CORAL SEA -- The forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) and its embarked helicopter detachment from the ‘Warlords’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM ) 51, were selected for the annual Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Ship-Helicopter Safety Award in May.
This unique award honors the cruiser or destroyer and embarked detachment with the most outstanding aviation safety record for 2014.
Throughout the year, Mustin and its two embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopters conducted 685 mishap-free flight hours, 266 day landings, and 456 night landings. The ship also transferred 44 passengers and 21 tons of cargo, and provided air support for several major joint and bilateral exercises, including Multi-Sail, Valiant Shield, and Keen Sword.
“Mustin is proud to have been named by the CNO as the Navy's 2014 Ship-Helicopter Safety Award winner,” said Cmdr. Joseph A. Torres, Jr., Mustin’s commanding officer. “More than anything, this prestigious award recognizes our deck-plate Sailors, whose tireless efforts and total commitment to aviation excellence embody the spirit of this important safety award.”
The annual fleet wide award recognizes sustained superior flight operations at sea with a commitment to aviation safety on flight deck and in the air.
"Helicopter operations have inherent risk, but when the ship incorporates safety practices that go above and beyond the requirements it allows the aircrew to give greater focus on the mission,” said Lt. Blake Smith, a pilot with HSM-51. “This award is an honor to our ship-air team, recognizing that we are conducting ourselves in the safest regard in the high operational tempo of forward deployed naval forces."
Safety is not only important in the air, it’s also important on Mustin’s flight deck.
“It’s a team effort, and everybody on the flight deck has to work together as a solid unit,” said Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Michael Passmore, one of Mustin’s landing signalman, enlisted. “When I’m out on deck and guiding the helicopter in for a landing, I keep reminding myself that the crew is counting on me to bring them home.”
Mustin is currently on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific Region.