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Helicopter Detachment Setting Standard for Operations in Central Command AOR

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS110313-02

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tracey L. Whitley, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, spent the afternoon visiting Sailors assigned to Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 Det. 2, at Naval Support Activity Bahrain's Aviation Unit, March 8.

The squadron set up a simulated mine countermeasure exercise to provide Vice Adm. Mark Fox an opportunity to experience firsthand, the capabilities of the MH-53E Sea Dragon.

"Our primary mission, day in and day out, is to conduct airborne mine countermeasure missions and map out secure sea lanes so that our surface assets can do their job safely," said Lt. Cmdr. Don McNeil, Det. 2 assistant officer-in-charge.

When conducting mine countermeasures operations, the squadron also assists with logistics by transporting cargo and mail within the region.

"One of the most enjoyable aspects of my job is the variety of missions that the [MH-53E] Sea Dragon can accomplish," said Naval Aircrewman 1st Class Mike Dicks. "We could be doing a mine countermeasure mission and then turn right around a few hours later, and go help with a humanitarian relief project."

During his visit, Fox toured the unit and met with some of the Sailors who keep the squadron mission-ready. He presented six of the crewmembers with a command coin and spoke with each of them.

"The Sailors here brave incredible difficulties and work around the clock to keep the helo running," said McNeil. "They face blazing temperatures and about 60 hours of maintenance per hour of flight to get the job done. I think we all feel a sense of accomplishment by being here, and even though personnel rotate out every six months, we strive to do our best work in the time we do spend here."

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