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HSC-28 Sailors Keep Birds in the Air; Patients and Staff Moving

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070919-13
Release Date: 9/19/2007 6:23:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joan E. Kretschmer, USNS Comfort Public Affairs

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (NNS) -- Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Combat Squadron 28 members worked long hours in more than 100-degree temperatures aboard hospital ship USNS Comfort’s (T-AH 20) flight deck in Port-of-Spain, Sept. 18, to keep the humanitarian mission going strong.

HSC-28 performed B-phase maintenance on one of its two helicopters aboard Comfort.

B-phase maintenance is one of four phase maintenances performed on the MH-60S helicopters and is required every 175 hours that the helicopter flies. Maintenance crew members, known as maintainers, give themselves between four and five days to complete the maintenance.

Aviation Structural Mechanic 2nd Class Kolt McGuin has worked as an airframe mechanic for four and a half years.

“For me, Comfort’s mission has been a new type of mission for us. We usually perform search and rescue missions and vertical replenishments,” McGuin said. “This deployment has given me much joy in being able to see the help that has been given to the people of these countries that we go to.”

As an airframe mechanic, McGuin works on maintaining hydraulics, structural integrity and flight controls of the helicopter.

“My part in Comfort’s mission is to make sure these helicopters fly off the deck safely by trouble shooting and providing maintenance,” McGuin said.

A team of 24 maintainers work on Comfort’s two MH-60S helicopters. The maintainers are aviation structural mechanics who work on structural integrity and hydraulics; aviation electricians and aviation electronic technicians who work on the navigation, communication and electronic systems; aviation machinists who work on the engines and transmissions; an aviation maintenance administrationman who works on keeping track of flight hours and maintenance log books; and a storekeeper who orders helicopter parts.

Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class Carlos Hernandez, the detachment’s air crew leading petty officer, has been with HSC-28 for three and a half years. He assists junior Sailors with the different mission aspects of their jobs.

“I enjoy what I do,” Hernandez said. “I have been doing it for 19 years and I have gotten to teach a lot of the younger guys their job, whether it is air crew or search and rescue.”

Keeping both helicopters mission capable is critical to Comfort’s mission. Both helicopters have transported approximately 400,000 pounds of cargo, transported more than 5,500 passengers to and from the ship for care and flown more than 319 hours since beginning the deployment.

Comfort is on a four-month humanitarian deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean providing medical care to patients in a dozen countries.

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