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HH-46A Sea Knight Sea Knight

Also known to the Marines as the Frog, the H-46 is also flown by Canada (where it is known as the CH-113), Japan (where it is known as the KV-107), and Sweden (where it is known as the HKP-4). It is often mistaken for the Chinook, but the CH-46 has three wheels instead of the four the Chinook usually has and the Chinook is larger. The original model is the CH-46A.

The SAR version of this helicopter is the HH-46A; it has Doppler search radar and a radio beacon finder, as well as a hoist with a capacity of 300 kg. For over water SAR, the HH-46A should be equipped with an operable doppler with hover coupler and, if installed, an operable Loran C Navigation Receiver. Utilization of the HH-46 hover coupler shall be at the discretion of the SAR HAC. Day/night hover operations are prohibited in all situations where the pilot has insufficient visual cues, either natural or artificial, to maintain a stabilized hover, unless the appropriate hover equipment is utilized.

With its wide range of missions, the H-2 Seasprite was eventually used in the training commands primarily as a SAR aircraft but for a brief period, November 1974 to March 1975, by Helicopter Combat Support Training Squadron (HCT) 16. The squadron's mission was SAR support for the training carrier Lexington and training pilots for the transition to the HH-46A rescue helicopter.

The H-46 Sea Knight was also used briefly in the training command. It was originally procured by the Marine Corps as a troop assault and equipment transport helicopter. Accepted in May 1962, it was initially designated HRB-1 and then changed to the H-46 series. The first Sea Knight was delivered to Medium Helicopter Squadron 265 in June 1964. The Navy later procured the Sea Knight for a vertical replenishment role in the fleet. It served briefly in the training command. HCT-16 used the Sea Knight from November 1974 to May 1977. This squadron was redesignated HC-16 and was removed from the operational and administrative control of the training command. The squadron continued to act as a search and rescue squadron at Pensacola and is also a fleet replacement training unit for the H-46 Sea Knight.

The origins of search and rescue at Pensacola can be found in the early history of the training complex. The first unit was formed at NAS Pensacola to ensure the safety of pilots over both land and water in the local area. This was the beginning of what would come to be known as the LAND HSU unit. LAND HSU was responsible for coverage of the 20 or so landing fields in the area, be they Naval Air Stations or out-lying landing sites. This unit flew the H-25 (HUP), H-19, (HRS) and H-34 (HSS1).

The merger of the LAND HSU and CVT HSU units occurred on l April 1972 with NAS departmental status achieved on 8 June 1973. A new breed of search and rescue helicopter, the HH-46A "SEA KNIGHT" arrived at Sherman Field on 18 September 1973 marking the inception of an all-weather HSU capability and commencement of a Search and Rescue Training Squadron. In 1985, the squadron's four remaining HH-46's were replaced with five SH-3's.

Although elements of CVW-7 had operated from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) previously, the Navy did not assign the wing per se to Dwight D. Eisenhower until 01 March 1978. During the first dog watch a Boeing HH-46A from HC-16 (BuNo 150950) encountered mechanical difficulties while in the plane guard position about 100 yards off Dwight D. Eisenhower's starboard quarter, about 60 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Fla., at 29r54'N, 80r16'4"W. The weather was calm with clear visibility, as the Sea Knight suddenly rolled rapidly to the right, crashed into the water tail first and sank, inverted, disappearing from view in barely 30 seconds. "Helo in the water" announced the ship's 1-MC speaker at 1652 as the ship lowered a motor whaleboat, whose crew recovered LT(JG) Howard M. Tillison and AD2 Richard L. Dolick. LT(JG) Frederic L. Bell and ADC John R. Bazan, however, the other two crewmen, died in the mishap. Helo Nos 404 and 411 from HC-16 participated in the rescue. An investigation determined that the most probable cause of the accident was a "catastrophic failure" of an upper aft flight control assembly on the Sea Knight, resulting in severe movements of the aft rotor head, including a reduction in blade pitch and loss of lift.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 02:32:58 ZULU