HS-8 Completes Deployment, Returns to San Diego
Story Number: NNS070828-04
Release Date: 8/28/2007 8:25:00 AM
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Matthew A. Hepburn, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs
USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The “Eightballers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 8 successfully completed a seven-month deployment aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and returned to their homeport of San Diego Aug. 27.
HS-8, embarked aboard Stennis as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, departed San Diego Jan. 20 for a regularly scheduled deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
While deployed, HS-8 primarily flew combat search and rescue, anti-submarine warfare, logistics support and maritime operations missions.
“Throughout deployment, we had all our aircraft fully flight-ready, so there were no problems supporting Combined Task Force (CTF) 158, who protects oil platforms that generate up to 90 percent of the revenue in the 5th Fleet area of operations (AOO),” said HS-8’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Lawrence Vincent.
Maritime security operations (MSO) set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attacking or transporting personnel, weapons and other material.
While operating in the 5th Fleet AOO, the "Eightballers" flew 758 sorties coinciding with 1,890 flight hours. Vincent attributed much of this success to HS-8’s maintenance team.
“We have an excellent maintenance crew,” said Vincent. “I was really impressed with their hard work and skill. These Sailors kept us fully operational during this deployment.”
In addition to important operational work completed by pilots, Sailors accomplished personal and professional goals. Sixty-one HS-8 Sailors earned their enlisted aviation warfare specialist (EAWS) pin while on deployment, allowing the squadron the right to fly the EAWS pennant.
“It’s an achievement for the squadron,” said Command Master Chief Eduardo Castro. “It also shows that our personnel were up to the challenge of getting the EAWS pennant.”
Twenty-one Sailors also earned their enlisted surface warfare specialist pin and 41 participated in college courses.
“Getting my pins was definitely difficult. It took a lot of focus, persistence and dedication, but it was very rewarding to do,” said Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class (AW/SW) Erik Jensen.
Jensen, a San Diego native, added with the Navy's help, he has come a long way in the pursuit of his goals.
“I joined to help straighten out my life, and the Navy has definitely helped me do that,” said Jensen. “I feel good about where I am in life right now.”
Jensen also completed his bachelor’s degree while underway and will be applying for officer candidate school later this year.
Sailors also volunteered to help local communities by participating in more than 20 community relations projects during port visits to Singapore and Hong Kong.
“It was a great experience to spend time with the children in Singapore,” said Jensen. “Community relations projects like this help us show the world that the Navy is also about helping local communities both at home and underway.”
Additionally, HS-8 won the Capt. Arnold J. Isbell award for Pacific Fleet squadrons and was selected as a nominee for the 2006 Adm. Jimmy Thach award for best carrier-based Antisubmarine Warfare squadron.
The Adm. Thach award is given annually to helicopter squadrons for outstanding achievement and contributions to naval aviation; the Capt. Isbell award is given to superior anti-surface and anti-submarine squadrons.
“This award was not only a testament to our pilots and air crew but also to our maintenance, admin and safety departments,” said Lt. Nick Sylvester, an HS-8 pilot. “Our maintainers gave us great aircraft to fly, our admin folks facilitated travel and logistics enabling us to go to schools and forward operating bases without a hitch, and our pilots and air crew worked very hard to hone their skills in preparation for cruise.”
HS-8 currently flies the SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawk helicopters, but beginning later this year, the squadron will transition to using the MH-60S, an aircraft designed to better support fleet operations.
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