap free flight hours, 150 of which were at night. Their operations were not conducted without some obstacles. Some of the major challenges at sea were three engine changes, three phase maintenance evolutions, three high-speed shaft change outs and two windshield replacements.
The squadron's commitment to excellence is readily evident in its being awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation; four Battle Efficiency ("E") awards, most recently in 1995; two CNO Safety Awards; four Top Torpedo Awards; and six Arnold J. Isbell trophies for Anti-Submarine Warfare excellence.
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