AT SEA – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron’s (HSC) 25 “Island Knights” embarked with the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) as part of its underway mission.
Even though this is not the Island Knights' first visit to Bonhomme Richard, their arrival is still significant. Not only are they supporting Bonhomme Richard’s operations, but they are also making history.
“The important part about this detachment is that we're the first three helicopter armed SAR detachment,” said HSC-25 Division Officer Lt. j.g. Mike Newell.
Bringing along an extra MH-60S helicopter, instead of just their usual two, might not seem like a major shift in the way HSC-25 does business, but this means an increase in the squadron’s capabilities for supporting Bonhomme Richard’s mission.
“This has come all the way up from big Navy saying our MH-60S helicopters are becoming more important for the defense of the amphibious ready group (ARG),” said Lt. Nick Avila, HSC-25’s training and search and rescue (SAR) officer. “Our helicopters now have the capability of protecting the ship on a better level than we used to. It's really important, in this cruise especially, that we actually demonstrate what we're capable of doing. Our mission here is essential to not only what the Marines are doing with their Air Combat Element (ACE), but to the ship's operations as well.“
Avila also said this could bring changes to the role of the helicopter squadron in future missions across the Navy.
“This is a proof of concept, in a way, because if we can show what we know we can do to the rest of the Navy,” said Avila, “that will increase the opportunities for our community, across the entire Navy as well, and show that the HSC community is a valuable part of expeditionary strike group to integrate us further into the operations of all these ships and specifically 7th fleet operations, where the pivot to the Pacific is really in full swing. Having more MH-60Ss on amphibious class ships can only make the mission stronger.”
Newell said his detachment was glad to be back onboard BHR.
“I've talked to just about every single sailor individually,” said Newell, “and one thing they all have in common is every single one of them are excited to be out here and absolutely loves the fact they're on detachment, on a ship.”
Bonhomme Richard is the lead ship in the Bonhomme Richard amphibious group and is currently underway conducting operations in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility.