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HSL-43 Det. 4 Completes Surge Deployment

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070421-09
Release Date: 4/21/2007 5:27:00 PM

From HSL-43 Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION NORTH ISLAND, Calif. (NNS) -- The “Rat Pak II” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43, Detachment 4, returned to San Diego on April 20 from a three-month deployment to the Western Pacific.

As part of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG), HSL-43 deployed aboard USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) under the Navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP). They operated in the Western Pacific supporting U.S. commitments in the region.

FRP provides the United States with the ability to respond to any global commitment with flexible and sustainable forces and the ability to rapidly respond to a range of situations on short notice.

The detachment set sail Jan. 27, less than six weeks after the completion of a six-month deployment to the Southern Pacific. The Rat Pak II prepared two SH-60B helicopters and 24 Sailors to support the Ronald Reagan CSG’s surge deployment.

“[Detachment 4 was] already accustomed to working together, possessed most of the requisite training, and required little guidance,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tracy Michaud, Det. 4 officer in charge. “They knew what needed completing prior to departure and did it. Our level of success throughout the deployment is a direct result of the effort they put forth getting ready to deploy.”

During the deployment, the crew prepared and maintained two aircraft, Battlecat 27 and 30, in support of an aggressive operational schedule. The maintenance effort included numerous special inspections as well as two in-depth phase inspections.

The Rat Pak II crew achieved significant accomplishments during the deployment, which included flying more than 300 mishap-free flight hours with a 95 percent maneuver completion rate. Detachment 4 also ensured strike group security by intercepting and identifying possible surface threats.

Other accomplishments include a successful anti-submarine warfare exercise off the coast of Guam, and Rat Pak II also conducted successful bilateral operations with the Japanese and South Korean navies.

The deployment was also marked by several personal milestones. Chief Aviation Technician (AW/SW) Jamie Castro was selected for the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program.

“When I found out that I had been selected for the LDO program, I couldn’t believe the awesome news,” said Castro. “I had mixed emotions, because I have a great deal of pride being an aviation maintenance chief and making a difference to my Sailors’ personal and professional development. I thought that by submitting an LDO package my career would drastically change -- I was wrong. I look forward to the new challenges, will strive to make a difference in the wardroom and continue supporting Sailors on the deckplates.”

Aviation Technician 3rd Class Blake Miller and Aviation Electronic Technician Airman Brandon Henry were both selected for Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, Land (BUD/S) training. Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Benjamin Kolb, Aviation Electronic Technician Airman Brandon Henry, Aviation Machinist's Mate Airman Mason Hargrove and Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Yuk Cheung qualified as enlisted aviation warfare specialists.

“I could not be more pleased with the resiliency they displayed preparing for a second deployment so soon or their resolve to do the job well,” said Michaud. “I have never worked in such a positive and constructive environment while deployed with a detachment. Working with them was a privilege.”

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