Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Nine History
HSC-9 traces its history back to Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron THREE which was established 18 June 1952, at the Naval Air Facility, Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The TRIDENTS commenced operations flying the Piaseki UH-25B helicopter, and later transitioned to the Sikorsky H-19 and SH-34 Helicopters. HS-3 was the first Atlantic Fleet operational squadron to operate with the gas turbine powered SH-A SEA KING, followed later by the SH-3D, and finally the SH-3H TACNAV equipped helicopter. Additionally in 1982, HS-3 became the first squadron to deploy with the AQS-13E Sonar Data Computer.
During the early 1960's, HS-3 was deployed aboard the USS VALLEY FORGE (CVS 45) and the USS INTREPID (CVS 11). In 1962 onboard the USS WASP (CVS 18), HS-3 participated in the naval blockade of Cuba. The TRIDENTS began an active role in the space program on 24 May 1962 when then Skipper CDR J. M. Wondergem picked up LCDR M. S. Carpenter from his Aurora 7 spacecraft and delivered him to the USS INTREPID. Astronauts Carpenter, Grissom, Young, Collins, Gordon, Conrad, Mcdevitt, Scott, and Schweiktart all ended their space journeys with rides aboard TRIDENT helicopters.
In 1967 HS-3 deployed aboard the USS RANDOLF (CVS 15), and in 1970 the TRIDENTS conducted their first operations aboard the USS FORRESTAL (CVA 59). In the early 1970's, the squadron participated in the relief of Tunisian flood victims, rescuing or relocating 630 people while transporting over 43,000 pounds of food and medical supplies. In recognition of this humanitarian support, the squadron was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. HS-3 won the Battle "E" in 1973 and 1978, as well as the Isbell Trophy in 1974 and 1978.
HS-3 was awarded two Navy Unit Commendations for operational accomplishments and outstanding maintenance efforts during the 1985-86 Mediterranean and Indian Ocean deployment onboard the USS SARATOGA (CV 60). The TRIDENTS won three consecutive BATTLE "E" awards for 1985, '86, and '87. They also won back-to-back Isbell Trophies in 1986 and '87.
In 1990 the TRIDENTS enforced United Nations sanctions against Iraqi trade while deployed onboard the USS SARATOGA in the Red Sea. HS-3 conducted an actual Helicopter Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (HVBSS) with a special forces boarding team to "take down" a hostile merchant ship during Operation DESERT SHIELD/STORM. HS-3 provided superb combat support in this campaign and was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation for those efforts. The squadron returned home in the spring of 1991 and was the first Atlantic squadron to transition to the SH-60F Seahawk.
Preparations for the squadron's 1995 Mediterranean deployment were interrupted when the TRIDENTS were called upon to support Operation UPHOLD DEMOCRACY during the U.S. military intervention in Haiti. HS-3 provided the sole Navy Maritime SAR, CSAR and special operations support. The TRIDENTS deployed one week after the completion of UPHOLD DEMOCRACY and flew in support of Operation DENY FLIGHT over Bosnia-Herzegovina. During this deployment, HS-3 also flew the first actual CSAR mission by an HS squadron since the Vietnam Era to search for the crew of a downed French Mirage fighter.
The TRIDENTS deployed aboard the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) in March 1999 and headed straight into the first of two conflicts. During Operation NOBLE ANVIL, HS-3 supported combat operations against Serbia in Kosovo. Once a cease-fire was agreed upon, the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT transited the Arabian Gulf to support Maritime Interdiction Operations and enforce no-fly zones over southern Iraq. In August 1999, HS-3 conducted a successful HVBSS to a freighter violating UN sanctions. The operation seized $3.5 million in Iraqi contraband. During this demanding deployment, HS-3 lifted over 1.8 million pounds of cargo and completed over 2,000 small deck landings. HS-3 was awarded the Battle "E" for 1999.
In April of 2001, HS-3 deployed aboard the USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 65), which became the key force behind the highly successful first strikes against the Taliban in response to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The TRIDENTS conducted sustained CSAR, ASW, Logistics, NSW, and SAR operations in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
The TRIDENTS deployed in 2003 aboard the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT after a compressed Inter-Deployment readiness cycle. During the course of the deployment, HS-3 conducted ASW, Logistics, and SAR operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. After returning home in May, the TRIDENTS continued their operational tempo in a surge status until January 2004.
In September 2008, after completing a lengthy training cycle, the TRIDENTS deployed onboard the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT to the Arabian Sea in support of combat operations in Afghanistan. Along the way, HS-3 took part in a historic visit to Cape Town, South Africa. The USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT was the first U.S. carrier to visit Cape Town in over 40 years. The TRIDENTS ensured the success of the cooperative engagement with the South African government by transporting dignitaries on and off the ship, conducting an emergent 80,000 pound at-anchor vertical replenishment, and moving supplies for the reception ashore.
Once arriving on-station in the CENTCOM AOR, The TRIDENTS flew plane guard, anti-terrorism force protection, anti-surface warfare, logistics and anti-submarine warfare in direct support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and maritime security operations during the 2008-2009 deployment. The TRIDENTS also detached three H-60H aircraft to the USS SAN ANTONIO (LPD 17) and subsequently to the USNS LEWIS AND CLARK (T-AKE 1) for two months. This detachment supported Combined Task Force 151 counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The TRIDENTS assisted in apprehending 16 suspected pirates and paved the way for future operations in the region. For 2008 HS-3 won the CNAF Aviation Battle Efficiency, Commander, Naval Aviation Safety Center Safety "S", and the CAPT A. J. Isbell Trophy.
On 16 April 2009, the TRIDENTS returned home to Jacksonville, FL, from HS-3's final cruise as an HS squadron. In May 2009, the squadron started its permanent duty station change to Norfolk, VA and airframe change to the MH-60S. On 01 June 2009, the TRIDENTS officially became Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron NINE. In typical TRIDENT fashion, the squadron hit the ground running following their transition, lending support to three carrier qualification detachments. Two of these were on their new carrier, the USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH (CVN 77).
In January 2010, the TRIDENTS sent two helicopters in support of Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE, providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief following the devastating Haitian earthquake. Squadron personnel spent three months deployed on the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) and USS BATAAN (LHD 5) off the coast of Haiti, delivering over 280,000 pounds of disaster relief supplies and completing 240 MEDEVAC missions on the beleaguered island. The TRIDENTS also brought ashore over 556,000 pounds of sustainment supplies and made 1300 passenger transfers in support of the Operation.
In March and April 2010, the TRIDENTS took part in two detachments, one TCQ/FRSCQ on the USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH and another in support of special operations with SEALs at Fort Knox, KY and Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC). Upon the detachment’s return, the TRIDENTS commenced their workup cycle with Helicopter Advanced Readiness Program (HARP) and a detachment to Atlantic Undersea Training and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) on Andros Island, Bahamas. As part of AUTEX, the detachment completed 5 AGM-114 Hellfire missile shoots in Jacksonville, FL with a 100% success rate and accuracy.
In early 2013, HSC-9 was chosen to participate in the testing of the new 2.75” unguided rocket weapons system. Working with VX-1, they played a critical role in the tactical development and testing of this new weapons system and led its introduction to the fleet. In June, HSC-9 flew four helicopters to Fallon, NV for an unprecedented weapons training detachment during which they became the first Navy helicopter squadron since HAL-3 in Vietnam to employ rockets and 20mm cannon simultaneously. Additionally, in a two day period, the squadron expended 16 HELLFIRE missiles, all launches were successful.
Just a few months later, HSC-9 would return to Nevada, this time for Air Wing Fallon during which they would become the first Navy squadron to integrate live rocket, 20mm and HELLFIRE deliveries with fixed wing assets under FAC(A) and JTAC control, setting a new standard for combat effectiveness and earning praise as the “best helicopter Close Air Support squadron ever seen at Fallon.” Following multiple carrier qualification detachments and highly successful at sea periods during TSTA and COMPTUEX, HSC-9 now stands ready to deploy aboard the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN 77) as part of CVW-8 and CCSG-2.
The TRIDENTS deployed again in 2014 aboard USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH following an eventful workup cycle that included the squadron’s integration of two emerging strafe weapons systems, the M197 20mm Gatling gun and unguided rockets. Over the course of nine months, the TRIDENTS achieved a 98% sortie completion rate in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and INHERENT RESOLVE, conducting ASUW, SAR, and Logistics. Accolades earned from their tireless efforts during this deployment include both the Carrier Air Wing EIGHT “Golden Wrench” award for superior maintenance and the Battle “E” award.
In 2017 the TRIDENTS returned to Operation INHERENT RESOLVE with Carrier Air Wing EIGHT aboard USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, bringing with them another new weapons system to enhance their ASUW capabilities: the Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System and its laser-guided rockets. The TRIDENTS had the honor of supporting the first visit to Israel by a U.S. carrier this century by flying the US Ambassador to Israel and Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe out to the carrier in conjunction with a visit by the Israeli Prime Minister. Their deployment was capped by multiple instructive CSAR training missions with the British Royal Marines as part of SAXON WARRIOR, a coalition exercise designed to prepare the Royal Navy for its return to carrier operations. Throughout deployment the TRIDENTS flew over 1,800 hours of ASUW, SAR, and Logistics missions, moving over 5.5 million pounds of cargo including 200 pieces of ammunition in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.
As they have been since the founding of the squadron in 1952, HSC-9 is trained and ready to operate anywhere in the world while executing all of their many missions in support of the national defense of the United States and her citizens.