HSL-48 was established 7 September 1989. Beginning with 147 plank-owners and three aircraft, the VIPERS have grown to a complement of 50 officers, 229 enlisted personnel, and 14 aircraft. Squadron aircraft meet fleet operational requirements in the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Caribbean, and Middle East regions of the world.
7 Sep 1989 – 31 Nov 1990
The first Commanding Officer of HSL-48 was CDR Stephen Beal. Under his leadership many firsts occurred in Viper history. On 15 November 1989, the VIPERS' first detachment formed as a one aircraft detachment aboard USS SPRUANCE (DDG-963). On 7 August 1990, Detachment ONE embarked on the squadron's first long cruise aboard USS SPRUANCE. Detachments TWO and THREE deployed ahead of schedule on their maiden long cruises to the Eastern Mediterranean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation DESERT SHIELD.
1 Dec 1990 – 24 Jan 1992
In November 1990, CDR "Rusty" Kollmorgen relieved CDR Beal during the VIPERS' first change of command. Over 330 underway days and 3,500 flight hours were logged in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM in 1991. During this time, Detachment THREE performed the squadron's first combat SAR mission in the North Arabian Gulf. 25 Jan 1992 – 25 Mar 1993 On 24 January 1992, CDR Ron Nasman relieved CDR Kollmorgen as the VIPERS' Commanding Officer. By the end of 1992, the VIPERS had logged over 33,700 mishap-free flight hours. In 1992, HSL-48 won the Naval Station Mayport Captain's Cup and the Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award for USW excellence.
26 Mar 1993 – 25 Jul 1994
CDR Keith Laser, the VIPERS' fourth Commanding Officer, took over on 26 March 1993. In 1993, the VIPERS' Adopt-a-School program earned the Beacon Eddy Award and the Maintenance Department was awarded the COMHSLWINGLANT Maintenance Excellence Award. In September, the VIPERS were awarded their second Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award for USW excellence. The squadron also earned the COMHSLWINGLANT USW Weapons Proficiency Award. In June 1994, HSL-48 was presented the Admiral Arleigh Burke Trophy as the most improved combat unit in the entire U.S. Atlantic Fleet, a first for a helicopter squadron since the award’s inception in 1962.
26 Jul 1994 – 5 Sep 1995
On 25 July 1994, CDR Russ MacConnell relieved CDR Laser. During the next 12 months, the squadron earned the COMNAVBASE Jacksonville Silver Anchor Award (a first for LAMPS MKIII squadrons), a third consecutive Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award, and a second consecutive COMHSLWINGLANT Maintenance Excellence Award.
6 Sep 1995 – 12 Dec 1996
CDR Craig K. Austad relieved CDR MacConnell on 5 September 1995 as the VIPERS' sixth Commanding Officer. HSL-48 marked 1995 and 1996 by winning its fourth consecutive Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award for USW excellence, two USW Proficiency Awards, and the Pathfinder Eddy Award for outstanding community service through the HSL-48 Adopt-a-School program. In addition, the VIPERS achieved a significant aviation safety milestone by reaching 50,000 mishap free flight hours on 13 May 1996.
13 Dec 1996 – 2 Apr 1998
CDR Brent H. Barrow took command of HSL-48 on 12 December 1996. The seventh VIPER CO, he took the squadron to new heights in 1997 and 1998. Squadron achievements included the fourth consecutive COMHSLWINGLANT USW Proficiency Award, a third Pathfinder Eddy Award for unparalleled excellence in community involvement, and the 1997 Battle "E" Award. The VIPERS continued to emphasize safety as a primary focus, attaining 60,000 Class "A" and "B" mishap-free hours. HSL-48 broke new ground as the first COMHSLWINGLANT squadron to deploy a detachment with the Hellfire, GAU-16 .50 caliber machine gun and Forward Looking Infrared Radar Laser Designating Unit. The Vipers also sent the first ever LAMPS Mk III detachment to sea with an auxiliary fuel tank.
3 Apr 1998 – 2 Jul 1999
On 2 April 1998, CDR William K. Lescher became HSL-48's eighth Commanding Officer. He led the squadron during a period of combat operations in support of OPERATIONS DESERT FOX (Iraq) and ALLIED FORCE (Serbia). During this time, the Vipers also executed the first LAMPS night firing of a Hellfire missile. The squadron also earned the CNO Ship-Helicopter Safety Award and the 2nd Beacon Eddy Award.
3 Jul 1999 – 12 Jul 2000
CDR Stephen M. Senteio relieved Commander William K. Lescher on 2 July 1999. They received the Florida Business Partner’s Award for their ten-year relationship with Alimacani Elementary School, a first for any military unit. The Vipers were the first east coast squadron to deploy with the CORE B armed helicopter weapons system and deployed its first ever Night Vision Goggle detachment. The Detachment 9 "Warriors of Oz" deployed for a four and one half month Counter Drug Operations Cruise throughout the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean. Their efforts resulted in over 15 boardings, one of which led to the discovery and seizure of an undisclosed amount of illegal drugs by the embarked U. S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment.
13 July 2000 - 18 January 2002
CDR Patrick K. Crotzer relieved CDR Senteio on 13 July 2000 as the tenth VIPER Commanding Officer. The squadron achieved three years of mishap-free flight and won the coveted Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award for 2000. Away from the flight line, the squadron won the CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award for an exemplary record of enlisted retention. Additionally, HSL-48 was the runner up for Commander, Navy Region Southeast's Community Service Award, which recognized hundreds of volunteer hours served in the community.
19 January 2002 – 17 April 2003
On 19 January 2002, CDR Crotzer was relieved by CDR James F. Hunter. Detachment One, embarked on the USS Samuel B. Roberts, participated in NATO exercise Strong Resolve in which militaries from nine different nations gathered in Norway for one of the largest military exercises ever conducted in the region; the exercise allowed the navies to work on issues of interoperability and learn each other’s respective strengths. From March 25 to April 3, 2002, HSL-48 hosted the British Navy 31-man Merlin helicopter team. Detachment Seven deployed in July onboard USS Kauffman for a Mediterranean deployment escorting cargo ships and maintaining open shipping lanes, before proceeding to the Gulf to support the War on Terrorism. On the return trip the USS Kauffman was the first US ship to sail into Haifa, Israel since Sept. 11, 2001. They also took part in a three-nation search and rescue exercise off the coast of Israel. One of the oldest SH60B's in the fleet, Venom 512 reaches 10,000 hours on January 13, 2003. Detachment Two “Ringmasters” returned on St. Patrick’s Day 2003 from a five month deployment in the Eastern Pacific Ocean onboard USS John L. Hall where they interdicted five drug boats and arrested suspect smugglers. Detachment Six was embarked on USS San Jacinto during the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
18 April 2003 – 3 June 2004
CDR Hunter was relieved by CDR Stephen H. Blaisdell on 18 April 2003. Detachment Four, embarked on the USS McInerney, assisted in the seizure of more than ten tons of cocaine in international waters west of the Panamanian and Colombian border. Venom 506 flew more than 175 hours in two weeks in search of critical contacts to support the multinational task force. Detachment Eight “Replacement Killers” deployed directly for long cruise after finishing COMTUEX in support of the Global War on Terrorism and the impending conflict with Iraq. After successful completion of COMPTUEX onboard USS Anzio (CG 68), the shotgun cruiser for the Theodore Roosevelt Strike Group proceeded to the Eastern Mediterranean. Replacement Killers flew nineteen combat missions in support of coalition ground and naval units helping to secure the waterways port of Umm Qasr. Upon completing operations in the Arabian Gulf, Anzio and Detachment Eight were tasked with providing reconnaissance of a Russian Surface Action Group conducting a missile firing exercise in the Northern Arabian Sea. Detachment 10 ''Chickens'' deployed in November 2003 aboard USS Thorn (DD-988) for a six-month deployment to perform missions in the Mediterranean and Horn of Africa. They escorted American merchant ships through the Straits of Gibraltar and participated in a multi-national exercise with Israel and United States that is the largest annual exercise for Israel. The squadron was awarded the 2003 Captain Arnold J. Isbell trophy for outstanding performance in USW/SUW; the COMHSLWINGLANT Sea Combat Competition and Deployed Acoustic Readiness Training (DARTS) competition for 2003; the 2003 Retention Excellence Award, and won first place in the sea command Commander Navy Region Southeast Community Service Personnel Partnership Award.
4 June 2004 – 14 September 2005
CDR Donald R. Cuddington became the VIPERS’ thirteenth skipper on 4 June 2004. Detachment Five ''Misfits'' deployed to Whitehaven, England, aboard USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55) for a 10-day exercise hosted by the Royal Navy in the waters off Scotland. Detachment One, ''SNFL Tap,'' deployed aboard USS Doyle (FFG 39) as the only American vessel part of the Standing NATO Forces Atlantic (SNFL) Battle Group. The “Hooligans” of Detachment Six deployed in January 2005 on USS O'Bannon (DD-987) and participated in Operation Reliant Mermaid VII, a multinational Search and Rescue (SAR) and Damage Control (DC) exercise featuring naval assets from Turkey, Israel, and the United States. HSL-48 received the 2004 COMNAVAIRLANT Battle ''E'' award, the 2004 Golden Wrench award for maintenance excellence and the 2004 Capt. Arnold Jay Isbell award for tactical excellence in Undersea and Surface Warfare. The Vipers were also named to the FY04 4th Quarter and FY05 1st and 2nd Quarter COMFLTFORCOM Retention Honor Rolls. The Vipers, in conjunction with all CHSMWL squadrons, were among the first military helicopters to respond to the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief effort. The Vipers flew more than 178 hours, rescued 126 people, conducted 37 MEDEVACs and delivered thousands of pounds of food and water for victims of Hurricane Katrina.
15 September 2005 - 15 December 2006
CDR Jeffrey W. Hughes relieved CDR Cuddington on 14 September 2005. HSL-48's Rita Detachment became a part of Joint Task Force RITA, which included crews and aircraft from all Mayport based HSL squadrons in anticipation of the hurricane making landfall. On September 24, two crews, one from HSL-48 and another from HSL-46, rescued 12 FEMA members and two search dogs that had become stranded by executing an extremely difficult Confined Area Landing in a parking lot. On December 13, 2005, Venom 505 was lost at sea while conducting counter-narco terrorism operations in international waters west of Columbia. The lost Vipers were: Lt. Christopher H. Snyder, 28, pilot, of Plainsboro, New Jersey; Lt.j.g. Nicolas J. Juron, 25, pilot, of Lexington Park, Maryland; and Aviation Warfare Systems Operator Second Class John N. Kaye III, 22, of Traer, Iowa. ''The Gangstas'' of Detachment Two deployed aboard USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) as part of the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) CSG in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The ''Lucky Eights'' of Detachment Eight were deployed aboard USS Nicholas (FFG 47) and took part in critical Iraqi oil infrastructure security operations in the Northern Arabian Gulf, maritime security operations in the Central Arabian Gulf, the Northern Arabian Sea and Horn of Africa. During workups, Detachment Eight participated in the rescue of the injured crew of the sailing vessel ''Wind Daze'' that was foundering in extreme seas. The ''Vandalizers'' of Detachment 10 deployed aboard USS Elrod (FFG 55) for Operation Active Endeavor in the Eastern Mediterranean in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Their cruise included operations in the Eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean and Black Seas. They served as a security escort while transiting the Straits of Gibraltar a total of six times in support of numerous exercises with Standing NATO Maritime Group One and took part in WWII commemorations in France and Russia. In 2005-2006, the Vipers received the CNO Aviation Safety Award, the CNO Ship-Helicopter Safety Award, the Golden Wrench Award, the Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award for tactical excellence, two Fleet Forces Command Retention Awards and was the Wing's Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy Nominee.
16 December 2006 - 20 March 2008
HSL-48 Detachment Seven deployed onboard USS Samuel B. Roberts as part of The Partnership of the Americas, to test and strengthen the coordination between U.S. Naval forces and those of the Central and South American navies. Detachment Seven also participated in the Atlantic phase of multi-national exercises UNITAS and PANAMAX, with the goal of strengthening ties between the U.S. and Latin and South America. HSL-48 Detachment Two, embarked on USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), was part of the winning duo for the 2006 Ship-Helicopter Safety Awards. They maintained a perfect aviation safety record during 208 days of operations and completed 978 flight hours, of which 39 percent were at night.
21 March 2008 – 11 June 2009
HSL-48's Detachments One, Four, and Six deployed for more than seven months to the 5th and 6th Fleet AORs. The detachments, or the 146th Rotary Strike Group as they were known collectively, flew 2,675 flight hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and promoting coalition partnerships while deployed with Carrier Strike Group 10 (CSG-10) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). The Vipers hosted a tour for 10 Pakistani Naval Officers on February 11, 2009, including Rear Adm. Tanveer Faiz, the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations) for Pakistan. Detachment Two “Rock Hard Roosters” deployed onboard USS Underwood (FFG 36) for a six-month counter narco-terrorism (CNT) / airborne use of force (AUF) deployment to the Eastern Pacific. They seized and disrupted more than 53,000 pounds of contraband worth an estimated street value of more than $1.6 billion. On Dec. 30, 2008, a potential drug interdiction turned into a rescue at sea when they recovered 43 SOLAS (Survival of Life at Sea) survivors whose nationalities included Ecuadorian, Columbian and Chinese (PRC). USS Underwood embarked all 43 survivors including 14 females, 28 males, and a 3 year old girl who were medically screened before being transferred to the USNS Saturn the following morning through a combination of helicopter operations and small boat transfers. Detachment Five “BOHICA Air” deployed to the newly formed AFRICOM for seven months onboard USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55). They operated on the East and West coasts of Africa and the Mediterranean, working to build relationships with numerous countries and train personnel in U. S. Naval capabilities. They also took part in the multi-national counter-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa.
11 June 2009 - 29 June 2010
During this time, CDR Stephen E. Banta served as the Commanding Officer. The squadron deployed six combat-ready detachments and safely executed over 5,700 flight hours in support of Operations IRAQI and ENDRURING FREEDOM, Anti-Piracy, Counter Narco-Terrorism Operations, as well as numerous fleet exercises. The Vipers led HSMWINGLANT in tactical proficiency, winning the Commander, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Atlantic Fleet 2009 Captain Arnold J. Isbell Award, and the 2010 COMHSMWINGLANT Diversified Acoustic Aircrew Readiness Training Support (DARTS) Award. Additionally, the squadron received the 2008 CNO Aviation Safety Award, the 2008 and 2009 Blue "M" for Medical Readiness, the COMSHMWINGLANT 2008 nominee for the prestigious Arleigh Burke Award, and the 2008 and 2009 Retention Excellence Awards, exceeding overall Navy retention averages by 25% and an attrition rate 50% below fleet average.
29 June 2010 - 30 Nov 2011
During CDR Kennedy's command tour, he deployed seven fully combat-ready detachments supporting operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, Anti-Piracy, and Counter Narco-Terrorism (CNT) operations. His aggressive pursuit of operational excellence with an unwavering commitment to safety resulted in over 8,500 total mishap-free flight hours and 11,500 shipboard landings. The Vipers led HSMWINGLANT in tactical proficiency, 13 antipiracy engagements resulted in 4 pirates terminated and 38 captured suspected pirates, as well as over 120 civilian mariners rescued. Additionally, HSL-48 scored above "fleet average" during the 2011 Commander Naval Air Forces aviation maintenance inspection, with 19 programs receiving zero discrepancies. Under his leadership, HSL-48 exceeded overall Navy retention averages by more than 25% and promoted 7 sailors to Chief Petty Officer, 7 to Senior Chief Petty Officer and 91 sailors to Petty Officer, meeting or exceeding the fleet advancement rates in every category.
30 Nov 2011 - 21 Feb 2013
On November 30, 2011, CDR Tyrel T. Simpson took the torch from CDR Kennedy as the VIPER's 19th Commanding Officer. During CDR Simpson’s tour, he deployed eight combat-ready detachments supporting operations on forward deployed ships to the 4th, 5th, and 6th Fleet Op Areas supporting operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, Anti-Piracy, Ballistic Missile Defense, and Counter Narco-Terrorism (CNT) operations. 2012 was a banner year for the Vipers which translated to a staggering amount of operational numbers. The squadron flew over 5,500 flight hours with over 65% being flown by the deployed detachments during their combined 1,284 days underway. During calendar year 2012 HSL-48 advanced 4 sailors to the rank of Chief Petty Officer; 17 to E-6; 52 to E-5; and 36 to the rank of E-4.
22 Feb 2013 - Present
On 22 February, 2013, CDR Eric J. Bower became HSL 48’s 20th Commanding Officer. HSL 48 “Vipers” provided an overwhelming fleet presence by deploying seven fully mission capable LAMPS helicopter detachments in 2013 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism, as well as a myriad of contributions to allied and coalition forces. HSL-48’s incomparable efforts were recognized as COMHSMWL’s 2013 Battle “E” and Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy awardee. The Vipers achieved this enviable increase in operational success through an uncommon devotion to training and readiness, setting a high standard that will have a lasting positive effect throughout the HSL/HSM community. In all, the squadron flew over 5,300 flight hours with over 63% being flown by the deployed detachments during their combined 1,101 days underway. The commitment of the flight crews and maintenance personnel allowed for 2,623 ASU hours, 301 ASW hours, and 9 AGM-114 Hellfire and 5 MK-46 Torpedoes launched for training. During calendar year 2013 HSL-48 advanced 7 Sailors to the rank of Chief Petty Officer; 6 to E-6; 25 to E-5; and 19 to the rank of E-4.