Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light [HSL-48]
HSL-48 was established 7 September 1989. Beginning with 147 plankowners and three aircraft, the VIPERS have grown to a complement of 59 officers, 235 enlisted personnel, and 14 aircraft. Squadron aircraft meet fleet operational requirements in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Middle East regions of the world.
On 15 November 1989, the VIPERS' first detachment formed as a one aircraft detachment aboard USS SPRUANCE (DDG 963). By year's end, the fledgling squadron, under the VIPERS' first Commanding Officer, CDR Stephen Beal, had flown nearly 1,000 hours.
The next year saw HSL-48 detachments taking part in joint NATO exercises and operating n the Eastern Mediterranean in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD. The squadron received six more aircraft by the close of 1990 as well as four new detachments. On 7 August 1990, Detachment ONE embarked on the squadron's first long cruise aboard USS SPRUANCE. Detachments TWO and THREE deployed ahead of schedule on their maiden long cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD.
In November 1990, CDR "Rusty" Kollmorgen relieved CDR Beal during the VIPERS' first change of command. Over 330 underway days and 3,500 flight hours were logged in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM during this second year. During this time, Detachment THREE performed the squadron's first combat SAR mission in the North Arabian Gulf.
On 24 January 1992, CDR Ron Nasman relieved CDR Kollmorgen as the VIPERS' Commanding Officer. By the end of 1992, the VIPERS had logged over 33,700 mishap-free flight hours. In 1992, HSL-48 won the Naval Stations Mayport Captain's Cup and the Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award for USW excellence.
CDR Keith Laser, the VIPERS' fourth Commanding Officer, took over on 26 March 1993. In 1993, the VIPERS' Adopt-a-School program earned the Beacon Eddy Award and the Maintenance Department was awarded the Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light Wing U.S. Atlantic Fleet Maintenance Excellence Award. HSL-48 was also COMHSLWINGLANT'S nominee for the 1993 Golden Anchor Award. In September, the VIPERS were awarded their second Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award for USW excellence. The squadron also earned the COMHSLWINGLANT USW Weapons Proficiency Award. In June 1994, HSL-48 was presented the Admiral Arleigh Burke Trophy as the most improved combat unit in the entire U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
On 25 July 1994, CDR Russ MacConnell relieved CDR Laser. During the next 12 months, the squadron earned the COMNAVBASE Jacksonville Silver Anchor Award (a first for LAMPS MKIII squadrons), a third consecutive Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award, and a second consecutive COMHSLWINGLANT Maintenance Excellence Award.
CDR Craig K. Austad relieved CDR MacConnell on 5 September 1995 as the VIPERS' sixth Commanding Officer. HSL-48 marked 1995 and 1996 by winning its fourth consecutive Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award for USW excellence, two USW Proficiency Awards, and the Pathfinder Eddy Award for outstanding community service through the HSL-48 Adopt-a-School program. In addition, the VIPERS achieved a significant aviation safety milestone by going over 50,000 mishap free flight hours on 13 May 1996.
CDR Brent H. Barrow took command of HSL-48 on 12 December 1996. The seventh VIPER CO, he took the squadron to new heights in 1997 and 1998. Squadron achievements included the fourth consecutive COMHSLWINGLANT USW Proficiency Award, a third Pathfinder Eddy Award for unparalleled excellence in community involvement, and the 1997 Battle "E" Award. Continuing to emphasize safety as a primary focus, the VIPERS surpassed 60,000 Class "A" and "B" mishap-free hours.
On 2 April 1998, Commander William K. Lescher became HSL-48's eighth commanding officer. He led the squadron during a period of combat operations in support of OPERATIONS DESERT FOX(Iraq) and ALLIED FORCE (Serbia). During this time, the Vipers also executed the first LAMPS night firing of a Hellfire missile. The squadron also earned the CNO Ship-Helicopter Safety Award and the 2nd Beacon Eddy Award. CDR Stephen M. Senteio relieved Commander William K. Lescher on 02 July 1999.
In 1999 HSL-48 Detachment 9 "Warriors of Oz" deployed from Mayport for a four and one half month Counter Drug Operations Cruise. The Detachment served on board USS BOONE (FFG-28) and operated throughout the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean. During the deployment the "Warriors" flew over 430 hours and identified over 500 surface vessels in support of Index 99-1, Counter-Drug Operations, and Operation Conjuntos. Their efforts resulted in over 15 boardings, one of which led to the discovery and seizure of an undisclosed amount of illegal drugs by the embarked U. S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment. Det 9 began their deployment April 24 with Index 99-1, a 2 week multi-unit exercise which included anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine operations conducted off the coast of Puerto Rico. Following Index, the "Warriors" commenced CD-operations off the coast of South America before transiting the Panama Canal on May 27. While in the Eastern Pacific, Det 9 celebrated the time honored "Shellback Initiation," and participated in Operation Conjuntos, a counter-drug operation with the Panamanian Navy. After 2 months in the Pacific, they returned to the Caribbean on July 30th and resumed CD-operations until arriving in Mayport September 1st. During the deployment, HSL-48 Det 9 enjoyed port visits in Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; Fredriksted, St. Croix; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Rodman, Panama; Curacao and Aruba, N.A.; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and Port Everglades, FL.
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