O ver the h O rizO n
Also in this issue: JoPA - time to tAke ChArge on leAdershiP, WArfighting Culture: doWn to the deCkPlAtes the firehAWks sAy fAreWell forging legends - triumPh And unity At the AirCreW ChAllenge CAPt nevius: A tPs trAilblAzer
Summer 2023 Number 161
Join NHA now for your All-Access Pass to NHA / GCFFI Social Events ($140 value FREE to current and new NHA Members) For information and to RSVP or sign up for golf: Use the QR Code below for the NHA Fleet Fly-In Page: LT Mike Twardy, USN Email: michael.a.twardy.mil@us,navy,mil Tel: (757) 506-2003 Download the NHA App, available in your App Store. “Naval Helicopter Assoc Events” For more information Gulf Coast Fleet Fly-In NHA Tailgate October 30 - November 2, 2023 Welcome BBQ Aircrew Burger Burn BBQ Sausage Lunch Morning Coffee Downtown Social GCFFI 23 Patch & Sticker Golf Your Questions Answered FAM Flights Static Displays Journal GCFFI Koozie 5K Fun Run Prizes Membership in Your Professional Organization
About the Cover Artist conception of the Navy’s vertical lift forces supporting the Air Wing of the Future and the Ship-Air Team’s Distributed Maritime Operations’ overthe-horizon capabilities.”
Rotor Review (ISSN: 1085-9683) is published quarterly by the Naval Helicopter Association, Inc. (NHA), a California nonprofit 501(c)(6) corporation. NHA is located in Building 654, Rogers Road, NASNI, San Diego, CA 92135. Views expressed in Rotor Review are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the policies of NHA or United States Navy, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard. Rotor Review is printed in the USA. Periodical rate postage is paid at San Diego, CA. Subscription to Rotor Review is included in the NHA or corporate membership fee. A current corporation annual report, prepared in accordance with Section 8321 of the California Corporation Code, is available on the NHA Website at www. navalhelicopterassn.org.
POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Naval Helicopter Association, P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578.
Rotor Review supports the goals of the association, provides a forum for discussion and exchange of information on topics of interest to the Rotary Force and keeps membership informed of NHA activities. As necessary, the President of NHA will provide guidance to the Rotor Review Editorial Board to ensure Rotor Review content continues to support this statement of policy as the Naval Helicopter Association adjusts to the expanding and evolving Rotary Wing and Tilt Rotor Communities
FOCUS: Over the Horizon
There’s No Rank in the Cockpit - How Aircraft Commanders .......................................26 Should Navigate the Pilot-Aircrewman Relationship
By LT Andrew Calloway, USN
HX-21 MH-60R/S Test Team Update to the Fleet..................................................................28
By LCDR Ben "3D" Putbrese, USN
Seahunter - Train to Win..............................................................................................................31
By LT Matthew "Velvet" Sacks, USN
Create a Naval Unmanned Aviation Community.....................................................................32
By CDR Matt Wright, USN and LT Danny Whitsett, USN
A Better Way to Deal with Deadly Sea Mines.........................................................................36
By LCDR U.H. (Jack) Rowley, USN (Ret.) SWO/EDO
I Planned for this Years Ago: Making a Precautionary Emergency Landing in Haiti..........40
By LT Garrett Hendrickson, USCG
Tiltrotor in the Changing Context of Pacific Defense and Deterrence............................42
By Robbin Laird
Great Power Competition, Deterrence and Projection: ......................................................46
Navy Future Vertical Lift (FVL) in the Pacific
(Ret.), Senior Manager, Bell Military Sales & Strategy
Build Expeditionary ASW Air - Combat Elements.....................................................................56
By CDR Matt Wright, USN and CDR Jamie Powers, USN
The Role, Culture and Importance of the Rotary Wing Community................................48 Today and Tomorrow
From Naval Aviation Enterprise Communications Team
Radio Check - Three Takaways from Symposium 2023........................................................49
VADM Dean Peters, USN (Ret.)
Past Legends Panel - Advice for the Future.............................................................................50
By CAPT Sandy Clark, USN (Ret.)
Forging Legends - Triumph and Unity at the Aircrew Challenge.........................................52
AWR1 Ronald "Scrappy" Pieroint, USN
Symposium as Told Through Pictures.........................................................................................53
Photos by Ray Rivard, NHA
HSC-9 Conducts MEDEVAC of Sailor from Submarine.......................................................68
By LT Shea "Simba" Davis, USN
The Firehawks Say Farewell.........................................................................................................70
By CDR Robert "Ricky Bobby" Coffman, USN
CAPT Nevius: A TPS Trailblazer..................................................................................................74
By LT Katie "SID" Kidder, USN
A Leak in the CRM........................................................................................................................76
By LT Marc "Nancy" Pelessone, USN
The True Value of a Fellowship.....................................................................................................77
By CDR C. Stiles Herdt, USN
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 2
From the Editor-in-Chief........................................................................................................12
On Leadership .........................................................................................................................14
Warfighting Culture: Down to the Deckplates
By RDML Kevin P. Lenox, USN, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three
JOPA - Time to Take Charge
By CAPT Edward Johnson, USN, HSCWINGLANT Commodore
Scholarship Fund Update ......................................................................................................18
View from the Labs ...............................................................................................................24
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Industry and Technology.........................................................................................................78
$41.4M Contract Awarded For AHTS Flight Simulator Facility
By Jeffrey Hamlin, NAVFAC Public Affairs, Jacksonville, Fl.
Book Review: Now This Ain't No Shit - By Steve Letchworth
Reviewed by CDR Jen Evanco, USN (Ret.)
Movie Review: Flight of the Intruder
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.) Engaging
Previous Rotor Review Editors
Wayne Jensen - John Ball - John Driver - Sean Laughlin - Andy Quiett
Mike Curtis - Susan Fink - Bill Chase - Tracey Keefe - Maureen Palmerino
Bryan Buljat - Gabe Soltero - Todd Vorenkamp - Steve Bury - Clay Shane
Kristin Ohleger - Scott Lippincott - Allison Fletcher - Ash Preston - Emily Lapp
Mallory Decker - Caleb Levee - Shane Brenner - Shelby Gillis - Michael Short
LT Annie "Frizzle" Cutchen, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
Allyson "Clown" Darroch email@example.com
CDR John Ball, USN (Ret.) firstname.lastname@example.org
CAPT John Driver, USN (Ret.) email@example.com
LT Elisha "Grudge" Clark, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
AWR1 Ronald "Scrappy" Pierpoint, USN email@example.com
LT Molly "Deuce" Burns, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
LT John “GID’R” Dunne, USN email@example.com
LT Tyler "Benji" Benner, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
LT Andrew "Gonzo" Gregory, USN email@example.com
LT Joshua "Hotdog" Holsey, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
LT Abby "Abuela" Bohlin, USN email@example.com
LT Thomas "Buffer" Marryott Jr, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
LT Nathan "MAM" Beatty, USN email@example.com
LT Jared "Dogbeers" Jackson, USN firstname.lastname@example.org
Maj. Nolan "Lean Bean" Vihlen, USMC email@example.com
LT Marco Tinari, USCG firstname.lastname@example.org
LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.) email@example.com
Chairman’s Brief .......................................................................................................................6 National President's Message.................................................................................................7 Executive Director's View.........................................................................................................8 Vice President of
Change of Command..............................................................................................................80 Squadron Updates HT-8 Assists in Search and Rescue.................................................................................................84 Ms. Paula Eagan Celebrates 45 Years of Service at Whiting............................................84 USS Nimitz Helicopters Support Guam Relief Effort............................................................85 Influential Leadership Comes to South Whiting...............................................................86 Transitioning to the TH-73 Thrasher.....................................................................................87
©2023 Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., all rights reserved
Thank You to Our Corporate Members - Your Support Keeps Our Rotors Turning
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Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 4
Gold SupporterS executive SupporterS
Naval Helicopter Association, Inc.
P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578 - (619) 435-7139
President.........................................CDR Tommy Butts, USN
Vice President.........................................CDR Eli Owre, USN
Executive Director...............CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
Business Development..............................Ms. Linda Vydra
Managing Editor, Rotor Review........Ms. Allyson Darroch
Retired Affairs...................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Legal Advisor...........................CDR Chris Cooke, USN (Ret.)
VP Corp. Membership..........CAPT Tres Dehay, USN (Ret.)
VP Awards.................................CDR Philip Pretzinger, USN
VP Membership........................LT Brendan McGinnis, USN
VP Symposium 2024.....................CDR Tommy Butts, USN
Secretary..........................................LT Jimmy Gavidia, USN
NHA Branding and Gear............................LT Sam Kim, USN
Senior HSM Advisor.............AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN
Senior HSC Advisor..................AWSCM Shane Gibbs, USN
Senior VRM Advisor........AWFCM Jose Colon-Torres, USN
Directors at Large
Chairman...............................RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Gene Ager, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Chuck Deitchman, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Tony Dzielski, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Greg Hoffman, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Mario Mifsud, USN (Ret)*
CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)*
CAPT Matt Schnappauf, USN (Ret.)*
LT Zoe MacFarlane, USN*
AWRCM Nathan Hickey, USN*
* Also serving as Scholarship Fund Board Members
Junior Officers Council
Nat’l Pres....................... LT Zoe "Latrina" MacFarlane, USN
Region 1........................LT Ryan "Shaggy" Rodriguez, USN
Region 2 ......................................LT Rob "JORTS" Platt, USN
Region 3 ..............LT Harrison "Dusty Bottoms" Pyle, USN
Region 4 ................................LT Rochelle "PG" Balum, USN
Region 5................................LT Chris "BOTOX" Stuller, USN
Region 6....................................LT Robert "DB" Macko,
NHA Scholarship Fund
President .............................CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)
Executive VP/ VP Ops ...CAPT Todd Vandegrift, USN (Ret.)
VP Plans................................................CAPT Jon Kline, USN
VP Scholarships ..............................Ms. Nancy Ruttenberg
VP Finance ...................................CDR Greg Knutson, USN
Treasurer........................................................Ms. Jen Swasey
Webmaster........................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Social Media .............................................................VACANT
CFC/Special Projects ...............................................VACANT
Region 1 - San Diego
Directors ......................................CAPT Chris Richard, USN
CAPT Will Eastham, USN
CAPT Justin McCaffree, USN
CAPT Nathan Rodenbarger, USN
President ..................................CDR Scott Lippincott, USN
Region 2 - Washington, D.C.
Director ........................................ CAPT Andy Berner, USN President ...........................................CDR Tony Perez, USN
Co-President.................................CDR Pat Jeck, USN (Ret.)
Region 3 - Jacksonville
Director...................................CAPT Teague Laguens, USN
President............................................CDR Dave Bigay, USN
Region 4 - Norfolk
Director...................,........................CAPT Ed Johnson, USN President .........................................CDR Matt Wright, USN
Region 5 - Pensacola
Director ...........................................CAPT Jade Lepke, USN President ......................................CDR Keith Johnson, USN '23 Fleet Fly-In Coordinator...............LT Chris Stuller, USN
Region 6 - OCONUS
Director ...........................................CAPT Mike O'Neil, USN President .............................CDR M. E. Kawika Chang, USN
NHA Historical Society (NHAHS)
President............................CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.)
VP/Webmaster..................CDR Mike Brattland, USN (Ret.)
Secretary................................LCDR Brian Miller, USN (Ret.)
Treasurer...........................CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.)
S.D. Air & Space Museum.....CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
NHAHS Committee Members
CAPT Dennis DuBard, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mike Reber, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Jim O’Brien, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Curtis Shaub, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mike O’Connor, USN (Ret.)
CDR John Ball, USN (Ret.)
CDR Chris Fitzgerald, USN (Ret.)
LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
Master Chief Dave Crossan, USN (Ret.)
CDR D.J. Hayes, USN (Ret.)
CAPT C.B. Smiley, USN (Ret.)
CAPT J.M. Purtell, USN (Ret.)
H.V. Pepper, USN (Ret.)
CAPT A.E. Monahan, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Mark R. Starr, USN (Ret.)
CAPT A.F. Emig, USN (Ret.)
Mr. H. Nachlin
CDR H.F. McLinden, USN (Ret.)
CDR W. Straight, USN (Ret.)
CDR P.W. Nicholas, USN (Ret.)
Navy Helicopter Association Founders
NHA Symposium 2023 Wrap Up and Way Forward
By RADM D.H. “Dano” Fillion, USN (Ret.)
Symposium 23 was a HUGE success and much of the feedback was extremely positive! Equally as impressive were the very constructive comments about what members think we, as an organization, can do better for the execution of the event. We received suggestions about the format and scheduling of the panels and got some transportation questions. We heard positives and suggestions from industry on how we can better support our industry partners and we very much value that input.
NHA Staff is here to support the membership because our membership is NHA! The Retired Flag Community was well represented as were our newly weaponized Trustees, thanks to CAPT (Ret.) Sandy Clark! I promise each member that we will hear you and will take action on your recommendations or I will address the reasons why at the start of next year’s Symposium. Bravo Zulu to all who made Symposium 23 a huge success. SYM 23 is now a “track history dot.”
Moving forward we will continue to be a venue for comradery, mentorship and advocacy. Membership will see an increase in NHA outreach providing information on employment opportunities for all of our members. Mentorship across all paygrades within NHA is available by some of the best Officer/Enlisted Leaders, not only in NHA, but across the NAE! NHA outreach is not only for our active duty, but also for those warriors who are retiring or transitioning out prior to twenty years. No matter what your civilian career desires are, NHA can connect you and your family with someone who has done it already! The relentless advocacy of our active and retired rotary wing Master Chiefs and some hard charging Flags inside the Pentagon have now got the long overdue RSB (Rescue Swimmers Badge) with the Navy Uniform Board! The membership of NHA (active/ retired/corporate) as an organization simply does not know how to LOSE!!!
“THE ONLY PLACE SUCCESS COMES BEFORE WORK IS IN THE DICTIONARY.”
Coach Vince Lombardi
As always, I am, V/r and CNJI (Committed Not Just Involved), Dano
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Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 6 Chairman’s Brief
The Future is Bright
By CDR Emily “ABE” Stellpflug, USN
Greetings from NHA! I hope you all enjoyed the FIRST Symposium at Harrah’s as much as I did! It was fantastic to see so many familiar faces and relive tales from the past. A highlight for me was the Legends Panel and having the opportunity to hear sea stories from those of a different rotary force era. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, but as we look toward two more years at Harrah’s, we’re very interested in how we can make it BETTER!
The Symposium would not have been possible without the volunteers—led by a joint effort from HSM-41 Seahawks and HSC-3 Merlins. The enterprising JOs and CPOs came up with the theme, meticulously planned the panels, and executed flawlessly! I’m still marveling over the first ever, on site CHALLENGE—featuring a swim against the lazy river and a serious up-slope fire truck pull. The creativity throughout Symposium was phenomenal. Thank you volunteers!
This is my final note as your NHA National President (I know—you’ll be glad to hear from someone more inspired). It truly has been a joy to serve and look behind the curtain to see all of the hard work to keep the organization running. Special thank you to the NHA, Historical Society, and Scholarship Fund Staffs—CAPT Gillcrist, USN (Ret), CAPT Personius, USN (Ret), CAPT Nelson, USN (Ret), CDR Brattland, USN (Ret), Linda, and Allyson. It’s been a joy to work with all of you and thank you for what you do for the organization day in and day out. None of this would be possible without your dedication.
Finally, it’s time for me to pass controls to CDR Tommy “Smokey” Butts, Commanding Officer of HSC-3. I have only known him a short time, but I am immediately impressed by his charisma, positive energy, and innovative ideas. NHA is in great hands and Smokey is postured to take the organization to the next level. Smokey—you have the controls!
Best Wishes and Fly Safe!
V/R ABE, NHA Lifetime Member #481
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 7 National President's Message
Sailors assigned to Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron (VRM) 30 direct a CMV-22B Osprey from the "Titans" of VRM 30 on the flight deck of Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). U.S. Navy Photo.
NHA’s Best Kept Secret
By CAPT Jim Gillcrist, USN (Ret.)
Thebest kept secret in this vibrant professional organization is its members. The NHA Staff has the immense privilege every day of working alongside high caliber folks from the National Leadership to Junior Officer and Aircrew Reps across the entire Rotary Force – coast to coast no matter what the platform. So, it is appropriate to call out just a few individuals who have made a difference:
• ABE: Thanks for leaning in as National President for two Symposiums and bringing VRM into the mix. NHA is better off now with Rotor Review in “print” and Stipend Program back.
• Whiz: Thanks for serving as National Vice President & VP for Symposium. We did something different and executed year one of a three-year contract at Harrah’s Resort. Under your lead, Symposium was a huge success with areas for improvement.
• CaSPR: As National J.O. President, thanks for all your energy and insights and for always being on hot standby.
• Frizzle: As Editor-in-Chief of Rotor Review, thanks for raising the bar on magazine content and quality – the PreSymposium Issue was a great read.
• Lastly, a heartfelt thanks and sense of indebtedness to all the J.O.s and Aircrew who pitched in to turbocharge the 2023 Symposium at Harrah’s. Your volunteerism and high commitment made the difference to include AWRC Dickman, AWRC Granger, AWSC Cantwell, AWRCM Neubarth, Lucky, Gidr, RIMM, Brainy, Kendall, Grudge, Fanny, Shaggy, CaSPR, Deuce, Hot Dog, Heater, Splash, Icarus, Meat Dog, Freestream, Mullet, Nemo, Weezy, WYLD Bill, Tuca, Landfill, Reptar, PG, Dusty Bottoms, BOTOX, McNugget, Buffer, BOJ, Quiet Riot, CTAF, SID, Gonzo, Frizzle, Sundance, and BradChad to name a few. You guyz and galz rock.
In closing, we are a relationship organization. Meaning that the relationships we make at the squadron and aboard ship on deployment are lifelong, enriching, and purposeful. These same relationships continue downstream and remain powerful throughout our military careers, as well as when we transition to our next adventure outside of the service. We look after one another and pay it forward continuously. This is why we are members of our professional organization!
Please keep your membership profile up to date (mailing address and region affiliation). If you should need any assistance at all, give us a call at (619) 435-7139 and we will be happy to help – you will get Linda, Mike, Allyson, or myself.
Warm regards with high hopes, Jim Gillcrist.
Every Member Counts / Stronger Together
Receiving Cash Award are HSC-21 XO ("Lurch") and CO ("Zoo") from NHA Executive Director ("Super G")
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 8 Executive Director’s View
Max Beep Cash Award Presentation of $1500.00 to “two-time high honors winner” HSC-21.
LT Jose Escobedo, USN / HSC-21 LTM #310
CDR Kron Littleton, USN (Ret.) LTM #745
LCDR Chris Siedsma, USN / HSC-23 LTM #309
Congratulations and Thank You to our Newest Lifetime Members!
LT Sam Holland, USN / HSM-71 LTM # 760
(L) LCDR Casey Vann, USN / USS TRIPOLI / LTM #723 (R) LT Katie Gallagher, USN / HSCWP WS / LTM #305
CDR Jared Powell, USN / TACRON-12 LTM #607
LCDR Bill Sears, USN (Ret.) LTM #247
Mr. Bob Thompson / H-60 FST Cherry Point / LTM #704
Over the Horizon
By LCDR Bill "WYLD Bill" Teal, USN
Going over the horizon is the bread and butter of Naval Aviation. We are constantly tasked to go and find out what is ahead of mom. All of us have been briefed with some very vague intel about what exists out there and then promptly strapped on the helo to go find out how accurate the intel was. What is it about our nature that drives us to do that? What risk analysis do we run where “unknown vessel left unknown port at unknown time for unknown destination” is valuable enough intel worthy of an o-dark-thirty alert launch? What gives us the confidence, despite these challenges, that it will be just another bag with a hotplate waiting for us when we land?
Culture. From the beginning of helicopter training, every pilot is immersed in CRM. The understanding is that the person sitting next to you, the ones in the back, or the team turning wrenches will all pick up each other’s slack, because no one wants to be the weak link. The culture of teamwork, that we will push each other to be better on every flight and set aside all our differences to help each other in a pinch, is what drives Naval Aviation.
But that culture only continues if nurtured with purposeful efforts by everyone in the community to keep it strong. At NHA, the ethos of “every member counts, and we are stronger together” isn’t just a tagline. These phrases summarize that understanding, that when crossing the horizon, it might be that lone crew that makes the difference. A tight knit crew working the problem and providing the lay of the sea to those about to crest the horizon could yield the tactical advantage.
But if we are to truly look over the horizon, we have to identify how we can be better before getting there. As your professional organization, our mission is your success, we are your voice for your needs. Whether that is advocacy in the form of current and retired leadership making known what is needed to keep Naval Helicopter Aviation strong. Or, promoting innovation that comes from our younger members with new ways to look at old problems. Or, simply providing that mentor to help you figure out what is that next step for your career whether in or out of uniform. We are here to help every member. While one day everyone has to hang up the flight suit, NHA encourages its members to continue to live that culture. We have all been taught this is not a single person job, and every member of the crew (or organization) has a vital role in the success of the mission.
So, as you look over the horizon, what are you doing to prepare. Have you assembled the crew you want and need to face the unknown? Do you have a squadron mate who should be reminded to join the team? Are you a Lifetime Member fully involved and not just committed to our organization's ethos? There is always an opportunity for us to be better and more prepared for whatever is over the horizon!
LCDR “WYLD Bill” Teal NHA VP of Membership LTM #291
It was a Tie! 100% membership for two Operational Squadrons: HSM-71 Raptors and HSM-75 Wolfpack
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 10
of membership Report
HSC-21 gets the "big check" for the second year in a row!
Small Unit 100% Award HSC Weapons School Pacific
Disassociated Tour 100% Award LHA-7 USS Tripoli Drinks on the House
Over the Horizon
By LT Annie "Frizzle" Cutchen, USN
Overthe Horizon felt salient following a year of big changes in our rotary wing community. The emphasis on past and present legends at NHA sparked many conversations around how much we have evolved as a community both culturally and operationally. Culturally, we have accepted women into the fold as combat-ready aircrew. Operationally, we have refined the tactics, techniques, and procedures our predecessors developed on the fly (pun intended) in combat and applied modern technology to them to create our standard operating procedures. As a result, we have become a more lethal force with a farther reach.
The Naval Helicopter Association is not just an organization for pilots, but one for our aircrewmen and maintainers as well–these individuals are just as much a part of the development of our community as our pilots. For this reason, Rotor Review #162, “So Others May Live,” will focus on our aircrewmen. It is about time we celebrate this integral part of our crew.
What sets us apart from our fixed wing brethren? It’s the men and women in the back of the aircraft with whom we work side by side to accomplish the mission. We would not be able to accomplish the mission without these brave individuals that, for better or worse, trust us to put the aircraft in a safe position for them to execute their duties as radar operators, rescue swimmers, door gunners, and logistics professionals.
We want to hear from you, aircrew, about how you have refined how you operate throughout our history as a community and where we still need to improve. Rotor Review wants the tales of the times our aircrewmen have saved the day with a time critical call or with a course correction in mission planning. Overall, we want your voice to be heard and your photographs to have a place in this publication.
As always, submissions are not required to align directly with our theme, but we hope readership takes the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and efforts put forth by these individuals and create a dedicated space for your voices to be heard.
The submission deadline for Rotor Review #162 is 9 October. We look forward to hearing from you! .
V/r, LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 12
From the Editor-in-Chief
Letters to the Editors
It is always great to hear from our membership! We need your input to ensure that Rotor Review keeps you informed, connected, and entertained. We maintain many open channels to contact the magazine staff for feedback, suggestions, praise, complaints or publishing corrections. Please advise us if you do not wish to have your input published in the magazine. Your anonymity will be respected. Post comments on the NHA Facebook Page or send an email to the Editor-in-Chief. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org, or to the Managing Editor at email@example.com. You can use snail mail too. Rotor Review’s mailing address is: Letters to the Editor, c/o Naval Helicopter Association, Inc., P.O. Box 180578, Coronado, CA 92178-0578.
Tell Us What You Think!
Radio Check is moving to Facebook! Head over to Facebook and “like” Naval Helicopter Association, Inc. to participate in the Radio Check thread.
We look forward to hearing from you!
V/r, LT Annie “Frizzle” Cutchen Editor-in-Chief, Rotor Review firstname.lastname@example.org
Articles and news items are welcomed from NHA’s general membership and corporate associates. Articles should be of general interest to the readership and geared toward current Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard affairs, technical advances in the rotary wing / tilt rotor industry or of historical interest. Humorous articles are encouraged.
Rotor Review and Website Submission Guidelines
• Articles: MS Word documents for text. Do not embed your images within the document. Send as a separate attachment.
• Photos and Vector Images: Should be as high a resolution as possible and sent as a separate file from the article. Please include a suggested caption that has the following information: date, names, ranks or titles, location and credit the photographer or source of your image.
• Videos: Must be in a mp4, mov, wmv or avi format. With your submission, please include the title and caption of all media, photographer’s name, command and the length of the video.
• Verify the media does not display any classified information.
• Ensure all maneuvers comply with NATOPS procedures.
• All submissions shall be tasteful and in keeping with good order and discipline.
• All submissions should portray the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard and individual units in a positive light.
All submissions can be sent via email to your community editor, the Editor-in-Chief (annie.l.cutchen.mil@ us.navy.mil),or the Managing Editor (email@example.com). You can also use the USPS mail. Our mailing address is Naval Helicopter Association : P.O. Box 180578 Coronado, CA 92178-0578
Warfighting Culture: Down to the Deckplates
By RDML Kevin Lenox, USN
My timing when I took command of Carrier Strike Group Three was fortuitous. The ceremony was on a Friday and the following Monday I headed to Fallon for WARCOM, the annual seminar where the Navy’s warfighting leadership gathers to discuss the high-end fight at a fully informed level. It was September 2022, about five years since my last deployment, and I was looking forward to seeing what had changed. The short answer was: pretty much everything.
My previous deployment had been in 2017 onboard USS Nimitz. It was similar, in many ways, to my first deployment in 1994 and all those that followed. We passed quickly through the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean on our way to the Arabian Gulf. Once there, we supported the Air Tasking Order (ATO) and provided sorties to the Combined Force Air Component Commander (CFACC), striking ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria - we dominated in all domains. We kept a closer eye on Iran than in the past but knew we could defeat them if necessary.
Every day I let the crew know how every one of them had contributed to our mission success. We all supported the warfighter. And the warfighter, the one doing the fighting, the one exposed to the dangers of combat, was somewhere else. Onboard the ship we were certainly ready to fight, but it wasn’t imminent. We operated from what was effectively a maritime sanctuary.
That is not the fight we discussed at WARCOM. This new fight is akin to contesting the Soviet Fleet in the 80’s. If a fight in the Pacific kicks off, it will be more like a high tech WWII; a fleet-on-fleet engagement with space-based, AI-enabled ISR and long range precision fires that reach out hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles.
At WARCOM, we talked about the exquisite tactics, concepts, and capabilities we will employ to generate a warfighting advantage, but we need something more. In order to prevail, our forces also need a strong warfighting culture, one that goes all the way down to the deckplates.
If we want to know what that looks like, we can look back to our history. At the Battle off Samar, as detailed in The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, the small destroyer USS Johnston charged into the teeth of a superior Imperial Japanese force. During the opening salvo of the battle, after finding themselves on the wrong side of tactical surprise, they loaded and fired hundreds of 54 pound, 5 inch shells in just 5 minutes, scoring more than 40 hits on a much larger enemy cruiser. They showed incredible courage and skill after a sudden and unexpected transition to combat.
The courage was a reflection of their character and trust in each other, but that skill was a choice. It was a choice they had
made many months earlier, before they deployed, to put in the time, the study, the effort, and the practice to be flawless at their job, even under fire. We must lead our Sailors so that they make that same choice today.
We have spectacular Sailors in the Fleet right now, the best I have seen over my 33-year career. These young Sailors always show up on game day, they run to the fire. When Nimitz arrived in the Gulf in 2017, the heat index on the flight deck reached 154 degrees. The Sailors leaned into the searing heat, with some of my flight deck crew losing 60 pounds over the next three months, but we did not miss any “vul windows” up in the “box” because they refused to let that happen. I have zero doubt about the character and heart of these young Sailors. But on game day, you can only be as good as you have trained to be. That’s doubly true for the complex things we do today like electronic maneuver warfare and distributed maritime operations.
We have to do the work. We must pair our equipment with our Sailors and train until we forge a reliable warfighting capability. To me that is:
- Reliable equipment
- A well-trained Sailor ready to operate the equipment
- Reps and sets to ensure flawless execution under stress
- Trained technicians to maintain and repair the equipment
- The necessary spare parts, accessible during the fight
Those things together represent a true warfighting capability and you will only get the commitment needed to build it if you have the proper culture. This is why my number one priority as a commander is: Build a Warfighting Culture All the Way Down to the Deckplates.
We must ensure that our culture meets the moment. As military leaders, we own the culture of our organizations.
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 14
RDML Kevin P. Lenox,USN, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three, speaks during the 2023 Naval Helicopter Association Symposium in Funner, CA., May 19, 2023. The 2023 NHA Symposium brought together junior and senior Naval Aviators and industry partners to discuss topics and initiatives to improve the safety and war-fighting effectiveness of the U.S. Navy rotary-wing community. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Keenan Daniels, USN.
Today our culture must ensure that our Sailors understand the nature of the Pacific environment, recognize that every single Sailor is a warfighter, and foster a total commitment to winning in combat, long before the fight begins.
ADM Paparo published the template for how we can set those conditions in his Fleet Orders: Safety, Ready to Fight, Shipshape and Seaworthy, Teamwork, Morale, and Family. As I read them, “Ready to Fight” is the central task. It describes a mindset we must embody on deployment that will facilitate a rapid transition from competition to highend warfighting. The other orders are supporting and describe those aspects of service where we as leaders must set the conditions so that our Sailors can fully commit to being ready to fight. Read together as a whole and viewed through that lens, these orders are an integrated framework for building the needed warfighting culture. It is worth your time to re-read them periodically and to take a bearing on how your team is doing. These orders are a “North Star,” guiding us all to where we need to be as a fighting force.
As we develop committed Sailors who are ready to fight, we must also change the way we think about execution. I’m talking about “crawl, walk, run” vs. “do it right the first time.” The first is a prudent mindset for training but, as a Navy, we have become accustomed to ramping up to the needed high level of performance while operating forward. We have enjoyed that luxury over the last few decades because we have been operating in areas where we possessed all domain dominance. If we didn’t hit a target on a particular mission, we debriefed the mission, identified the problem, and restruck the target during the next ATO. The delay provided no enduring advantage for the enemy because we had persistent dominance in all other areas of the theater during that era.
That is not how things will go in the Pacific. We have not faced a peer competitor at sea in decades. We will be maneuvering in all domains and using our capabilities to generate fleeting opportunities that we must exploit on the first try. And if we miss on that first try, the enemy will shoot back.
While that sounds obvious, it is a change from how we have operated over these last few decades. Every Sailor: in the cockpit, on a console in the combat information center, on the bridge, turning wrenches in the hangar bay and down
in engineering, standing lookout on the fantail; everywhere throughout the ship - all of them are warfighters, exposed to combat risk and critical to our success in this fight. They must train until they always do their job right the first time.
The sustained effort required to do this must come from within each Sailor. Triads, Wardrooms, and CPO Messes around the Fleet must set the conditions and build a culture that fosters this high level of performance and celebrates those who achieve it. That is the central challenge of this moment.
This would be a costly fight on both sides of the fight by any metric: lives, ships, munitions, dollars, infrastructure. By building this warfighting culture, and being ready to use it with confidence and ferocity, we will dissuade our opponent from choosing this fight. Our opponent must understand that, while we do not seek conflict, we are ready to prevail if conflict comes.
As leaders, remember:
• Every Sailor is a warfighter.
• Our culture must enable and encourage every Sailor to commit to winning in combat.
• We must be ready to execute flawlessly on the first try.
• These truths, understood down to the deckplates, will ensure our success if deterrence fails.
Note: The views presented are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of DoD or its Components.
USS Johnston (DD 557) underway on 27 October 1943. Image from Naval History and Heritage Command (NH-63495).
JOPA – Time to Take Charge
By CAPT Edward Johnson, USN, HSCWINGLANT Commodore
I’venever been much of a golfer. Ask anyone who has played with me. They’ll tell you I keep score by counting the number of sleeves of balls I go through, and often face the humiliating experience of my tee shot not making it past the kiddie tees. In every round, there is one hole or even just one shot, which makes me think that, just maybe, I’m about to get better. Sprinkle in the pure joy of hearing the announcer at the end of an NHA Tournament call for “Al Koholic” (who, it turns out, is the perennial winner of the longest drive contest), and watching the foursome behind you gleefully walk up to their “best tee shot ever,” only to find it was a marshmallow deposited by yours truly, and I find I have a recipe that keeps me coming back and trying this infernal sport ONE MORE TIME.
As I enter the waning days of my active time in the rotary community, for we never really leave, I find myself becoming increasingly nostalgic. Yes, in part for good times and adventures past, but also for the future opportunity to influence and guide this ever-evolving community. I find, as I look back, that my career has also been like a round of golf. Every tour has had its share of frustrations and tee shots that don’t go past the kiddie tees, but it has also had at least one 300 yard shot with just the right hint of fade. Like the time, after being fished out of the drink having just lost tail rotor drive on short final to a DD that a young Airman from the HSL Det came up to me and said, “Gee whiz sir, I can’t believe you all risk your lives to bring us the mail.” Or the times I’ve watched JO’s and DH’s of mine become commanding officers, some for the second time (looking at you, 3D), and watching them truly blossom as leaders. There is just something special about rotary wing aviation. Maybe it’s that we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but not for granted either. Maybe it’s the deep connection to our Sailors that forms in small detachments and in our crews. Maybe it’s that we still think potty humor is funny. I don’t know, but what I do know is that it requires careful and thoughtful curation and nurturing.
Which is where you come in, JOPA. This is your community now. I challenge you to take a pragmatic and active role in shaping its evolution over the next two decades. To meet the threat of a peer competitor, Naval Aviation has had to rethink its roles and organization, and we must do the same. Not in terms of how we can use this reshaping as an opportunity for our own tribe to flourish, but in terms of how the unique capabilities of Naval Rotary Wing Aviation can be tailored to enable Fleet objectives and close critical capability gaps. Everything must be on the table. Learn the challenges that face our Nation today, how our Navy fits in, and how we can best adapt to enable the Fleet to meet the Nation’s needs. But also remember, the Fleet needs what only we can deliver. Without rotary wing, there is simply no “fight tomorrow.”
As you wade into this evolution, own what you control, stretch your wings, but always be aware of your limitations and work tirelessly to address them. Most importantly, do not be afraid to fail, try again, fail again, but fail better (Samuel Beckett said that). Always endeavor to make sure you’ve worked hard enough that when it comes time to leave the community, or the Navy for that matter, it mattered that you were ever in it. Your success, and our success, comes not in terms of the awards you earn, but in terms of the lives you touch. Keep looking for that “one great shot” in every tour, hold on to it and let it bring you back for one more round - we’re counting on you, so don’t F it up!
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 16 Commodore's Corner
Break Out Your Cameras and Shoot!
NHA Rotor Review Photo Contest
Submit your photos by October 31, 2023. Send your entries by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or upload to the NHA G-Drive: https://drive.google.com/ drive/folders/1RtVyx07yEX_S-v6KyMVnlw2P0w8jAa-v?usp=sharing.
Please include your name and contact information with your submission.
NHA Rotor Review Photo Contest is open to all Naval Helicopter Association (NHA) Members.
The NHA Rotor Review Photo Contest ends October 31, 2023. What to Enter:
There are two categories for images: Current and Historical.
Acceptable photo entries need to be high resolution 300 dpi or more and without extensive photo manipulation. No photoshopping with the exception of cropping or minor contrast adjustments. Include a caption and a brief description of your photographic process (camera used, lens, settings, lighting and any post production image manipulation).
All entries must meet the following guidelines:
• Media does not display any classified information or material.
• No depictions of sensitive actions or personnel.
• No “outside” NATOPS maneuvers or actions or said actions that could be perceived as violating procedures.
• All submissions should portray the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard in a positive light.
NHA members will judge the entries of the NHA Rotor Review Photo Contest. The voting process will begin 12:00a.m. PDT on November 1, 2023 and end at 11: 59p.m. PDT on November 30, 2023. Entries will be assigned a random number and scored on a point system. Multiple judging emails from a single address will only be counted once.
NHA will give out the following prizes for winning photos in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in both Current and Historical Categories.
1st Prize: $150.00 Visa Gift Card
2nd Prize: $100.00 Visa Gift Card
3rd Prize: $50.00 Visa Gift Card
The 1st Prize Photo submissions will be on upcoming covers of Rotor Review.
Authorization of Release: Entry into this contest gives the Rotor Review Editorial Staff and NHA authorization to publish in Rotor Review and any other NHA media.
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike Lenart photographs amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge from a MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter with HSC-22. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman.)
Naval Helicopter Association Scholarship Fund
Trust but Verify
(December 1987, Ronald Reagan on nuclear disarmament)
By CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.), President NHASF NHA LTM #4 / RW#13762
the late 70’s (8 -9 November 1978), I was a young RH-53D HAC with 750 hours total time (note: Naval Aviation Safety Center reckoned that was a dangerous time in the maturing of a naval aviator). That autumn day, a cold front was making its way across the mid-Atlantic and up the east coast. NAS Norfolk and points north were in for some cold, wet, windy weather with low ceilings. Some would say perfect IFR weather.
My crew and I had been canceled, happy to be off the hook in the crummy weather; it was dog****, just above standard card minimums. As we slogged up to the hangar loft to change from our wet flight gear into the uniform of the day (see previous article on NAS Norfolk and environs dress code during the 70’s-80’s), the Ops Officer saw us pass by his office.
It seemed many of our leaders were firm believers in MBWC (management by water cooler). Like management by objective (MBO), MBWC’s nuances were also straightforward – simply, whoever the CO/XO/OPSO saw first after reading the morning message board got the mission (like Navy Relief, or the Annual Blood Drive, or CFC Officer). Thinking about it, I can still feel the monkey jumping.
So, while most of the other squadron aviators were enjoying their third cuppa Joe in the LP 4 Wardroom, the OPS Officer called us into his office.
He said: “Look, we have a mission. The squadron across the hangar deck canceled a logistics run up to Sikorsky and the Wing has passed it to us. We’re loading the two H-53 main gear boxes on low boy stands that must get up to the Sikorsky Overhaul Plant – not the factory or the test facility, but the helipad at the Maintenance Facility… it’s right here on the map about 3 miles west of the Igor Sikorsky Airport. It’ll take all day, so you are authorized to “RON.” Any questions? Since you have completed your preflight, get hot with your flight plan and weather brief…and don’t forget the fuel packet and nav bag!”
We looked at him and said, “Roger that, sir, we’ll be airborne in an hour.”
As we filled out our DD-175, we asked the ODO (a fellow HAC with 800 hours), “Hey, what’s the ICAO for Igor Sikorsky Airport?” He looked at us and said, with utter confidence, “Igor Sikorsky in Bridgeport, it’s BPT.”
InMade sense to us, he’d been to the Bridgeport facility at least once before. So, with BPT as our destination code, we hustled off to the Aviation Weather Office to get our Dash-1.
The Duty AG Forecaster said, “Up the coast it’s low ceilings; freezing level at 6000 feet. Maguire’s forecast is lousy but should remain above minimums. Deer Park’s still IFR, and Bridgeport (BPT) is forecasting partly cloudy, 20 miles in haze.”
We looked at each other, much like Bill and Ted might have done, saying, “Perfect.” We could almost hear the guitar riff. Confident in our planning, we filed our flight plan, and were in the air in 45 minutes.
At Maguire AFB, we rechecked the weather. BPT still reported partly cloudy and 20 miles vis. There seemed to be a hole covering half of Connecticut! Everything was fine, good IFR training. Soon, we were airborne again. We climbed to 3000 feet and flew to our final checkpoint, Deer Park. I think this is where the phrase “fat, dumb and happy” was coined. Then, the radios crackled.
“Navy GC 630, New York Approach. You are approaching Deer Park. State intentions please.”
“Approach, GC 630, we would like vectors to our destination…from Deer Park to final, Bridgeport/Sikorsky Airport.” Silence beckoned.
“630, OK, now I see it! We were wondering what you were trying to do! You want Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Bridgeport, CT. That identifier is BDR. BPT is BeaumontPort Arthur Texas.”
(Background laughing over the radio) …Then, more silence. It explained a lot.
“Approach, Navy 630, could you give us a descent under the ceiling (1200-1500 feet), with a hand off to BDR - Igor Sikorsky Airport.” “Roger that, turn left to 360, descend to 1500 feet, and report clear of clouds.”
We started our descent and broke out facing Bridgeport.
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 18
We thanked Approach as they handed us to BDR Tower who vectored us to the Sikorsky Helipad about 3.5 miles west of the airport. We landed, put the helo away for the night, and found a warm dry place to thaw out and dry off…and recreate what happened and why we were lucky.
Days later, when we confronted our squadron BPT/BDR colleague, his response was…”it was your flight plan, you should have checked.” True, the lesson learned was: Trust but verify.
NavalHelicopter Association Scholarship Fund
For thirty years, since 1993, over five hundred scholarships and $500K have been awarded to exceptional students. Towards that end, we maintain a sound, growing fund base to incrementally increase the total dollar value of our fifteen annual awards to reach $5000 each: that’s $75k in 2025. Here’s how we do it…
Donate: Our plan uses “Landing Spots” to generate the funds we need to meet the year’s targets and grow into the next year. Every donation is appreciated.
Annually, fifteen scholarships are awarded from a pool of about 60-75 eligible applicants (officer, enlisted, and family members). Our application season goes from 1 Sep to 31 Jan. In February, we empower seven selection boards, one for each of the six regions, and a senior enlisted panel (Graduate, Navy Spouse, Active Duty, Gold Star) to select a slate of awardees and alternates. NHASF forwards the combined, recommended slate to the Board of Directors for approval. Notification is made at the May Symposium and posted in the Summer Issue of Rotor Review.
What next: If we can sustain $5000 scholarships, we may expand the award base to 20 scholarships at $5,000 per award.
Congratulations to our 2022 -
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 20
Jackson Adams Northwestern University NHA Chairman’s Award (NHA)
Lauren Adams Washington University St Louis NHAHS Mark Starr Award
Jaden McDaniel Barnard College USS Midway Foundation
Anderson Loesch University of North Carolina-Wilmington NHA/Dominic Sargiotto
Despina Drosinos Dickenson College Teledyne FLIR Memorial
Timothy Reardon Penn State University Teledyne FLIR
Juliana Bates University of Virginia Raytheon STEM/NHA
Sarah Reilein Auburn University Brandon Hamilton - Magnum 445 Memorial
2023 nHa sCHolarsHip Winners!
Region Four Region Five
Carly Vigeant Arizona State University Night Dipper Legacy CAPT Resavage Memorial
Kathryn Royle Mary Washington University Big Iron Legacy (HM, Heavy HC)
Margot Forti Ross University Veterinary Medicine Ream Family Memorial/NHA
Addison LeGrand Creighton University Leonardo Helicopters US
Judith Ann Dike (Navy Spouse) Grad Student North Carolina State Univeristy USS Midway Foundation
Kenyatta Palmer (Enlisted, E6) Grad Student, American Military University USS Midway Foundation
My Le (Navy Spouse) Grad Student South University Charles Kaman Memorial/NHA
Peter Hoffman (Enlisted, E5) Grad Student Southern New Hampshire University NHA Scholarship
Mekenna Ledbetter (Navy Spouse) Grad Student Brown University NHA Scholarship
and Military Spouse
NavalHelicopter Association Scholarship Fund
Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society
By CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.), President, NHAHS LTM#46 / RW#16213
Wehave a Dedication Date for the SH60F Lassen Medal of Honor Memorial - Friday, 19 January 2024! This will be the 55 Year Anniversary of LT Lassen receiving his Medal of Honor (16 Jan 1969).
It is happening! The CDR Clyde Lassen, USN (Ret.) Medal of Honor Memorial SH60F Helicopter Display Aircraft has been approved. The helicopter is currently on the base and being restored.
Engineering and construction contracts are being solidified along with a whole host of many action items that are taking place to make the Dedication Ceremony a success and we could use your help.
Contract - Sign
Mounting Bracket Design
NAVFAC Endorsement/Approval of Design
Contract - Sign
Start Date/Groundbreaking - 1 Sept 2023 Proposed
Completion Date - 15 Dec 2023
Aircraft Placement - 2- 18 Jan 2023
Dedication Ceremony - 19 Jan 2024
Sand/Prep Airframe for Paint
Install Blank Off Plates for All Openings
Prep Paint Blades
Prep Cabin for Closure
Solar Electric – install to power exhaust fan, and lighting
CNAP/Base PAO’s Plan with NHAHS PAO
POC CAPT Dave Bean, USN (Ret.)
Guest List - 10 Star Holiday Party List, San Diego, Coronado, Crew, Family, Friends, Tenant Commands, NBC, NRSW, etc.
Invite Guest Speaker
ORF - Official Representation Funds Request NBC
Poster Advertising Event - NHAHS to fund, CoC Equipment - Chairs, Podium, Bunting, 50 State Flags (w/heavy bases), Dais
Banner for Stanchion - when completed
SH-60F Move to Flag Circle - to display if completed early Donor Plaque for Stanchion
Campaign Plan - Execute
NHAHS has currently raised $90K. We need your help to make donations and let us know of others who might be interested in supporting this effort. We expect the project to cost $250K. This is not just a project for NAS North Island but a Helicopter Community Project paying tribute to Clyde Lassen and his crew along with all the men and women who work at the Master Helicopter Base. This is a project that should have been accomplished years ago and will be good for the base, helicopter and local communities, Naval Aviation and the Navy. Please consider making a donation. See the adjacent page for making donations.
Keep your turns up! Regards,
CAPT Bill Personius, USN (Ret.) LTM #46 / RW#16213 President
Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society (NHAHS)
https://www.nhahistoricalsociety.org/ PO Box 180578
Coronado, CA 92178-0578
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 22
Restoration Progress - June 2023
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 23 Mail Checks to: Naval Helicopter Association Historical Society, Inc. (NHAHS) (Preferred) NASNI SH-60F Project PO Box 180578 Coronado, CA 92178-0578 Or Donate Online: https://sh60fhoas.navalhelicopterassociation.org/ Computer Rendition of NASNI Stockdale Entrance with SH-60F on a Pedestal
Are We Ready for the Navy’s Sea Change?
By CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.)
Without putting too fine a point on it, the Rotary Wing Community has thrived because forwardthinking professionals have recognized that new initiatives were needed to enable our community to deal with emerging changes in the character of warfare and the rise of peer competitors. This was one of the key themes of our 2023 Symposium as well as one that was addressed in a number of articles in the Spring 2023 Issue of Rotor Review.
Sometimes we see these changes coming and sometimes we miss them. While the purpose of this article isn’t to tally all the changes that have occurred in the Navy in the last several decades, there are three that strike me as major muscle movements: introduction of the first nuclear submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN 571), in 1954, to the first Nimitz-class nuclear aircraft carrier in 1975, and to the first Aegis-class warship, USS Ticonderoga (CG 47), in 1983. These innovative technology changes have kept the Navy at the forefront.
Today, the Navy stands at the precipice of another monumental technology advancement. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, has proposed that tomorrow’s U.S. Navy grow to 500 ships, to include 350 crewed vessels and 150 uncrewed maritime vehicles.
While the composition of the future Navy’s crewed vessels is relatively well understood—based on ships being built and being planned—what those unmanned maritime vehicles will look like, let alone what they will do, has yet to be fully determined. It is important that the Navy do so, as an often skeptical Congress—as it does with any emerging technology—will want the Navy to articulate a concept-ofoperations (CONOPS) for how it intends to use unmanned maritime vehicles in future conflicts.
To this end, the Navy has recently taken several actions to define and accelerate its journey to have unmanned platforms populate the Fleet. These include publishing an Unmanned Campaign Framework, standing up an Unmanned Task Force, establishing Surface Development Squadron One in San Diego and Unmanned Surface Vessel Division One in Port Hueneme, CA, and conducting a large number of exercises, experiments and demonstrations, including the recently completed Integrated Battle Problem 2023.
What does this have to do with our Naval Rotary Wing Community? A great deal. With our future Navy envisioned to be comprised of forty percent unmanned hulls, the Navy has committed to obtaining a number of large uncrewed surface vehicles (LUSVs). These vessels will be between 200 and 300 feet in length and displace 1,000 and 2,000 tons, which would make them the size of a corvette. The Navy’s budget plan funds a total of seven LUSVs over the next five years. The question is: Will rotary wing assets operate from these uncrewed LUSVs and, if so, how will that work? Will MH-60R, MH-60S and/or CMV-22B Ospreys deploy aboard these platforms? Will they use them as lily pads for refueling or for emergency landings when and if needed?
It is worth noting also that the 350 number referenced above is “aspirational.” The Navy currently fields less than 290 ships. Given the high cost of ships, most government agencies (GAO, CRS et al) predict that getting to 350 ships is unlikely in the foreseeable future. What that means is that the Navy will likely have fewer manned ships that can embark rotary wing assets.
This is not something that is on a distant horizon. CNO Gilday has stated that he “wants to begin to deploy large and medium-sized uncrewed vessels as part of carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups in 2027 or 2028, and earlier if I can.” Will we be ready to adapt to this sea change in four or five years?
What I am suggesting is this. Do not wait for our seniors to ask: “How is your Rotary Wing Community going to flex as large uncrewed vessels enter the fleet?” Rather, we should be proactive and suggest how we will do this, just as we were proactive with initiatives such as the Helo Master Plan and its further iterations.
How we adapt to this sea change in the Navy is in our hands. It’s time to get ahead of the power curve. As to how we can do this, those of you wearing flight suits are likely best-qualified to come up with new concepts for how our community can leverage this change and ensure that our community is as vital to naval warfighting tomorrow as it is today.
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 24
View from the Labs
There’s No Rank in the Cockpit – How Aircraft Commanders Should Navigate the Pilot-Aircrewman Relationship
By LT Andrew Calloway, USN
The traditional officer-enlisted relationship takes on a different form in the helicopter. “There’s no rank in the cockpit.” This is a common adage we use in the HSC Community to stress that rank disparity should never interfere with safety of flight. The ability to freely communicate in the aircraft can mean the difference between life and death. What sets the helicopter community apart from others in the Navy is the fact that this crucial pilot-aircrewman communication occurs on a daily basis, even on mundane training or logistics flights. In no other aviation community is the aircraft’s flight regime so directly influenced by the advice of the enlisted aircrew. For example, when conducting ship landings, the pilot relies on aircrew guidance for spot placement above all else. Regardless of the mission, the crew chief is consulted on nearly every decision made in the aircraft.
Because helicopter crews rely so heavily on front-toback communication, a strong bond between pilots and aircrewmen is a necessity. A more cohesive crew is a safer crew. Learning your aircrew’s background can help gauge their tolerance for risk – what drives them to continue a flight or to call it a day. On a recent deployment, I learned that a crew chief in my squadron had been in a brownoutinduced rollover – this certainly helped me understand his risk tolerance. As one might expect after having this near-death experience, he tends to be rather risk averse. I try to keep this in mind when discussing risk factors with him in the aircraft. I remain sensitive to his perspective and experience and attempt to balance his risk aversion with my younger, more risk tolerant outlook. This approach consistently resulted in decision-making that was collaborative and conducive to open discussions on risk mitigation.
Getting to know your aircrew on a deeper level can also affect Crew Resource Management (CRM) in the aircraft in subtle but often crucial ways. Consider this case study: while deployed to 6th Fleet in 2021, my detachment was called on alert in the middle of the night for an urgent Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) off of a DDG in our vicinity. I was the copilot and the aforementioned aircrewman was the Utility Aircrewman (UA). Upon arrival at the DDG, we noticed that it had non-NVD compatible lighting, leaving our entire crew nearly blinded on this pitch black night. I had to take the landing, as my Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC) sitting in the left seat did not have visual references over the flight deck. After requesting several times for the lights to be turned off, we learned that the ship could not oblige. Considering the urgency of the MEDEVAC, we decided to attempt the landing with several mitigations in place. On short final I began to discern the features of the flight deck, but there was still one bright white light in my field of view making it nearly impossible to judge my proximity to the superstructure of the ship. I waved off, informed the crew of the issue, and told
them that I wanted to try again. This time around I would take the approach especially slow and focus almost entirely on their calls from the back, forcing my visual cues to be subordinate to the verbal cues from the crewmen. As I crossed the flight deck, the crew chief called “forward for ten” in a sure and steady voice. My forward visuals were still heavily impaired by the white light within the field of my NVDs. The second crewman called “easy left.” I gave inputs to the aircraft that, from what few visuals I had out of the chin bubble, appeared to take the aircraft forward and slightly left. My UA then called “forward for three, two, one. Stop forward. Stop forward,” with a subtle hint of urgency in his voice. At this point in the deployment, I had conducted dozens of landings with this UA and spent countless hours working alongside him on the ground. I had never experienced him strike a tone that I would describe as “urgent.” I knew, simply by his intonation, that I needed to make an immediate rearward control input – a larger input than I would have made under other circumstances. After a few more corrections, the aircrew were able to talk the aircraft safely down to the deck.
During the debrief, the UA informed me that we had been dangerously close to the hangar of the ship and that my heavy rearward input was critical to prevent us from collision. It was, under the circumstances, a remarkable landing due entirely to the crew chief’s direction and ability to seamlessly convey instructions to the cockpit. Without the strong bond between myself and the crew chief, we would not have been able to safely land the aircraft and therefore would have been forced to abandon our patient. Our reciprocal understanding of one another saved the day and, likely, a Sailor’s life.
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 26
AWS1 Ben Chellew, left, and AWS2 Meriah Romo, assigned to the "Ghost Riders" of HSC 28, conduct a Search and Rescue exercise onboard an MH-60S Sea Hawk. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Austin Ingram.
Over the Horizon
I think most helicopter pilots would concur that some level of familiarity with their aircrewmen results in an overall safer and more effective crew. A question some might disagree over is how close of a relationship is too close? Does a certain level of personal familiarity pose risks in the aircraft and what might these risks be? One could argue that the largest risk of over personalization with aircrewmen is the erosion of rank, respect, and, ultimately, authority in the aircraft. While this may be true in some rare circumstances, it is difficult to imagine, at least in my experience, that any aircrewman would refuse or shirk direction from an aircraft commander based on the nature of their personal or professional relationship. A much more likely risk, I believe, lies in how certain familiarity with the aircrew has the potential to affect a HAC’s decision making.
All pilots want, on some level, the approval of the aircrewmen with whom they fly. No HAC wants to be known as a bad stick, a poor instructor, or an erratic decision-maker. Reputation within your squadron and community at large undoubtedly matters, whether speaking professionally or personally. This innate desire in all pilots to maintain a positive reputation is where I believe the danger lies in forming an excessively close relationship between pilots and aircrew. Overcompensating in an attempt to maintain good standing with aircrewmen can cloud an aircraft commander’s judgment and cause them to make excessively risky or conservative decisions based on how they think the aircrew will react.
Consider another case study. I was tasked to pilot a routine currency flight that required several aircrewmen to perform simulated and live hoisting from various altitudes. We decided to perform the hoisting evolutions over a landing pad not far from the line area and fuel pits. In the interest of maintaining a large power margin in a high hover, I asked the previous HAC not to refuel before turning over the aircraft. I assumed that with the time allotted and fuel onboard, we would be able to complete all the hoisting evolutions with time on the back end to refuel. After completing the hoists required for three out of the five aircrew in the cabin, I noticed it was taking longer than anticipated, and we were quickly approaching NATOPS minimum fuel. The aircrew asked to continue in order to complete the currency requirement for the last two aircrewmen and stressed that they would expedite the evolutions. I obliged and justified my decision by voicing that we were a short taxi away from the fuel pits. About five minutes later while in a HOGE performing a live hoist, we dropped below NATOPS minimum fuel. I finally decided to terminate the exercise and begrudgingly informed the final crewman that there would not be enough time to complete his currency. After cleaning up and taxiing, we arrived at the fuel pits well below minimum fuel – to the extent that my copilot and I were concerned about a possible engine flameout while waiting in line.
Retrospectively assessing this flight, I recognize that being in a HOGE with a live hoister while below minimum fuel was an undue risk considering the low priority of the mission. Would we have experienced a flameout after momentarily dropping below minimum fuel? Probably not. However, NATOPS limits exist for a reason. Would an engine flameout while taxiing have posed a risk to my crew? No, but it could have caused damage to said engine. So why did I continue the hoisting evolutions after I realized that we would likely drop below minimum fuel? I was overcome by a momentary desire to be a get-it-done HAC in the eyes of the aircrew. I had previously deployed with one of the aircrewmen hoisting that day, and I had an excellent rapport with him. I did not want to sully my reputation in his eyes by forcing the aircrewmen to delay fulfilling their currency requirements when – in their words – they were comfortable dropping slightly below minimum fuel to get the job done. I made a risky decision that fortunately did not result in a mishap, but did force me to rethink the way I make decisions as a HAC. It also prompted me to reassess the risks of attempting to maintain a certain persona in front of the aircrewmen.
So, if there are both risks and benefits to forming a tightknit crew, how should aircraft commanders navigate the pilotaircrewman relationship? It is a question that is impossible to answer with a single, sweeping statement; what is important, however, is that aircraft commanders are at the very least thinking about the question. How do your relationships within the aircraft impact your decision making? Are your relationships adding to or detracting from the safety of the crew? If they are detracting, it is time to change your mindset. The pilot-aircrewman relationship is certainly a unique one, and developing it can reap massive benefits. However, the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the crew and mission completion falls onto the aircraft commander. Sometimes this burden requires making unpopular decisions. The best aircrewmen will recognize this weighty responsibility. Consider your inner biases, make smart decisions, and your reputation amongst your flight crew will follow.
HX-21 MH-60R/S Test Team Update to the Fleet
By LCDR Ben “3D” Putbrese, USN, MH-60R/S Test Pilot, HX-21, NAS Patuxent River, MD.
2023 has already been quite a busy year for the MH-60R and MH-60S Test Pilots at HX-21. Operating out of our riverside hangar less than 200 yards from where the scenic Patuxent River flows into the Chesapeake Bay, we’ve been relentless in the active development and ongoing evaluation of a massive range of new systems and software soon to be provided to the Fleet. We know that Naval Air Station Patuxent River can often appear as a black hole to H-60 operators out on the frontlines, so we’d like to take this opportunity to provide an update on some of the major projects currently in work at HX and some of the improvements you can expect to see in your aircraft soon.
System Configuration 20
SC20 is out the door and on its way to Fleet squadrons as we speak. It is intended to answer several Software Trouble Reports (STR) submitted by Fleet operators, with the overall intent of making flying the MH-60 Seahawk safer, and increasing the lethality of the platform by reducing operator workload and minimizing the chance that errors are made throughout the entire detect-to-engage sequence. Much of these changes are due to the major increase in processing power provided by our new Intel Mission Computers, which bring our software up to a modern coding language and will allow for further capability enhancements. Some of the largest changes and additions in SC20 include:
• Addition of a BARALT Decision Height (DH) Tone and Indication, as a backup to the RADALT Decision Height, for added safety during navigational flight
• Ability to link multiple flight plans, for ease of navigation
• Introduction of the Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) Landing Mode, which will automatically transition the Horizontal Situation Indicator (HSI) to Hover Mode as the aircraft decelerates to a hover. In addition, a higher resolution Vertical Speed Indicator (VSI) will be added immediately to the right of the Hover Mode display
• Introduction of a Recommended Ground Speed (RGS) Annunciation to aid the operator in meeting a specified Time on Target (TOT)
• Additional option for the operator to manually enter wind speed and direction
• Introduction of the Ship Cruise Plan, which will allow operators to define ship’s course and speed or Plan of Intended Movement (PIM) using waypoints
• Introduction of the Live Fuel Plan Window, which provides the operator with an alert when a Bingo fuel state has been reached
• Addition of an Attack Fly-To Point (FTP), to aid the operator in arrival at a desired weapons release point
• ARC-210 Multifunction Radio (MFR) Scan Mode, which will allow the operator to scan up to 4 frequencies and dwell on the one actively receiving transmissions
• Radio Transmit/Receive Indicator, which highlights which communications channel is actively receiving transmissions (trust us when we say that this simple but effective indicator is every test pilot’s favorite addition!)
• Finally, the changes that are exclusive to the MH-60R include updated dipping airplans, additional radar pre-mission controls and presets, an increase in the number of Emitters of Interest (EOIs), and additional advisories to increase operator situational awareness of Sonar Cable Angle Hover Status
System Configuration 24
The whole of 2023 will be marked by intensive test of SC24, which is planned to include multiple new capabilities and promises to be one of the most impactful software improvements across the entire Seahawk service life. While much work still needs to be done, and there are many factors which will ultimately determine the final content of the build, planned additions in this software package include:
• Controls and displays for incorporation of the Digital Magnetic Anomaly Detection (DMAD) Subsystem in the MH-60R.
• Incorporation of updated Link 16 terminals with increased data rate and new capabilities
• Advanced communications channels and tactical data links
• An updated Terrain Avoidance Warning System (TAWS II), which will supplement the Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) for increased safety during terrain flight. TAWS II uses DTED to predict if the aircraft flight path will impact terrain, a vertical obstacle database to give warning calls for towers and power lines, and ship flight deck detection and other cues to help protect crews from visual illusions around the boat
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over the Horizon
• Free-draw polygons, which can also be linked to Radar Land Map Repair (LMAP) and tracker/inhibit boxes
• Enhancements and fixes for MH-60R Electronic Support Measures (ESM) capabilities
• Various other Operator System Interface (OSI) updates and fixes to address the STRs submitted by Fleet operators
Another upcoming development for the MH-60R is the Minotaur System, which is a multi-platform sensor data correlation and command/control network. This is in response to a high-priority requirement to better integrate the MH-60R with national strategic assets and coordinate high-level decision making for strike groups and other DoD units. Minotaur began as a U.S. Coast Guard effort to better integrate all airborne and surface assets for the maritime patrol and interdiction mission, and is now being expanded to many other sensor platforms across all forces. The system will correlate Radar/ISAR, ESM, AIS, IFF, and FLIR imagery (and in the future, acoustic sensor returns), and allow this information to be shared amongst all Minotaur users. The Minotaur Kit is currently a Roll On/Roll Off system with a single laptop that connects to the worldwide Minotaur network via existing data pathways. In addition to downlinking the Romeo’s information to the network, the laptop will also provide the crew with enhanced situational awareness and the ability to view current and historical information and imagery shared by all other Minotaur users. The rapid incorporation of Minotaur into the MH-60R is just one example of HX-21 dynamically on-loading and developing a new capability in response to Strike Group priorities.
Fleet Contributions to Test
While we can do a great deal of test and evaluation at Pax River, there are often requirements to gather data and assess new capabilities against live targets, just as these systems will be used operationally, in addition to conducting shipboard test at the locations where the vessels are physically located. To do this, HX-21 often reaches out to Fleet squadrons and modifies aircraft with new systems and capabilities when opportunities to work with exercise partners and other assets become available. Fleet support is especially critical when it comes to Dynamic Interface (DI) ship-air test trials, during which the safe launch and recovery envelopes as well as safe operating parameters for other shipboard evolutions are evaluated and defined. The entire Seahawk Test Team would like to thank the following squadrons for their massive contributions to enhanced MH-60R and MH-60S capabilities, as well as support during DI test trials, that will provide long-lasting impacts to the entire Fleet:
• HSM-35 supported First in Class DI ship-air test trials for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt class destroyer.
• HSC-14 supported DI ship-air test trials for the USNS John Lewis (TAO 205), a new class of replenishment oiler ships, in October 2022.
• HSM-40 and HSM-37 both supported data collection for enhanced capabilities of the APS-153(V)1 MultiMode Radar (MMR) in June 2022 and November 2022, respectively.
• HSC-6 supported DI trials for the USNS Mercy hospital ship in May 2021.
• HSM-71 supported combined test and evaluation of the APS-153(V)1 and DMAD Subsystems against a live target in July 2023—perhaps one of the most impactful and valuable detachments in many years!
Thank you to all for providing your aircraft and supporting the test and evaluation of future capabilities for the entire Seahawk Fleet!
Software Trouble Reports
While the MH-60R/S Test Pilots at HX-21 do our best to identify and correct deficiencies in the helicopter, many fixes are the direct result of Fleet-submitted Software Trouble Reports (STRs). These reports are similar in nature to Airworthiness Requests for Changes to NATOPS or NATIP products, and are regularly reviewed at NAVAIR to inform funding and development decisions. A good STR involves a detailed description of the software or aircraft deficiency, and even more important, a solid assessment of mission impact and the way in which the deficiency prevents or hinders the operator from completing steps of the kill chain. STRs are assigned a Readiness Attribute, which categorizes how the problem detrimentally affects the software’s contribution to mission success (these categories are Flight Safety, Own Survivability, Other Survivability, Operational Availability, and Operational Effectiveness).
When submitting an STR, here are the important items to note:
• STR title should be clear and concise. If another operator isn’t sure what the issue is from the title, then it is likely poorly written.
• The STR Description should answer the following questions:
1. What was the operator doing or trying to do when the deficiency was discovered?
2. Was it a consistent, repeatable problem? Can you identify the conditions which caused the problem?
3. Which SysConfig the aircraft was in (very important)?
Over the Horizon
• Mission Impact Statement: This is typically the most important section of the STR. This should clearly describe how the software deficiency impacted the operator’s ability to complete the mission, and should be stated in terms of what the software did or didn’t do, or what it will do if not corrected.
1. Example of what the software did: 35% of shipboard launches were delayed at least 15 minutes due to the excessive time to troubleshoot the constant false alarm fault lights of a system.
2. Example of what the software will do: The confusing operator interface will result in the wrong target being selected on nearly every engagement, resulting in a high probability of a miss or a fratricide.
STRs can be submitted electronically via e-mail to Geoff “Pappy” Schwenk, the PMA299 Software Support Activity Technician, and he can also be reached via phone at (301) 757-5477. If you’d like to receive an STR submission form, if you’re unsure if your issue has already been submitted, or if you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to Pappy (the “STR Guy”) at any time.
Bottom line: When Fleet operators submit STRs, the people who control money and resources do listen, so submit many and submit often!
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 30
Seahunter: Train to Win
By CAPT Daniel "DMart" Martins, USN
Rotary-wing aviation has always balanced specialization in warfighting and the utility of being the most flexible aircraft in the Navy. A renewed focus on our respective core missions and tactical integration into maritime fights is the surest way the HSM Community can contribute to victory in combat. As Seawolf celebrates the 25th year anniversary of the Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructor Program, another NAWDC Weapons School stands up, building on the rich tactical legacy of Seawolf.
On February 1, 2023, NAWDC divided the Instructor Cadre of the Rotary Wing Weapons School to form a new department. The MH-60R Weapons School, Seahunter, exists to produce Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructors, develop tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), provide subject matter expertise in ASW, SUW, and EW, and train MH-60R pilots and sensor operators, ensuring victory in combat. The exigencies of great power competition have sharpened the Navy’s focus on training and deploying the most lethal maritime force. Throughout the Navy, we must continue to train and fight as a team since no single type, model, series aircraft, surface combatant, or submarine will win the next war alone. Yet, the establishment of Seahunter enables a focused cadre of instructors, a syllabus devoted to the MH-60R's primary mission areas, and TTP development under the leadership of an HSM Skipper.
Seahunter conducts two Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Courses per year while providing subject matter experts and instructors to assist NAWDC’s N5 Strike Department’s Air Wing Fallon (AWF) Training. The SWTI Course and AWF Training give the Seahunter Instructors a unique perspective and opportunity to iterate and test MH-60R TTPs. Every MH-60R Crew must be prepared to operate as a single aircraft, a section, or fully integrated into an Air Wing Strike or Coordinated ASW Mission. Through AWF, feedback from HARPs, and the SWTI Course, instructors then codify these TTPs in the Seahunter Manual through chapter rewrites and Tactical Recommendations (TACRECS).
But how can Seahunter do ASW in the high desert of Nevada? The simple answer is we travel a lot. The SWTI Course events take us to San Diego and Jacksonville, and we make full use of simulators and fly Fleet aircraft in the SWTI Course. Seahunter Instructors also get a chance to fly with Fleet crews and aircraft during proficiency detachments and Air Wing Fallon detachments including unit level training events.
In the time between the courses, Seahunter Instructors qualify as Mountain Flying Instructors to support NAWDC SAR Duty. This weeklong course is the only CNOapproved Mountain Flying Curriculum and is taught and administered by the SEAWOLF Mountain Flying Program Manager. This qualification ensures basic flight proficiency
while training to expertly fly and land in the high-density altitude and mountainous environment of Nevada and Northern California. Seahunter Instructors will complete four Instructor-Under-Training (IUT) Mountain Flying Events following the mountain flying course to gain further proficiency operating the H-60 at high-density altitudes and under power-limited conditions for landing in mountainous terrain. Once instructors are IUT complete, they instruct Mountain Flying events during the SWTI Course and can provide orientation flights to visiting HSM Squadrons during Air Wing Fallon.
On June 29th, Seahunter held the Inaugural Graduation under this new construct. Graduates completed the 10-week course after conducting flights at NAS Fallon, Andros Island, Bahamas, simulators in Jacksonville, Florida, and simulators and flights at NAS North Island, including flights in support of exercise RESOLUTE HUNTER. Held at the World Famous I-Bar, the graduation’s guest speaker was Commodore David “Frosty” Frost, Commander Fleet Air Arm, Royal Australian Navy (RAN). This graduating class had the distinction of graduating the first RAN Aviation Warfare Officer (AvWO), LCDR Jeffrey “Toppo” Topping. Training with the RAN will go a long way to ensuring our closest allies are trained to the latest and relevant TTPs. The graduating class was patched by the graduate’s SWTI Mentor, either active duty or retired, and was welcomed by the community of warfighters at a reception immediately following at the I-BAR.
A tour at NAWDC is hard. The SWTI Course is challenging. A NAWDC Tour and the SWTI Patch are not for everyone. Yet the pilots and aircrewmen who embark upon either professional journey are rewarded with the opportunity to solve the hard problems the Navy faces in future conflict. They get to instruct at the highest tactical level and are expected to maintain complete ownership over their respective tactical expertise. The SWTI is only bound by their imagination, determination, and desire to innovate.
The MH-60R Weapons School, Seahunter, is absolutely looking for those who are up to the challenge!
Seahunter One, LCDR “Toppo” Topping (RAN), CMDRE Frost (RAN) presenting gift for Seahunter Inaugural Class,.
Over the Horizon
Create a Naval Unmanned Aviation Community
By CDR Matt Wright, USN and LT Danny Whitsett, USN
Originally published in Proceedings, May 2022 Proceedings Vol. 148/5/1,431
Inmultiple venues and documents, Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, has made clear his intent regarding unmanned systems in the future Fleet. For example, in his January 2021 Navigation Plan, he writes, “Unmanned platforms play a vital role in our future Fleet. Successfully integrating unmanned platforms—under, on, and above the sea—gives our commanders better options to fight and win in contested spaces.”1 This should refocus naval aviation’s efforts to man, train, and equip its growing fleet of unmanned aerial systems (UASs).
Unfortunately, MQ-8B Fire Scouts deployed onboard littoral combat ships (LCSs)—Naval Aviation’s largest UAS footprint—are being underused in the current composite manned/unmanned unit manning structure. Composite manned/unmanned units look good on paper but introduce operational issues and must be decoupled. Naval Aviation needs a dedicated cadre of unmanned aviators.
The current Fire Scout deployment structure includes one MQ-8, one MH-60S Knighthawk Helicopter, and 25 personnel. This composite aviation detachment (AvDet) is sourced from a stateside squadron, which supports the deployed units and includes a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft to train future detachments. The MH-60S is an established platform, proven both ashore and on every aviation-capable ship in the Fleet since its initial deployment in 2003.2 The MQ-8 does not have quite the same track record, but it does boast more than 17,000 flight hours, successful operational missions, and years of deployments.3 Four composite Fleet Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Squadrons employ the MQ8B/C along with the MH-60S. While the Knighthawk supports a wide array of missions, spanning from personnel recovery to airborne mine countermeasures, the Fire Scout excels as an airborne sensor.
Currently, Naval Aviation is upgrading from the MQ-8B to the MQ-8C Fire Scout variant. The MQ-8C is a completely new airframe and can remain airborne for more than twice as long as the MQ-8B while carrying more than three times the payload.4 Both aircraft employ the Brite Star II Multi-Sensor Imaging System, while the MQ-8C will carry the improved Surface Search AN/ZPY-8 Radar System. The MQ-8C also has available payload capacity for future incorporation of passive sensors, networking capability, and, potentially, antisubmarine warfare (ASW) equipment.
Based on the widely used Bell 407 airframe, the MQ-8C even boasts a massive supply network and a history of aircraft reliability.5 When the MQ-8C successfully completes its developmental and operational flight test, LCS crews will be able to operate the Fire Scout for nearly a third of a day
without having to keep the crew at flight quarters to recover the aircraft to refuel.6
Composite Manning Problems
The current AvDet consists of 4 to 5 officers, 1 chief petty officer, 4 enlisted aircrewmen, and 15 to 16 enlisted maintainers. By comparison, a standard two MH-60S detachment on board other ships would deploy with 35 personnel, but LCS AvDet sizes are strictly limited because of the tight berthing constraints. Therefore, most LCS AvDet personnel must qualify to operate or maintain two completely different aircraft, the MH-60S and the MQ-8. Recent, temporary changes in the wake of multiple Class A MQ-8 mishaps mandate that selected officers fly the MQ-8 exclusively during deployment and revert to MH-60 operations after deployment. Currently, one or two Naval Aviators in each detachment operate the MQ-8 and the remaining pilots fly the MH-60S. This reduces MH-60S operator availability and continues to limit the growth of UAS expertise. Accordingly, the four HSC squadrons that provide these units develop similar pools of officers and enlisted members to operate and maintain the different aircraft.
Many of the mission functions are identical on both platforms, so one might assume that training and experience in the MH-60S directly translate to the MQ-8B/C. For example, a detachment could execute the search phase of an airborne search-and-rescue mission with either the MQ8B/C or the MH-60S. The composite unit also can fly both platforms simultaneously under ideal conditions, sharing the single landing spot on the embarked LCS. Unfortunately, while experience shows the composite structure can work in a limited fashion, it has several drawbacks that call for a significant change to the unmanned deployment model and associated administrative command structure.
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Sailors assigned to the “Sea Knights” of HSC-22, Detachment 5, remove chains from an MQ-8C Fire Scout on USS Milwaukee (LCS 5). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Danielle Baker.
The primary negative impact of the composite deployment structure is the consistent shortchanging of unmanned aviation priorities. When manned and unmanned requirements conflict (as they often do), manned aviation almost always wins. This makes sense—unmanned flight operations do not place the operators’ lives at risk.
However, in the wider Naval Aviation Community, this manned-over-unmanned mentality was evident during the Fiscal Year 2022 Aviation Command Screen Board. The board selected 12 officers to command operational HSC squadrons, including the four composite MH-60S/MQ-8B/C units. Of these future commanding officers, major commanders, and potential flag officers, none had UAS experience. The manned-over-unmanned message was clearly heard by the current cadre of ambitious midgrade Naval Aviators.7 Career incentives for pilots and aircrewmen remain skewed in favor of manned platforms.
A second negative effect of the mixed deployment structure is that it wastes time and money when requiring unmanned operators to complete the same training as pilots and aircrew for manned vehicles. It takes approximately 2.5 years for an MH-60S pilot and one year for an enlisted aircrewman (including Rescue Swimmer School) to reach the Fleet.8 It takes only six months for an Air Force remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) pilot to complete initial training.9 A UAS-only flight training syllabus would cost a fraction of the traditional Naval Aviator training pipeline, mainly because nearly all the instruction could be completed in simulators. Furthermore, the physiological attrition manned aviators succumb to would not apply to unmanned operators. UAS experts are not restricted by airsickness or the need for corrected 20/20 vision.
Finally, deploying two dissimilar aviation platforms ignores an age-old Naval Aviation truth—aircraft break unexpectedly. Composite AvDets leave for deployment with one aircraft of
each type. The “two makes one, and one makes none” aviation aphorism suggests this is not optimal. In addition, as LCSs were built to operate cheaply and independent of the carrier strike group, they often deploy to areas without established logistical support hubs. Replacement parts can take weeks to reach the ship, with the respective aircraft in a down status during the entire waiting period.
An Unmanned Organization
The Navy should stop using the composite AvDet deployment model. Rotary-wing detachments should deploy as exclusively manned or unmanned teams. With more LCS reliability and the addition of the Constellation-class frigates to the Fleet later this decade, these homogenous units could operate in support of each other. One ship could focus on manned aviation, while a neighboring ship on unmanned aviation. Eliminating composite aviation detachments also would negate the need for composite supporting squadrons and wings.
It also would allow Fire Scout squadrons to merge with units supporting the MQ-4 Triton and MQ-25 Stingray—a potential new unmanned aviation wing and nascent unmanned aviation community.10 Despite external appearances, these three aircraft have more in common with each other than with manned type wing aircraft.
Finally, the Navy should develop specific training and career tracks for unmanned aviation. The MQ-25 Program already has initiated an effort in this vein, and both the MQ-8B/C and MQ-4 Programs could follow. With the operators for all three aircraft following unmanned career paths, they could merge into a single talent pool. A pilot could do consecutive tours with Fire Scout, Triton, and Stingray squadrons, with minimal additional training required. The initial officer talent pool for air-vehicle operators could be a mix of directaccession naval unmanned aviators, as currently planned with the MQ-25, lateral-transfer officers from manned aviation,
Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Corie Wooldridge, performs ground turns on an MQ-8C Fire Scout, attached to the “Wildcards” of HSC-23, assigned to USS Jackson (LCS 6). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Langholf.
Over the Horizon
and physiological attrites from flight school.11 Enlisted mission-payload operators could form a healthy pool for a new unmanned aircrewmen rating and similarly move among the platforms from tour to tour.
Naval Aviation also should implement a 1330 Officer Designator to recognize the unique skills associated with unmanned aviation and place all operational unmanned aerial systems under an unmanned aviation wing. These officers would complete aviation preflight indoctrination with their manned aviation peers, have their own flight-school syllabus, and enter the Fleet after receiving unmanned airframe-specific
training. Unlike the MQ-25 Warrant Officer Program, these 1330 Unmanned Aviators would be eligible to command unmanned aviation units. This is essential for successful Navy unmanned programs, as leaders must be grown from within this model.
Coupling a UAS requirement to an already stretched MH60 aviation detachment, squadron, or wing creates unrealistic capability expectations while constraining UAS professional development. The Navy must evolve past the limitations of the composite manned/unmanned construct. Reforming the Navy’s manpower structure to better support unmanned systems will allow Naval Aviation to meet the challenge.
1. U.S. Navy, Chief of Naval Operations Navigation Plan, January 2021, 11.
2. “MH-60S Knighthawk (Seahawk) Multimission Naval Helicopter,” Naval Technology, 14 August 2020.
3. Department of Defense, “MQ-8 Fire Scout Unmanned Aircraft System (MQ-8 Fire Scout), as of FY2021 President’s Budget,” Defense Acquisition Management Information Retrieval, December 2019.
4. Naval Air Systems Command, “MQ-8C Fire Scout,” www.navair.navy.mil/product/mq-8c.
5. Mark Hubner, “Bell 407,” Business Jet Traveler Online, February 2012.
6. Naval Air Systems Command, “MQ-8C Fire Scout.”
7. Naval Personnel Command, “Order Convening the FY-22 Active Aviation Commander Command Screen Board,” 3 March 2021.
8. “Aviation Rescue Swimmer Careers,” Navy.com.
9. Joint Base San Antonio–Randolph Public Affairs, “Air Force RPA Training Pipeline Set to Expand,” 20 August 2015.
10. LT Daniel Whitsett, USN, “The Argument Against Composite Manned-Unmanned Teaming,” Association of Naval Aviation’s Wings of Gold Magazine, Fall 2020; Whitsett, “Making Manned-Unmanned Teaming Work for the Future of Naval Aviation,” Association of Naval Aviation’s Wings of Gold Magazine, Winter 2020.
11. U.S. Navy, NAVADMIN 315/20: “Establishment of the Aerial Vehicle Operator (AVO) Warrant Officer (WO) Community,”
9 December 2021.
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 34
Over the Horizon
A Better Way to Deal with Deadly Sea Mines
By LCDR U.H. (Jack) Rowley, USN (Ret.), SWO/EDO
Afellowretired naval officer shared an article with me that was published in the Spring 2023 Rotor Review, “Rethink Mine Countermeasures – Get Real Get Better Approach,” written by CDR Nick “TRON” Schnettler and LT Charlie “Handy Man” Thomas. It was a great forward-thinking article that addresses one of the Navy’s most vexing challenges – mine-countermeasures (MCM).
As a former naval surface warrior (22 years) who deployed with Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) detachments “back in the day,” I am mindful that while the term LAMPS is no longer in use, as the Navy now fields the highly capable MH-60R and MH-60S, the “multi-purpose” part of that term does describe the myriad of ways that these platforms contribute to the Navy’s warfighting prowess.
While CDR Schnettler and LT Thomas offer a good solution to the MCM challenge, I don’t think it is the best solution. If the MH-60R and MH-60S are engaged in the MCM mission, these aircraft are not able to do any of the wide-variety of missions that these rotary wing platforms are designed to do. Their iterative solution steps only slightly out of the box with the requirement of multiple airborne platforms to execute the MCM mission.
To put it directly – I cannot understand why we are considering an MCM solution set that involves one or two multi-million dollar helicopters and their four-person crews along with a multi-million dollar Fire Scout and its operators as a near and mid-term solution. Or worse, why we are considering the overtasked MH-60S, after expensive modifications, as a long-term MCM solution. There is a better way.
I suggest that the rotary wing community step way outside the box and consider using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment to provide an autonomous, single-sortie, detectto-engage technology to the growing MCM challenge. This is not an aspirational or hypothetical solution, but one that was successfully demonstrated during a recent Commander Pacific Fleet organized and Commander Third Fleet executed Integrated Battle Problem (IBP) held in the SOCAL OPAREA.
While CDR Schnettler and LT Thomas identify some of the challenges of the mine-countermeasures mission, it is worthwhile to provide a bit more background and granularity regarding mine warfare—a centuries-old challenge—as well as the specifics of what we accomplished during IBP with COTS MCM gear and how that is the solution to our MCM problem.
Mine warfare is not new. Precursors to naval mines were first invented in Imperial China. Crude naval mine-like devices were designed by Chinese warlords hundreds of years before the Revolutionary War. They used ox bladders as dry bags and pig intestines as snorkels, as well as crude timed or manual cable fuses.
The first plan for a sea mine in the West was drawn up by Ralph Rabbards, who presented his design to Queen Elizabeth I of England in 1574. However, it was not until the American Revolution that the first successful use of sea mines had its beginnings when a group of break-away colonists, fighting for their independence from the British Crown, had the modern idea of a sea mine with the invention of the Bushnell Keg. Since 1776, mine warfare has been an important element of naval warfare.
The use of mines, and countermeasures to mines, have figured significantly in every major armed conflict and nearly every regional conflict in which the United States has been involved since the Revolutionary War. Mine warfare is an essential warfare capability integral to the ability of naval forces to open and maintain sea lines of communication and to dominate the littoral battlespace.
In the past several decades, rogue states have indiscriminately employed sea mines. Libya used mines to disrupt commerce in the Gulf of Suez and the Bab el Mandeb Strait. Iran laid mines to hazard military and commercial traffic in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. During Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991, the threat of mines precluded the effective use of the Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary task force off the shores of Kuwait and impeded all U.S. and coalition forces operating in the Arabian Gulf. Indeed, Operation Desert Storm highlighted the importance of mine warfare with the near catastrophic damage to USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58), USS Princeton (CG 59), and USS Tripoli (LPH 10).
The worldwide proliferation of mines compounds this challenge. The number of countries with mines, mining assets, mine manufacturing capabilities, and the intention to export
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mines has grown dramatically over the past several decades. Over 50 countries possess mines and mining capabilities.
While many analysts evaluate the ability of the United States to deal with peer adversaries in terms of cutting-edge technologies such as hypersonic missiles, directed energy weapons, fifth- and sixth-generation fighters, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other advances, they overlook the fact that all our adversaries are almost guaranteed to employ mines in any conflict with the United States.
Addressing Today's Mine Warfare Challenge Navy and Marine Corps senior leaders articulate a desire to address the mine countermeasures challenge. However, the services appear to be stuck in neutral as they seek to find an effective solution. The U.S. Navy’s mine countermeasures capabilities have changed minimally, even after decades of aspirational intentions to enhance the Navy’s MCM posture.
Naval professionals are identifying the magnitude of the problem and calling for a near-term solution. Writing for the U.S. Naval Institute Blog, Lieutenant Commander Jon Paris put the challenge this way:
"The U.S. Navy is focused on high-end warfare—engaging anti-ship cruise missiles, defeating hypersonic weapons, protecting the homeland and allies from ballistic missiles, and operating the air wing far from shore in a command-andcontrol degraded environment. We are focused on defeating those we sometimes still call near-peer competitors. Our Fleet’s muscle will not make it to the high-end fight, though, if it fears the deceptively destructive naval mine."
Another naval officer, Lieutenant John Miller, said, in his prize-winning essay in the Naval Institute’s Mine Warfare Essay Contest:
"The U.S. Navy knows that its current adversaries pose a substantial offensive mining threat. Russia, China, and Iran each possess—and too often export—an advanced, robust, and mature offensive mine capability. The U.S. Navy must consider if it has the speed and resources with which to respond to restore freedom of maneuver in the event of sustained mining."
These are just two of a growing number of articles in a wide-range of professional publications that identify this dire challenge growing more difficult as U.S. Navy MCM platforms sundown and emerging capabilities face continued delays. That is precisely why the Navy has orchestrated exercises, experiments, and demonstrations to evaluate the feasibility of fielding a near-term COTS MCM solution.
It is important to recognize that MCM is a now challenge. The danger of naval mines is especially acute in the Middle East. In October 2020, a Maltese-flagged tanker was damaged by a mine while taking on crude oil in the Yemeni port
of Bir Ali. Shortly after this event, a mine in the Red Sea, near Yemen, exploded and damaged a Greek oil tanker. In December 2020, a tanker berthed at the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah was damaged by a mine, with Houthi militia in Yemen linked to this attack. In January 2021, an oil tanker off the coast of Iraq discovered a mine attached to its hull.
A Growing Recognition of the Value of Unmanned Systems for the MCM Mission
The U.S. Navy is accelerating the testing and fielding of unmanned systems. Week-after-week, headlines such as, “Navy, Marines Moving Ahead with Unmanned Vessel Programs,” appear in the defense media. Concurrently, other articles, such as, “When Will the U.S. Navy be Able to Autonomously Seek and Destroy Mines?” emphasize the U.S. Navy’s strong desire to take Sailors out of the minefield.
Recalling the challenges of the Navy’s QH-50 DASH System (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter) as an example, there have been many cases where technologies were inserted as solutions to Fleet or Fleet Marine Forces’ needs only to fail. The U.S. Navy would be well-served to leverage— and combine—technologies that have been examined by commercial and other government agencies. Commercial-offthe-shelf (COTS) hardware and software along with extensive testing in Navy exercises, experiments, and demonstrations should be a priority for Navy and Marine Corps planners to field a near-term MCM capability. The United States does not have the time to wager on emerging technologies that will take years to develop, mature, and field when we are about to have a major gap in our operational capabilities.
While a complete end-to-end technical description of all the details of the solution to the Navy’s MCM challenge is beyond the scope of this article, it is important to emphasize that the
The Mantas T-12 unmanned surface vessel floats in the Pacific Ocean during the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Integrated Battle Problem (IBP) 23.1. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lake Fultz, USN.
Over the Horizon
use by foreign maritime forces. Leveraging these systems will enable our MCM solution to move forward at an accelerated pace and deliver Fleet capability in the near-term. The basic elements of this solution include:
The MARTAC Devil Ray T38 (thirty-eight foot) USV which is similar in size to an eleven-meter RHIB carried by many U.S. Navy ships and thus can be easily integrated aboard most U.S. Navy warships. It is the autonomous platform for the package and hosts a communications and data transmission hub in addition to above water and underwater sensors.
The ThayerMahan Sea Scout Subsea Imaging System which is specifically designed for missions such as mine hunting. The Sea Scout system is founded on the in-production COTS Kraken Robotics Katfish-180 tow-body mounted synthetic aperture sonar. The system is designed to search for mine-like objects (MLOs).
components of this system-of-systems is not simply an idea, but a combination of tested equipment in the operational environment, specifically during a recent IBP.
What We Demonstrated During Integrated Battle Problem
While MCM is a complex mission, it can be broken into three main phases: getting to the minefield, finding the mines, and neutralizing the mines. This is the approach we took during our Integrated Battle Problem evaluation. The leading COTS candidates for this solution were chosen for IBP based on their technical maturity, along with their current
The Pluto Gigas MNS ROV which is an existing, standalone, third-generation mine-neutralization system with several systems deployed globally, and over 3,000 mines destroyed. The Pluto Gigas deploys an acoustically armed and detonated countermine charge. Several charges are loaded onto the T38 to enable single-sortie field clearance.
Leverage USVs to Enable the Rotary Wing Community to Focus On Other Missions
If the U.S. Navy wants to buy-down inherent technical risk and challenge the paradigm of long-cycle FAR acquisition in the deadly serious business of MCM, it is time to put a near-term solution in the hands of U.S. Navy Sailors. While complex programs of record are developing next-generation technology, we should invest in parallel-path solutions that leverage mature subsystems ready to provide “speed to capability” today. Once the Fleet sees the COTS solution that can be delivered with the system described above, we will be well on our way to providing the U.S. Navy with a way to defeat today’s deadly mine threat immediately.
To be clear, this is not a platformspecific solution, but rather a concept. While evolutionary in nature, this disruptive capability delivered using emerging technologies can provide the U.S. Navy with a near-term solution to the deadly mine threat and will keep Sailors and Marines out of the minefield and enable the extraordinarily capable MH-60S to perform the other vital missions for which it is ideally suited.
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The Pluto Gigas MNS ROV. Image courtesy of Italian Navy
Over the Horizon
I Planned for this Years Ago: Making a Precautionary Emergency Landing in Haiti
By LT Garrett Hendrickson, USCG Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, H-60 Standardization Officer
Inearly 2021, I sat down with three instructor pilots at Coast Guard Air Station Elizabeth City, NC, to complete my MH-60T Aircraft Commander Board. This board aimed to test my aircraft knowledge, policy application, and – most significantly – my decision-making. My board members knew I was hoping to be transferred to Air Station Clearwater, FL, so my final scenario placed me in the Caribbean, where Clearwater crews operate year-round at a forward operating base (FOB).
What began as a routine mission near northern Haiti quickly became less routine when they introduced a tail rotor emergency. An intermediate gearbox (IGB) malfunction resulted in a “land as soon as possible” criteria, which calls for “executing a landing at the first site at which a safe landing can be made.” In my mind, that did not preclude Haiti. I discussed how I would lead my crew through the emergency, communicate our situation, coordinate support, and ensure the safety of the aircraft and crew on deck. Satisfied with my answer, one of the board members decided to spice things up. He wanted to know how, or if, I would handle things differently if it were only an intermittent indication of an IGB malfunction. So, I was faced with landing in a foreign country where I didn’t have overflight authorization or flying 60 miles over open water back to the FOB. The complication was determining if I had an actual malfunction or possibly just a faulty sensor. Our flight manual does not provide discretion to treat an intermittent IGB warning differently than a constant one, so choosing to get creative with my landing criteria may be a deviation. Necessary operational deviations to save a human life or for safety of flight are a non-issue in the Coast Guard, and our Air Operations Manual establishes that clearly on the first page. However, it does caveat the allowance by stating, “Such deviation must not be taken lightly and must be tempered by maturity and a complete understanding of the aircraft, mission, and crew.” An intermittent warning does nothing to suggest a faulty sensor or an actual issue with the aircraft, so I did not have a complete understanding of the aircraft. Again, I decided to land in Haiti in this scenario. When the alternative was to fly the aircraft over open water for 30 minutes, with the worst case being an autorotation into the ocean, it wasn’t the most difficult decision. And with that final scenario answered, my board was nearly complete.
Two years later, I found myself happily stationed in Clearwater, flying a routine mission near Haiti out of the Caribbean FOB. Just as we were turning to head back home, my co-pilot announced, “IGB Temperature Caution. Actual.” Heck. We immediately turned the aircraft toward the first site where a safe landing could be made, which was Ile de la Tortue, Haiti, just a few miles south. Shortly after the indication came
on, it was out, and as soon as it went out, it came right back on. We ran through our emergency landing procedures as we approached our landing site – the westernmost part of the island on a rocky plain – and quickly communicated our situation to the station holding our radio guard and a nearby Coast Guard cutter. All this time, the IGB temperature caution flashed on and off at us. Immediate, decisive action was critical to minimize exposure to a malfunction that, as we all knew, could worst-case end with us autorotating into the water. After all, I had planned for this exact scenario years ago.
Fortunately, our landing site had plenty of space for another helicopter to land to bring us repair parts, and I believed it was isolated enough that there wouldn’t be many local inhabitants to come investigate. Immediately after landing, with the caution still flashing on and off at us, we began discussing emergency shutdown procedures. Before we got too far in that discussion, we noticed a few residents had emerged from seemingly nowhere and were approaching the aircraft. Pausing, we realized there was no need to shut the aircraft down, and doing so might actually be disadvantageous. The loud noise and rotor wash we were generating encouraged the curious islanders to keep a safe standoff distance. Moreover, staying running provided us with the drastic option of quickly relocating the aircraft should it become absolutely necessary for the safety of the crew. Although we realized that continuing to run the IGB could worsen any actual malfunction, we decided that if for some reason it was about to disintegrate, some other indications would manifest and we could take appropriate action at that time.
Then, there was the question of fuel. We were toward the end of our patrol when we had to land, and there was no easy way to get fuel to the remote landing zone. We needed enough to fly 60 miles back to the FOB and still land with a safe reserve. Unsure how long it would take for the repair parts to arrive, but still not wanting to shut down for various reasons, we did our best to conserve fuel (save for securing the ECS, which was selfish but important). A common practice to conserve fuel is to start the APU and bring both engines to idle, though that is not exactly the most fuel-efficient method. With two engines at idle and the APU running, the approximate fuel burn in our MH-60T would be 530550 pounds per hour (depending on ECS setting). With one engine at fly, the other at idle, and the APU secured, the approximate fuel burn is 430-450 pounds per hour. While 100 pounds per hour is marginal savings, we considered it necessary given the circumstances. After about 20 minutes of sitting on deck, the local inhabitants lost interest and left, only to return 30 minutes later with a group of about 50 people.
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Although we had no reason to believe that the residents of Tortue would be aggressive toward us, we were cognizant of some realities. In recent years, the volume of irregular maritime migration from Haiti has increased significantly. The number of Haitian migrants interdicted at sea by the U.S. Coast Guard increased 370% from FY 2021 to 2022. With the increased incidence of irregular maritime migration events comes an increase in the enforcement efforts necessary to thwart treacherous voyages that often result in significant loss of life at sea. Between 2021 and 2022, Air Station Clearwater saw a nearly 150% increase in MH-60T hours flown in support of migrant interdiction operations. So, while we often assume the white-hull effect of our helicopter harbors goodwill, we recognized we may be seen more as a foreign enforcement entity and did not abandon our caution. As the excited islanders arrived around the helicopter, they began encircling it, many of them carrying machetes, shouting toward us, and giving us the international finger of not-such-goodwill. I would like to make clear that at no point did any of the onlookers become hostile. They complied with crew hand signals to back away from the aircraft when they got too close, and their machetes were more likely than not tools of their trade rather than aggression. Nevertheless, the situation was uncomfortable and demanded a heightened state of awareness on the part of the crew.
About 90 minutes after we landed, another helicopter from our FOB arrived with the parts necessary to fix our helicopter and a federal agent to provide security during the maintenance evolution. Earlier, we were convinced that if we were to shut down, the local inhabitants would feel motivated to come closer to the aircraft and invade our preferred standoff distance for people with machetes. When I first started flying the Migrant Interdiction Operations Mission, I carried selfprotect capabilities on every mission near Haiti for this very scenario. After flying the mission for a while, comfort and complacency on my end led to me no longer require my aircrew to load weapons on the aircraft before a Haiti mission. Needless to say, this incident has motivated me to return to my old ways. Regardless, the aircrew did a phenomenal job fixing the aircraft in a field on an island in Haiti with dozens of less-than-welcoming onlookers. Just 2.5 hours after we had the malfunction, we were taking off in a healthy airplane to fly back to the FOB. Once we arrived back at the FOB, it was confirmed that the IGB Sensor was faulty. Nevertheless, I still think landing in Haiti was the most appropriate course of action.
This adventure presented many salient lessons to be learned. First, the importance of wargaming with challenging scenarios. Think about things in depth when you have the luxury of time to consider the applicable publications and policy because when it’s game time, you likely won’t have that luxury. This
also demands that you know your aircraft well – you likely won’t be able to search in your flight manual if constant versus intermittent indications make a difference while you’re getting into an autorotative profile over the ocean. Second, take seriously the challenges posed to you in the pilot development process. We all know who the hammers are at the unit and probably have a distaste for some of the questions they ask. However, you never know when those questions will help prepare you for something yet unknown. Lastly, be cautious of complacency. As an instructor pilot and flight examiner now myself, I like to think I guard against complacency fairly well, but it can rear its ugly head in a lot of different ways. In this instance, it looked like me not having full self-protection capabilities as 50 curious Haitians with machetes surrounded the helicopter.
All things considered, I would say this incident was an impressive display of the coordinating mechanisms that can occur when we activate them. We had a second helicopter on scene with parts and security about 90 minutes after we landed. We were in a fixed helicopter flying home just 60 minutes later. I can’t overstate my immense pride in being part of a team that operated this well in “crisis mode.” More importantly, I can’t overstate how impressed and thankful I am to the outstanding crews that performed so well that day – whether they were my crew, in a different asset, behind the scenes, or with our partner agencies.
The Haiti scenario on my Aircraft Commander Board ended with a slightly humorous twist. One of the board members challenged me by saying that after my safe emergency landing, I was taken into custody by Haitian authorities, and he wanted to know how I would handle that situation. Fortunately, that’s the only part of the scenario that didn’t actually manifest. But if it had, I also planned for that years ago.
Two Clearwater H-60s. Photo taken by the author.
Over the Horizon
Tiltrotor in the Changing Context of Pacific Defense and Deterrence
By Robbin Laird
According to a 2012 Congressional Research Service Report: “In the fall of 2011, the Obama Administration issued a series of announcements indicating that the United States would be expanding and intensifying its already significant role in the Asia- Pacific, particularly in the southern part of the region. The fundamental goal underpinning the shift is to devote more effort to influencing the development of the Asia-Pacific’s norms and rules, particularly as China emerges as an ever-more influential regional power.”
But given the continued deep involvement in Middle Eastern land wars, and the stringent defense budgets, how was this going to occur? Part of the answer was provided by new military systems coming to the Pacific, the most notable in the past decade were the coming of a coalition of F-35s and the arrival of the Osprey.
What the Osprey brought to the effort was a unique capability in terms of speed and range and landing flexibility to cover areas of interest for the U.S. military in terms of the insertion of force and supplies.
A 2013 interview I did with the sitting MARFORPAC, LtGen Robling, he underscored why the Osprey was so critical to what the Marines were tasked to do. “Speed, range, and presence are crucial to the kind of operations we participate in throughout the Pacific. The Osprey clearly fits perfectly into the types of missions we are tasked to perform."
“To illustrate hypothetically, if we were tasked to counter challenges in the South China Sea, such as to bolster defense of Ayungin Shoal, also known internationally as Second Thomas Reef with one of our treaty Allies, the Philippines, the U.S. has several options, but not all are efficient or even timely. We could use USAF assets, such as B-2 Bombers or B-52 Aircraft from Guam, or Navy surface or subsurface assets that are patrolling in the South China Sea, but the location of those assets may not provide timely arrival on station."
“But using the Osprey, we can fly down quickly from Okinawa with a platoon of well-trained Marines or SOF, land on difficult terrain or shipping, and perform whatever tasks that may be required in not only a timely but efficient manner.”
LtGen Robling noted the unique qualities provided by tiltrotor and the need, in his view, for broader acquisition of this capability. “Our Allies and others look at what we can do with the Osprey and are impressed. We do not have the strategic lift required to move all my forces around the AOR. Until I can get them, I am required to use C-17s that are very expensive and committed elsewhere or amphibious shipping that there is not enough of, or I contract black bottom shipping, the cost of which has nearly tripled in the last five years.
“To compensate, I can use KC-130 Aircraft or V-22s and move small numbers of lethal Marines thousands of miles. Is this efficient? No! Is this effective? Yes! Nobody else has the capability afforded by the V-22 except our USAF SOF Forces.”
Eventually, [our] Allies got the point or at least the Japanese did. And now the U.S. Army has gotten the point and is procuring the V-280 variant of tiltrotor aircraft.
The Marines at the time were pursuing a distributed laydown strategy. This strategy requires “an ability to operate from multiple locations allowing the Marines to broaden their opportunities and shape more meaningful partnership opportunities.”
Clearly for the Marines, the Osprey is an indispensable capability. But now the entire joint force and several coalition partners are working to shape a distributed force approach.
As John Conway, the noted Australian strategist put it: “We’ve now got an adversary, who is making us spend more and more money on survivability. We’d rather spend money on lethality, but they’re making us spend money on survivability because they’re becoming increasingly sophisticated, and it’s becoming harder and harder to survive. And this is driving up the cost of survivability.”
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Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling is interviewed by Al Jazeera News in front of the MV-22B Osprey Static Display February 12, 2023, at the Changi Exhibition Center in Singapore. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Capt. Caleb D. Eames, USMC.
For the U.S. Navy, the force distribution effort is labeled distributed maritime operations (DMO). For the USAF, it is labeled agile combat employment (ACE). Such shifts drive up the demand signal for tiltrotor aircraft.
For the Navy, this is evidenced by the acquisition of the CMV-22B. In an interview I did earlier this year with Vice Admiral Whitesell, the U.S. Navy Air Boss, he underscored that the shift to distributed maritime operations was a work in progress. As he noted: “We are in an experimentation phase. We are working force distribution and integration. We are experimenting like Nimitz did in the inter-war years. We are working from seabed to space with regard to force integration. It is a work in progress but being successful operating in an environment where logistics are contested, where getting weapons to the Fleet in conflict, is not just a nice to have capability — it’s a necessary one.”
What Vice Admiral Whitesell was referring to in terms of contested logistics was the expanded role for the CMV-22B from being a one-for-one legacy replacement for the carrieronboard-delivery (COD) mission for large deck aircraft carriers to becoming a distributed maritime Fleet operations asset.
The Osprey provides an important stimulant for the shift in Concept of Operations (CONOPS) whereby the Navy‘s experimentation with distributed operations intersects with the U.S. Air Force’s approach to agile combat employment and the Marine Corps’ renewed interest in Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO).
In other words, the reshaping of joint and coalition maritime combat operations is underway which focuses upon distributed task forces capable of delivering enhanced lethality and survivability.
The shift to a more distributed force is a strategic one. It will drive not only CONOPS but also force development in the near to mid-term. What generally has not been realized is that concept of operations changes are strategic in character and will require significant changes in platform and payload acquisition in the future, new logistical support capabilities, new approaches to sustainment, supply locations and “basing,” as well as fully embracing the autonomous systems revolution to add the expendable, numerous and much less costly platform/payload combination.
• How do you take the CONOPS revolution underway and shape the resulting force into a more enduring one?
• How do you supply such a force?
• With what do you supply it?
• How do you build cross-national production and distribution for the disparate national capabilities and forces?
The thinking from the operational forces needs to drive force design and force development, rather than think tanks and acquisition officials remote from the operating forces.
As payloads change – new weapons, new sensors, new approaches to cloaking forces, new ways to disrupt the adversary’s society and dominate their decision cycles – rapid acquisition is required.
How rapidly can the acquisition system and its slow-paced process of development be put aside to do so. The changes occurring in Pacific operations are dramatic; the recognition of the impacts of these changes has not been. The Osprey came as the pivot to the Pacific began. Now tiltrotor is key to enabling capability for the strategic shift to force distribution and payload dynamic innovations. Force distribution is enabled by the speed and range of the tiltrotor aircraft’s ability to land on a wide variety of locations.
The flexibility of the aircraft to carry a wide variety of payloads makes it a centerpiece of the CONOPS revolution under way. The flexibility which the Osprey provides – with the USMC, the U.S. Navy and the USAF operating the aircraft – opens the aperture significantly on how one configures the aircraft to deliver what payload in which situation for which combat and deterrent effect.
Colonel Marvel, the CO of MAG-39, located at Camp Pendleton, underscored in an interview I did with him in February 2023 that “the Osprey provides unique speed and range combinations with an aircraft that can land vertically. It is a very flexible aircraft which could be described as a missionkitable aircraft. The Osprey has a big hollow space in the rear of the aircraft that can hold a variety of mission kits depending on the mission which you want the aircraft to support.”
He emphasized that with a variety of roll-on, roll-off capabilities consisting of different payloads, “We can add the specialists in the use of a particular payload along with the payload itself to operate that payload, whether kinetic or nonkinetic, whether it is a passive or active sensor payload. We need to stop thinking about having to put the command of such payloads under the glass in the cockpit, and control those payloads with a tablet.”
Col. Marvel underscored that the Marines when deployed are engaged in presence missions. How then best to use their presence to deliver the desired effect? And given the Marines are operating across the spectrum of warfare, and that spectrum itself is changing, which payloads are most relevant to the mission? This means that “we need to maximize the payload utility of our platforms.”
Over the Horizon
He provided a number of examples of different payloads which they are working with from USVs to a variety of passive and active sensors. Kill webs need to be sustained and Ospreys can provide both fuel and ordinance to platforms throughout the extended battlespace. For example, Ospreys can bring fuel and ordinance to a FARP (forward arming and refueling point) and support P-8 operations, for example. Ospreys can palletize torpedoes and engage them in the battlespace. They can provide key parts for the network of sensors that make a distributed forces’ domain C2 and fire control picture. With the proper payload, Ospreys can maintain contact with surface and subsurface forces to help build a common tactical operating picture.
But this is just the beginning.
With the innovations already underway with USVs, one can credibly envision an Osprey landing at an austere location with payloads for the USVs. The USVs then arrive at the austere location, and then join aircraft operating together in that location for the desired time.
With the U.S. Army acquiring the V-280, there are clearly expanding opportunities for enhancing force distribution. With the Army’s many working relationships with core Allies in the region, the tiltrotor force could expand exponentially along with the capabilities to operate a distributed force. And when one integrates the tiltrotor with the autonomous revolution, there is a capabilities dynamic which can redefine what the multi-domain force can achieve.
It began as a pivot in the Pacific. Now it is becoming a CONOPS revolution.
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U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey, assigned to the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) Bravo Command Element conducts flight operations in Bardufoss, Norway, August. 7, 2023. The USS Mesa Verde (LPD-19), assigned to the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), under the command and control of Task Force 61/2, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S. Ally and partner interests. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Aziza Kamuhanda.
Over the Horizon
Power Competition, Deterrence and Projection: Navy Future Vertical Lift (FVL) in the Pacific
By CAPT Chris Misner, USN (Ret.), Senior Manager, Bell Military Sales & Strategy and Mr. Carl Forsling, Senior Manager in Advanced Vertical Lift Systems Sales and Strategy
TheUnited States faces many global challenges, but the existential threat posed by a “Great Power Competition” is playing out before us and will remain relevant for decades. Our competitors seek to broaden their economic, territorial, and regional influence using all the tools of national power at their disposal –noticeably through increasing investment in military capability. This activity is particularly noticeable in the Indo-Pacific area of responsibility (AOR) where military and diplomatic power projection typically occurs at the expense of America's strategic Allies. We are at an inflection point in the security postures of many countries throughout the region. For the U.S. and its Allies, there is broad consensus that modernization is needed to keep up with the current pacing threat. For the U.S. Navy in particular, those efforts must address the challenges of this competitive era by ensuring the military capability and industrial capacity is in place to deter threats and project strength globally.
U.S. and Allied Naval Strategy must effectively respond to any challenges that threaten regional stability and the international maritime environment. As our competitors continue to seek an advantage in their immediate spheres of influence, successful deterrence requires military capabilities that operate across multiple domains while enabling economic, technological, informational, and diplomatic solutions short of actual conflict. One essential element of an effective naval strategy is the ability to leverage tiltrotor technology to our advantage. With the U.S. Navy already in possession of the CMV-22 Osprey, the acquisition of Future Vertical Lift (FVL) tiltrotor platforms that are manned, unmanned, and optionally manned will play a key future role in deterring potential adversaries and projecting power across the Pacific.
If you consider the daily shipping traffic in the Western Pacific for example, a major vulnerability is that potential adversaries could attempt to disrupt Sea Lines of Communication (SLOC) throughout the region. Tiltrotor aircraft such as the V-22 can provide the range, speed, and loiter time required to contribute to the protection of these vital choke points in ways that far exceed the capabilities of traditional rotary wing aircraft. The added
advantage of runway independence makes these aircraft even more operationally relevant given the geography of the region. Today, the MV-22, the CV-22, and the CMV-22 are critical warfighting enablers in the region supporting the needs of the U.S. and Japanese Military. A modernized and sustainable V-22 is a key component to ensuring the flexibility and agility needed to address future conflict worldwide. V-22 aircraft have logged over 700,000 flight hours and the U.S. Navy is leading the way in developing an understanding of the enhanced capability the CMV-22 brings to the Carrier Airwing. In the short term, Navy leadership is working to determine if they have the proper CMV force structure in place to support a distributed force in a contested environment.
In the meantime, we must continue to seek the modern technology required to preserve freedom of navigation, deter aggression, and, if required, win a future fight. A modular open systems approach to the architecture, coupled with a solid model-based systems engineering foundation, will facilitate a rapid and affordable iteration of these overmatch capabilities.
As we look to the future of tiltrotor technology, the Navy will be able to leverage the experience gained through decades of V-22 operations. Future vertical lift tiltrotor variants will undoubtedly incorporate those lessons as well as the teaming of manned and unmanned systems in ways previously thought to be impossible. One thing is clear: if we are going to act differently when it comes to how we fight a potential wellarmed, well-trained adversary - we need to think differently and equip ourselves differently.
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Bell V-247 Vigilant
To make the cost affordable to the American taxpayer, the services will have to tackle warfighting functions jointly and leverage multi-service development opportunities jointly. For example, the basic Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) design includes a modular open systems approach (MOSA) to the architecture with a solid model-based systems engineering (MBSE) foundation, as well as step change improvements in affordability and sustainability core characteristics.
As the Navy reviews the Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) for its Maritime Strike Program, it will become clear that the Bell V-247 Vigilant unmanned aerial system (UAS) and a marinized variant of the Army’s FLRAA will offer very attractive solutions to ensure the U.S. Navy is relevant, dominant, and fully prepared to deter any potential adversary. A similar calculus applies to the Marine Corps as it builds its VTOL Family of Systems; a V-247 and FLRAA could provide long-awaited tiltrotor speed and range to the attack/utility and MAGTF Unmanned Aerial System Expeditionary and Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MUX-MALE) Mission Sets.
These aircraft could provide commanders with precision strike and targeting, medical evacuation, combat search and rescue, personnel recovery, anti-surface, and anti-submarine warfare capabilities that would be unmatched by traditional rotary wing aircraft. These advanced tiltrotor aircraft provide critical overmatch capabilities and operational agility at affordable program lifecycle costs and low maintenance and support burdens in theater.
Force Design 2030 and our National Maritime Strategy highlight the Marine Corps’ and Navy’s need to conduct expeditionary advanced base and distributed maritime operations. The Indo-Pacific poses the greatest challenge to our nation’s naval forces and will be the barometer used to determine where and how advanced weapons systems will be needed and used to meet the challenges of the current pacing threat. Reach, flexibility, interoperability, and survivability are just some of the requirements for operational success in the Pacific and each of these operational traits are inherent in the capabilities only tiltrotor technology can provide.
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 47 www.navalhelicopterassn.org Save the Dates! Naval Helicopter Association (NHA) Symposium May15-17, 2024 May14-16, 2025 Harrah’s Resort Southern California Owned by the Rincon Tribe 777 Harrah’s Rincon Way Funner, CA 92082 (760) 751-3100
The Role, Culture and Importance of the Rotary Wing Community Today and Tomorrow
From Naval Aviation Enterprise Communications Team
TheNaval Helicopter Association (NHA) hosted its Annual Symposium May 17-19, 2023, during which members of the rotary wing and tiltrotor communities, from senior leadership down through the ranks, discussed the current state and path ahead for their missions.
The event culminated with a Flag Officer Panel on Friday afternoon, during which senior leaders engaged in a discussion with the audience, fielding questions across a range of issues such as potential future conflicts, funding, career paths and what lies ahead for the NHA Community. Panelists were: Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development (N7), VADM Jeffrey Hughes; Military Deputy Commander, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), VADM Alvin Holsey; President of the U.S. Naval War College, RADM Shoshana Chatfield; Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Budget/Director, Fiscal Management Division (N82), RADM John Gumbleton; Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command, RADM Michael Steffen; and Commander, Navy Personnel Command/Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel, RADM Wayne Baze.
“What are the missions and functions this community brings to the table?” VADM Hughes asked. “Right now we have to be thinking about the missions we need to do, then think about how to best organize, train and equip to support the future operational concepts necessary to meet our strategic objectives.”
The senior leaders also discussed finding advantages through various means and disciplines.
“Decision advantage, the quality and speed of our decisionmaking, will be paramount to future operational success,” VADM Hughes said. “We must integrate and achieve advantages in the information, cyber and space domains to achieve the necessary operational outcomes.”
VADM Holsey, speaking from his perspective at a geographic combatant command (COCOM), stated, “We can’t get enough planners and strategists … everything at the COCOM comes down to them.”
He emphasized that events in the SOUTHCOM area of responsibility are in America’s neighborhood. “We need to look at this fight globally,” he emphasized.
Earlier in the day, Commander, Carrier Strike Group Three, RDML Kevin Lenox, delivered a keynote address.
“I really appreciate the energy that all of you bring to meeting the challenges inherent in the Pacific high-end fight,” RDML Lenox said. “NHA provides a unique opportunity to hear from the helicopter community and get the unfiltered vision from the men and women wearing flight suits and the capabilities you bring. Naval Rotary Wing Aviation isn’t going anywhere. From my seat as a Strike Group Commander, it is clear that you all have a key role to play, both in deterring conflict and winning, if we must fight."
Among other notable events, the Symposium also featured a panel event with Commodores, Deputy Commodores, a Carrier Air Wing Commander and a Marine Aircraft Group Commander. Here again, discussions ranged depending on questions from the audience. One theme that emerged was the partnership between Marine Corps and Navy Aviation— collectively they make up Naval Aviation.
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From left, RADM Michael J. Steffen, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command; RADM John Gumbleton, Director, Fiscal Management Division, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations; VADM Alvin Holsey, Military Deputy Commander, U.S. Southern Command; VADM Jeffrey Hughes, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development; RADM Shoshana Chatfield, President, Naval War College; and RADM Wayne Baze, Commander, Navy Personnel Command; participate in the Flag Panel during the 2023 Symposium. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Keenan Daniels.
“The Blue-Green integration … that needs to keep happening,” Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, CAPT Edward Weiler said.
The Commanding Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 39, Col. Nathan Marvel, stated, “We’re all going to be in the fight.”
Speeches and panels did not comprise the entire agenda for the Symposium. Commander, Naval Air Forces, VADM Kenneth Whitesell, commonly referred to as the Navy’s “Air Boss,” had a meeting with Junior Officers (Ensigns through Lieutenants). The officers had a chance to hear about the senior leader’s view of their
communities and operations, and to speak candidly with him about their experiences, ideas and concerns.
The Symposium also offered multiple chances for professional development, including meetings with detailers, opportunities for the government to build relationships with their private-sector partners and a breakfast event highlighting 50 Years of Women Fying in Naval Aviation.
The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) is a collaborative warfighting partnership, wherein Naval Aviation leaders leverage their assigned authorities, to deliberate and resolve interdependent issues across the whole of Naval Aviation to provide combat-ready Naval Air Forces to the Fleet at the best possible cost.
Radio Check - Symposium 2023
If you were at Symposium, what was the most impactful event at NHA Symposium and why?
Three Takeaways from NHA Symposium 2023
By VADM Dean Peters, USN (Ret.)
1. Pride. The Legends Panel gave me a renewed sense of our shared DNA and place in Naval Aviation history. There is something special about the crew concept, the flexibility and adaptability of our tactics and missions (including saving lives), and how truly fun it is to be part of the Rotary Wing Community!
2. Wow factor. Holding the Annual Awards Ceremony in the general forum was a great move and changed the whole vibe of the event. The energy levels were off-the-chart as everyone got to participate in the recognition of their friends and squadron mates.
3. Humbled. The Breakfast honoring 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation was the most impactful event for me personally. CAPT Joellen Oslund’s story is one we all need to know. I was struck by how positive and optimistic she was about her experience. It revealed the underlying foundation for her success and provided a template for future generations. Thank you, Joellen!
Past Legends Panel - Advice for the Future
By CAPT Sandy Clark, USN (Ret.)
WhenI hear someone say in their most conspiratorial voice, “This is no Sh—,” my ears perk up. I know that I’m about to hear a (mostly) true story about a hairy landing on a pitching deck out of limits, a black night rescue in heavy seas, or an unplanned, sphincter-tightening, close encounter with the water where the crew escaped with their lives, if not 100 percent of their self-respect.
During the 2023 Symposium, NHA attendees were treated to the rare opportunity to hear from nine storytellers on the “Past Legends” Panel - whose career exploits were nothing less than mythical. These community pioneers, who earned their wings in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, recounted their eye-watering experiences to an audience of mostly active-duty aviators whose parents were probably younger than the presenters.
Representing both pilots and aircrew, these were the brave men and women who broke ground for the rest of us, boldly leading, making the rules as they went, and informing today’s operating environment. Those were the “Wild West” days, well before many of today’s guardrails were established and rulebooks were written (sometimes in blood).
In order of appearance, these were the trailblazers who regaled us with their stories on the Past Legends Panel:
CAPT Gene Pellerin, USN (Ret.) received his wings in 1959, flew 10 different models of helicopters in his career from the H-19 to the SH-3A - from the decks of Ice Breakers in Antarctica to Carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin to Huey Gunships in Vietnam. He commanded HS-6 and flew recovery missions for the Apollo-Soyuz Astronauts.
CAPT Mike Reber, USN (Ret.) earned his wings in 1963 and began his career flying an array of aircraft, including the newly introduced H-46, in Lakehurst NJ. He literally wrote the book on VERTREP operations (beginning with the H-46 NATOPS), took that new aircraft to the Paris Air Show, conducted the first operational night VERTREPs in the Gulf of Tonkin, and commanded HC-11. Later, he was Assistant Air Boss on USS Okinawa for the evacuation of Saigon in 1975.
CDR Dick Barr, USN (Ret.) pinned on his wings in 1968 and immediately went to Vietnam, where he flew H-1 gunships with HAL-3. He was shot down, wounded, hospitalized for months, and valiantly returned to the war for an unprecedented second tour. CDR Barr commanded HC-1 and retired after serving as Air Boss on USS Tarawa.
MAJ Barry Waluda, USAR (Ret.) served as CDR Barr’s Aircrew Chief, door gunner and Jet Mechanic in HAL3. After an historic and heroic rescue during which Barry earned the Navy Cross, Barry returned to the States and left the Navy, only to re-join the US Army Reserves, where he earned his commission and served until he retired in 2003.
CAPT Jim Daniels, USN (Ret.) began his 37-year career as an Enlisted Aircrewman/Rescue Swimmer and AW serving with HS-4 and HC-1, during which he completed multiple rescues and recoveries before transitioning to the new SH60B in HSL-45. Rising quickly through the ranks, he became an AW Chief before selecting for the Aviation Ops LDO Program, where he mastered every challenge, promoted to Captain and retired in 2013 as Commanding Officer of NATTC Pensacola.
CAPT Joellen Drag-Oslund, USNR (Ret.) was the Navy’s first woman Helicopter Pilot. Breaking new ground from the moment she received her wings in 1974, she was the first woman assigned to flying duty aboard a Navy ship, the first woman Combat SAR HAC, and was inducted into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame after completing 25 years of Active and Reserve Duty. Today, there are 450 women pilots in the Navy, of whom 44 percent are in the Rotary Force. They are all beneficiaries of CAPT Oslund’s ground-breaking accomplishments in the early 1970s.
CAPT Larrie Cable, USN (Ret.), earned his wings in 1975 and served a tour flying the SH-2F before becoming a Navy Test Pilot, conducting early developmental testing of the newly minted SH-60B at NAS Patuxent River. Following a command tour in HSL-42, he returned to the NAVAIR Community where he spearheaded the upgrade work on the Seahawk, which morphed into procurement of the highly versatile MH-60R/S, so prevalent in the Fleet today.
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CAPT George Galdorisi, USN (Ret.), is undoubtedly one of the Naval Helicopter Community’s most prolific and dynamic writers and well-known thinkers. He flew two versions of the SH-2 before transitioning to the SH-60B as part of the initial cadre of the fledgling HSL-41, developing new procedures and tactics, creating the environment that led to the success of the LAMPS MK III Aviation System. Following his command tour at HSL-43, CAPT Galdorisi stayed operational in the Pacific Fleet, enjoying four successful command tours including two aviation squadrons, USS Cleveland, and Amphibious Squadron 7.
CAPT Mike O’Connor, USN (Ret.) was a leader in every warfare specialty the Naval Helicopter Community offered during his 30 years of Naval Service. After receiving his wings in 1964, his career included flying at least 17 different model/series aircraft from the decks of ships of the Atlantic and Pacific Fleet in addition to a challenging combat tour in Viet Nam with HAL-3. A highly decorated combat veteran, CAPT O’Connor had 6 commands including being the first CO of HSL-41.
Merely stipulating that each of the ‘Legends’ enjoyed successful careers and that they shared their interesting accounts does not do them or the NHA’s Past Legends Panel justice. Their stories were, and are, riveting.
But there’s much more. These were the men and women who, through their courage, leadership, and dedication in the early years created the very successful culture that today’s helicopter community enjoys. They pressed ahead during challenging times, when the community was always underfunded and largely underappreciated by other elements of Naval Aviation.
Whether out of necessity or deliberate action, "Legends" embodied winning characteristics in leadership and mentorship, creating warfare excellence from the margins, against all odds.
Here’s how they did it:
They were flexible and creative. In the early days of the 50s and 60s, pilots and aircrew of the fledgling helicopter community were literally on their own, frequently left to their own devices, ingenuity, and career choices. There were no set career paths to follow, especially since many early leaders were transplants from fixed wing communities. There were no predecessor superstars, no mentors, no flag officers to guide them or pull them along. Yet, they were as unafraid to try new career assignments as they were to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
They were open to change. They had to be! Early Rotary Wing machines were unpredictable, unreliable, underpowered, and downright scary. Yet, paradoxically, the allure of going where their fixed wing brethren couldn’t venture inspired new, unimagined, capabilities. New missions were born and evolved. Flight envelopes were expanded (and sometimes contracted). All were created from fertile imaginations and from within the ranks of the operators themselves.
Teamwork was (and is) everything. Borne of a necessity to operate independently in a tactical environment, helicopter pioneers achieved independence and expertise through the power of collective intentionality. Sharing in their successes as well as their failures, they created the unbreakable bonds of brotherhood (and later sisterhood) through the shared belief in who they were and what they would become.
The role that these Legends (and others) played in creating our community’s winning culture can’t be overstated. They created the environment and built the path on which we now tread. And for that we offer our admiration and gratitude!
If you missed the Legends Panel or want to see it again, visit the NHA Facebook Page and click on Videos https://www.facebook.com/navalhelicopterassn/videos.
Forging Legends: Triumph and Unity at the NHA Aircrew Challenge
By AWR1 Ronald "Scrappy" Pierpoint USN
Bragging rights, camaraderie, pride, and good oldfashioned fun. These words encapsulate what participating in the Annual NHA Aircrew Challenge feels like. In an awe-inspiring display of teamwork and fortitude throughout the Aircrew Challenge, 22 teams of extraordinary individuals, encompassing aircrewmen, pilots, and maintainers, embarked on an arduous journey of physical competition. Their spirits ignited as they forged ahead in a grueling race, challenging the very limits of their endurance and camaraderie.
From battling the ruthless current in a daunting lazy-river swim to conquering a rigorous 1-mile ruck run, the challenges seemed insurmountable. Undeterred, these teams of men and women pushed themselves further, dominating 150 pull-ups with unwavering determination. As the adrenaline surged through their veins, they did over 100 burpee-over-barricades.
It was not merely the individual feats that defined this competition; each team's collective will emerged through the team-oriented tasks.
Together they carried the weight of the litter - a symbol of their unity and unwavering support for one another. As the finish line beckoned, they took off on a harmonious team rope sprint, their synchronized strides resonating with the sheer essence of triumph.
In the face of history and tradition, a commanding force emerged. Surpassing all expectations, HSM-41's command seized 1st and 2nd place, leaving an indelible mark on the records of the NHA Aircrew Challenge. HSM-74 claimed a well-deserved 3rd place, showcasing the prowess of both their aircrews and dedicated maintainers. It was a resounding sweep by the HSM Community.
In this epic physical competition, the true essence of inspiration was etched in every stride, every pull, and every leap. Barriers and limits were shattered, and a legacy of determination and teamwork was born in their wake. These remarkable individuals remind us that when unified in purpose and passion, there is no challenge too great and no victory beyond reach. They embody the spirit of human potential and stand as a testament to the heights we can achieve when we dare to dream, push boundaries, and never surrender.
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1st Place: HSM-41 "Hawaiian Haoles:" : AWR1 Cowell, AWR1 Plummer, AWR1 Fraley, and AWRC Cash.
Photo by AWR1 Pierpoint.
2nd Place: HSM-41 FRACS: AWRAN Charles, AWRAN, DiMascio, AWRAN Bondwalker, and AWRAN Narte.
Photo by AWR1 Pierpoint.
3rd Place: HSM-74 Swamp Foxes: AN Thomas, AWR2 Johnston, AWR3 Felix, and AWR3 Wolk. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Fire Truck Pull Challenge Winners: HSC-28. AWS3 Hayes, AWS3 LeBlanc, AWS3 Benjamin, and HM2 Mullis.
Photo by AWR1 Pierpoint.
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 53 And in the Exhibit Hall..... Thank you to our Industry Partners for supporting NHA. See you next year at Harrah's / May 15-17, 2024!
Symposium in Pictures
Battle E Awards
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HSM-72 "Proud Warriors"
HSC-28 "Dragon Whales"
Battle E Awards
Symposium in Pictures
Battle E Awards
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HM-14 "The Vanguard"
CAPT Arnold J. Isbell Awards
The Isbell Trophy, sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is presented to HSM-51 "Warlords" by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin.
The Isbell Trophy, sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is presented to HSC-23 "Wildcards" by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin.
Symposium in Pictures
CAPT Arnold J. Isbell Awards
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The Isbell Trophy, sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is presented to HSM-72 "Proud Warriors" by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin.
The Isbell Trophy, sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is presented to HSC-7 "Dusty Dogs" by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin.
Photo by Ray Rivard.
Admiral Jimmy S. Thach Award
Commanding Officer Leadership Award
The Thach Award, sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is presented to HSM-71 "Raptors" by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Rear Admiral Tomaszeski Commanding Officer Leadership Award, sponsored by GE Aerospace, was presented to CDR Seth DiNola, USN, Commanding Officer of HSM-60 by RADM Tomaszeski, USN (Ret.) and Mr. Andrew Pitzen, Program Manager for GE Aviation. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Symposium in Pictures
Commander James R. Walker Tactician of the Year Award
Aircrew of the Year (Non-Deployed)
Commander James R. Walker Tactician of the Year Award, sponsored by BlueDrop USA, was presented to LT Johnathan Worstell, USN of HSCWINGLANT Weapons School by RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.), NHA National Chairman.
Aircrew of the Year (Non-Deployed), sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, is presented to Coast Guard Air Station Sitka Crew of CG6036 by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin. Accepting for the crew is the Copilot of CG 6036, LCDR Scott Woodcock, USCG. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Aircrew of the Year (Deployed)
Aircrew of the Year (Deployed), sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company was presented to the crews of NITE 610 and NITE 616 of HSC-4 "Black Knights" by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin. Accepting on behalf of the crews are CDR Thomas Murray, USN, LT Aaron Cusato, MC, USN, LT Taylor Minor, USN and HM1 Daniel Watters, USN. Photo by Ray
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Photo by Ray Rivard.
Aircrewman of the Year Rescue Swimmer of the Year
Aircrewman of the Year Award is sponsored by Breeze Eastern, awarded to AWS1 Jacob Glende, USN, of HSC12 and presented by Mr. David Creech, President/CEO/ Senior Consultant, Vertical Lift Consulting. Accepting for AWS1 Glende was HSCWINGPAC Commodore, CAPT Edward Weiler, USN. Photo by Ray Rivard.
COMNAVAIRPAC Enlisted Aircrewman of the Year
Rescue Swimmer of the Year Award is sponsored by Breeze Eastern, awarded to AST2 Richard Hoefle, USCG of USCG Air Station New Orleans and presented by Mr. David Creech, President and CEO Senior Consultant, Vertical Lift Consulting. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Aircrew Instructor of the Year
COMNAVAIRPAC Enlisted Aircrewman of the Year was awarded to AWR2 Brendon Ruggiero, USN, of HSM-78. It was presented by HSCWINGPAC Commodore, CAPT Edward Weiler, USN. NHA National Chairman, RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.) accepted on his behalf. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Aircrew Instructor of the Year, sponsored by CAE, was awarded to AWS1 Dominic Thomas, USN of HSCWSP. It was presented by Mr. Steven Leonard, Sr Manager Rotary Wing Programs at CAE. Accepting on AWS1 Thomas' behalf was AWSC Kevin Barchi, USN.
by Ray Rivard.
Training Command Instructor Pilot of the Year
Pilot of the Year
Training Command Instructor Pilot of the Year, sponsored by CAE, was awarded to LT Connor McKiernan, USN, of HT-8. The award was presented by Mr. Steven Leonard, Sr Manager Rotary Wing Programs at CAE. Accepting on LT McKiernan's behalf was HSMWINGLANT Commodore, CAPT Teague Laguens, USN. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Fleet Instructor Pilot of the Year
Pilot of the Year, sponsored by Navy Mutual, was presented to LT Jack Lahey, USN of HSM-78 by Mr. David Babcock, Military Affairs Liaison at Navy Mutual Aid Association.
Shipboard Pilot of the Year
Fleet Instructor Pilot of the Year sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, was presented to LCDR Stovall Knight, USN of VRM-50 by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Shipboard Pilot of the Year, sponsored by Vertex, a V2X Company, was awarded to LCDR Larry Wheeler, USN embarked aboard USS Iwo Jima (LPD 7). Presenting the award was Mr. Paul Sichenzia. RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.) NHA National Chairman, accepted on his behalf.
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Symposium in Pictures
Photo by Ray Rivard.
Photo by Ray Rivard.
Senior Enlisted (E6-E9) Maintainer of the Year
Junior Enlisted (E1-E5) Maintainer of the Year
Senior Enlisted (E6-E9) Maintainer of the Year, sponsored by Vertex, a V2X Company, was awarded to ADC Glenn Donahoe, USN of HSM-51. Mr. Paul Sichenzia presented the award. Accepting the award on his behalf was LCDR Matt Schwab. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Maintenance Officer of the Year
Junior Enlisted (E1-E5) Maintainer of the Year, sponsored by Recoil, was awarded to AE2 Caroline Logan, USN of HSC-28. Accepting on her behalf was CDR Coleen Minihan, USN, Commanding Officer of HSC-28. Photo by Ray Rivard.
The Golden Crew Chief Award
Maintenance Officer of the Year, sponsored by Recoil, was awarded to CWO4 Hatler Riddle, USN of HM-14. Accepting on his behalf was LCDR Emily Wallis, USN.
The Golden Crew Chief Award is sponsored by the Naval Helicopter Assocation Historical Society. This year's recipient is AWSCM Steve Turo, USN.
Mission Payload Operator of the Year
Air Vehicle Operator of the Year
Mission Payload Operator of the Year was sponsored by Northrop Grumman. This year's awardee was AWS2 Nicholas Woronoff, USN of HSC-23. Mr. Lance Eischeid, Program Director of Tactical Autonomous Systems at Northrop Grumman presented the award to AWS2 Woronoff.
AVO Instructor of the Year
Air Vehicle Operator of the Year, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, was awarded to LT Josh Rockman, USN of HSC-21 and presented by Mr. Lance Eischeid, Program Director of Tactical Autonomous Systems at Northrop Grumman.
MPO Instructor of the Year
AVO Instructor of the Year, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, was presented to LT Andrew George, USN of VTUAV (HSCWP DET PT. MUGU) by Mr. Lance Eischeid, Program Director of Tactical Autonomous Systems at Northrop Grumman.Photo by Ray Rivard.
MPO Instructor of the Year, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, was presented to AWSC Kevin Barchi,USN (HSCWSP) by Mr. Lance Eischeid, Program Director of Tactical Autonomous Systems at Northrop Grumman.
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Photo by Ray Rivard.
Photo by Ray Rivard.
Photo by Ray Rivard.
ANA Fleet Support/Special Mission Award
ANA Dorothy Flatley Award ANA Helicopter Aviation Award
The Association of Naval Aviation Fleet Support/Special Mission Award was presented to HSC-11 by CAPT David Kennedy, USN (Ret.) to the Commanding Officer of HSC-11, CDR Jeremiah Farwell, USN. Photo by Ray Rivard.
The Association of Naval Aviation Helicopter Aviation Award was presented to LT Jack Lahey, USN of HSM-78 by the ANA "Wings of Gold" Editor, CAPT David Kennedy, USN (Ret.). Photo by Ray Rivard.
The Association of Naval Aviation Dorothy Flatley Award 2023 recipient was Mrs. Taylor Caraway of HSM-72. It was presented by CAPT David Kennedy, USN (Ret.) to the JOs of HSM-72, one of whom accepted it on her behalf. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Service to NHA Lifelong Service to NHA
Service to NHA Award was presented to CDR Emily Stellpflug, USN, National President Naval Helicopter Association by RADM Dan Fillion, NHA Chairman. CDR Stellpflug is the Commanding Officer of VRM-50. Photo
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Chairman’s Award, sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, was presented to CAPT Steve Thomas, USN, 2022 Symposium Vice President by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Lifelong Service to NHA Award, sponsored by Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company, was presented to CAPT Arne Nelson, USN (Ret.), the President of the NHA Scholarship Fund by Mr. Hamid Salim, Vice President, Sikorsky Maritime & Mission Systems and Owego Site General Manager at Lockheed Martin. Photo by Ray Rivard.
by Ray Rivard.
NHA Volunteer of the Year Best Scribe
NHA Historical Society's Mark Starr Award
NHA Volunteer of the Year Award was awarded to LT Tyler Bothel, USN who was the Lead Junior Officer for NHA's 2022 Symposium and presented by RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.). LT Lei Acuna accepted on his behalf. Photo by Ray Rivard.
Best Scribe Award was presented to LCDR Rob Swain, USN of CAG-5 by RADM Dan Fillion, USN (Ret.), NHA Chairman. Photo by Ray Rivard.
The NHA Historical Society's Mark Starr Pioneer Award was presented to CAPT Joellen Drag-Oslund, USNR (Ret.) by Ms. Therese Caballes, Regional Vice President for California Credit Union who sponsored the award (center). The award was presented at the Breakfast honoring 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation.
HSC-9 Conducts MEDEVAC of Sailor from Submarine
By LT Shea "SIMBA" Davis, USN
“Is there anything we’re forgetting?” As the crew of six finished spinning up the helicopter, they remained on deck and paused for a moment before answering. As briefed, the question was asked by LCDR Greg ‘Gurg’ Sutter, the Helicopter Aircraft Commander (HAC), just prior to launching from USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) to execute a MEDEVAC from USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740).
On March 8th, 2023, at approximately 1100, HSC-9’s Alert 30 Crew was notified of a Sailor who presented with heartattack/stroke-like symptoms that required a MEDEVAC from a submarine to the nearest Level I Trauma Center. While the majority of the crew had previous MEDEVAC experience, no one had ever executed a MEDEVAC from a submarine. This posed a unique challenge to the crew. A challenge that was going to require the collaboration of the entirety of Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG-12) to overcome.
With an expected rendezvous time of 1700 with the submarine, the crew had several hours to carefully prepare for their flight. While HM1 Michael Trubatisky and HM3 Alejandro Garcia coordinated with Ford’s Medical Team to gather additional information on the status of the patient, AWS2 Nayran Fernandez and AWS3 Stephen Collins, the Crew Chief and Rescue Swimmer respectively, collaborated on the hoisting evolution. The Copilot, LT Shea "SIMBA" Davis, worked with her fellow squadron mates to research medical facilities ashore and to create a communications plan for the flight. It was determined that the patient would be taken to Shands Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida. While LT Davis reviewed the Jacksonville area with HSC9’s sister squadron, HSM-70, and coordinated fuel at NAS Jacksonville, LCDR Sutter collaborated with Carrier Air Wing Eight’s (CVW-8) Operations Department (CAG OPS) and Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON 2) to devise a route of flight and fuel plan.
Once preflight planning was complete, to include a weather brief highlighting the day’s rough seas and strong winds, LCDR Sutter joined HSC-9’s Commanding Officer, CDR Robert ‘Wolf’ Anderson, to brief the Ford’s Commanding Officer, CAPT Paul ‘Paulie’ Lanzilotta, on the evolution. Willing to pause Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and clear the flight deck if required, CAPT Lanzilotta offered to assist the crew in all ways possible to ensure the successful execution of the MEDEVAC. With phenomenal efforts from the Air Boss and flight deck personnel, Aircraft 612 was spotted on the very busy flight deck without interrupting fixed-wing launches and recoveries. With the full support of CVW-8 and the full efforts of CSG-12 standing behind them, the Crew of Trident 612 was ready to launch!
The location of Rhode Island was anticipated to be approximately 100 miles to the north of Ford’s present
position, with then another 50 miles to the medical facility. With coordination from DESRON Commodore, CAPT William Harkin, a ‘lily-pad’ fuel hit was pre-arranged with USS McFaul (DDG 74) to enable the crew to refuel in the vicinity of the Rhode Island.
During the transit to McFaul, the aircraft was unusually silent as each crew member reviewed their procedures and mentally caged-in for the events that were to unfold. With McFaul in sight, the silence was broken with familiar chatter as the crew set up for landing and briefed the approach to the single-spot ship. As expected, the high sea state had the destroyer pitching and rolling close to maximum acceptable limits for landing. Landing without incident, Trident 612 refueled and remained on deck until just prior to the expected rendezvous time with Rhode Island.
Upon lifting from McFaul, the wake of the submarine was almost immediately visible several miles off the port bow of the destroyer. The pilots cycled through a number of frequencies before ultimately hailing Rhode Island on Maritime 16 and proceeding to switch to a discrete frequency.
Once on station, the crew assessed winds to be 25-30 knots off the bow of the boat. Furthermore, due to the high sea state, the submarine was required to make 12-15 knots to stay
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MEDEVAC from USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740)
balanced afloat. With seas nearing ten feet, waves were crashing over the top of the missile deck, which would be the primary hoisting location per the Air Capable NATOPS Manual. The secondary hoisting locations, the horizontal sailplanes, were also deemed unfeasible as occasional swells were washing over them as well. This forced the crew to execute a precision hoist to the center bridge area of the sail.
To execute the precision hoist, the crew initially maneuvered overhead to hover in line with the submarine, and began to hoist down AWS3 Collins in a double lift with HM1 Trubatisky. However, based on the heavy winds, the speed of the submarine, and a lack of visual references, the crew was unable to execute the hoisting evolution with the aircraft in the established position relative to the submarine.
Electing to accept a crosswind to afford better visual references along the length of the submarine, the pilot pedalturned 90 degrees to the left before continuing the hoisting evolution. As the aircrewmen touched down immediately next to the bridge, the crew of Rhode Island helped them climb to the top of the sail. Once aboard, HM1 Trubatisky went below deck to assess the patient, while AWS3 Collins maintained communications with the aircraft using the Aircraft Wireless Internal Communications System (AWICS).
AWS3 Collins relayed to the flying crew that the patient was assessed to be ambulatory and was capable of being hoisted via the rescue strop, vice a vertical lift in a litter, which would have been the only feasible lift method given the size of the sail bridge. This method of lift decreased risk to the patient and
minimized the duration of the hoisting evolution. Once the patient safely made it into the cabin, HM3 Garcia attended to the patient as AWS2 Fernandez hoisted up the aircrewmen and gave the ready call to proceed with forward flight. Total time on station was 42 minutes.
Enroute to Shands Medical Center, Jacksonville, FL, HM1 Trubatisky and HM3 Garcia accessed the patient’s vitals. As the crew continued inbound towards the shoreline, ‘Trident 612’ became ‘Rescue 612’ as the pilots spoke with Approach Control. They received clearance to proceed direct to Shands Medical Center where, upon arrival to the rooftop helipad, they were met by medical staff standing by with a gurney for patient transfer.
With patient turnover complete, an unspoken, but unanimous sense of relief came over the crew of Trident 612. As the aircraft lifted from the rooftop, the crew mentally recaged for the return flight to Ford. It wasn’t until the entire crew was hanging up their gear in the paraloft at the end of the evening, that all that was accomplished that day began to sink in with everyone.
The feat of this particularly challenging MEDEVAC would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of HSC-9, HSM-70, DDG 74, SSBN 740, DESRON 2, CVW8, and CVN 78. A demonstration of wholesome teamwork within a CSG, this MEDEVAC is an example of the steadfast efficiency the Navy continuously trains to while prioritizing the Navy’s greatest asset, our Sailors.
The Firehawks Say Farewell
By CDR Robert “Ricky Bobby” Coffman, USN
OnFriday, 30 June 2023, the Firehawks of HSC-85 conducted their last flight and celebrated their contributions as a warfighting unit prior to their deactivation on 30 September 2023. The squadron’s deactivation is historic, as it not only marks the end to the longest continuously serving Navy Reserve Squadron, but also the end of 57 years of the Navy’s continuous dedicated rotary-wing support to Naval Special Warfare and Combat Search and Rescue. The deactivation of HSC-85 in 2023 follows the 2016 disestablishment of its sister squadron, the Red Wolves of HSC-84, and the disestablishment of the other Reserve HSC augment units; Tactical Support Units on each coast, and the HSC Squadron Augmentation Unit at HSC-3 in 2021. In October, the HSC-3 Fleet Support Detachment servicing the Southern California Tactical Training Range (formerly SCORE) will carry the torch as the last Reserve HSC formation.
As we close out this chapter of the last operational Reserve Combat Support Squadron, it is prudent to recall its history, highlight key contributions to the Navy rotary-wing community, and recognize the capability and capacity HSC85 and its forbears have provided to Commanders across the Joint Force over the many years of operations.
HSC-85’s lineage encompasses a number of previous aviation units, both active and reserve, including the U.S. Navy’s first operational helicopter squadron, the Fleet Angels of Helicopter Utility Squadron ONE (HU-1), which was established in April 1948. These predecessors performed missions including anti-submarine warfare, logistics, combat search and rescue, close air support and special operations support.
HU-1 was re-designated as Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 1 (HC-1) in 1966 and deployed in detachments to support combat operations in Vietnam. The squadron continued to grow and expand its missions, leading to its reorganization into four new squadrons. Of those new units, the Sea Devils of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 7 (HC7) were assigned the “Combat Search and Rescue” mission and the Seawolves of Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) 3
(HA(L)-3) were assigned the “Special Operations Support” mission. Additionally, the utility of helicopters continued to grow throughout U.S. Navy operations, and “Anti-Submarine Warfare” helicopter units were also established to protect surface action groups from submarine threats and provide search and rescue capabilities and “Logistics Support” to the Surface Fleet.
After hostilities ended in Vietnam, the Navy recognized a need to form reserve aviation squadrons in order to retain the expertise and hard-earned lessons of combat-experienced aviators and maintenance personnel leaving active service, but willing to remain in the Navy Reserve as citizen Sailors. In June 1975, Helicopter Wing Reserve (HELWINGRES) was established at NAS North Island and included the HA(L)4 Red Wolves and HA(L)-5 Bluehawks performing special operations support and the HC-9 Protectors performing combat search and rescue.
Anti-Submarine Warfare, Fleet and Logistics Support
As demand for rotary-wing support to the Fleet also grew, the Golden Gaters of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron 85 (HS-85) were established in July 1970. Operating out of NAS Alameda, HS-85 flew the Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King and later the SH-3D and SH-3H, providing logistics support to the Pacific Fleet and serving as a repository of anti-submarine experience and talent for aircrews and maintainers in the Navy Reserve. In 1993, HS-85 moved from NAS Alameda to NAS North Island in San Diego, CA.
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HSC-85 Flyover during Deactivation Ceremony
In October 1994, HS85 was re-designated as HC-85 while retaining the Golden Gaters name. HC85 operated the UH-3H Sea King and remained a provider of search and rescue and logistics support to the Pacific Fleet, as well as supporting target launch and torpedo recovery on the Southern California Offshore Range (SCORE) Complex at San Clemente Island.
In February 2006, the squadron was again redesignated, this time as Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85 (HSC-85) High Rollers. Trading in its UH-3H Sea Kings for Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawks, HSC-85 deployed to Kuwait as part of the 2515th Navy Air Ambulance Detachment (NAAD), provided critical firefighting support in San Diego in 2007, and continued its Pacific Fleet and SCORE support until 2011 when the squadron was re-tasked to dedicated special operations support.
HC-85 “Golden Gaters” transition from the UH-3 to the `MH-60S, and are re-designated the HSC-85 “High Rollers,” tasked with conducting Fleet Support operations
Combat Search and Rescue Support
On September 1, 1967, the HC-7 Sea Devils were established out of two separate HC-1 search and rescue detachments, one homeported at NAAF Ream Field in Imperial Beach, CA and one homeported at NAF Atsugi, Japan. HC-7 flew the Kaman HH-2C Sea Sprite and Sikorsky HH-3A Sea King – dubbed “Big Mothers” – and deployed as detachments supporting combat search and rescue operations throughout the Pacific Fleet and Southeast Asia areas of operations. Following an incredible record of over 150 personnel rescued (including fighter aces, LT William Driscoll and LT Randy Cunningham), 5 Navy Crosses, 3 Silver Stars, 8 Distinguished Flying Crosses and Medal of Honor awarded to LT Clyde Lassen, HC-7 and all associated detachments were disestablished on June 30, 1975.
In order to preserve the combat experience of HC-7 aircrews and personnel, the U.S. Navy Reserve immediately established the HC-9 Protectors on August 1, 1975 as part of HELWINGRES. HC-9 continued to fly the HH-3A Sea King, providing combat search and rescue tactical training, as well as operational support when called upon, to carrier strike groups. HC-9 was disestablished in 1988 as HELWINGRES combined combat search and rescue and special operations support into two remaining reserve squadrons, Helicopter Combat Support Squadrons (Special) 4 and 5 (HCS-4 and HCS-5).
Special Operations Support
In 1966, U.S. Forces in Vietnam initiated Operation GAME WARDEN, which consisted of Navy SEALs patrolling the rivers of the Mekong Delta in an attempt to limit Viet Cong traffic. They were supported from the air during enemy contact by U.S. Army Bell UH-1 Iroquois Gunships. The distance from the Army gunship bases was often too great for timely support, and HC-1 was soon called upon due to their closer proximity to the waterways of the Delta. Stationed aboard Tank Landing Ships (LST), HC-1 operated in twohelicopter detachments of UH-1 Hueys. As HC-1 grew and became too unwieldy to be effective as a single squadron, the detachments of Operation SEALORDS were consolidated into a single squadron, the HA(L)-3 Seawolves, in April 1967. The squadron of former HC-1 and new personnel eventually comprised nine detachments along the Delta with a maintenance headquarters at Binh Thuy, Vietnam.
The Seawolves’ support to Navy SEALs and Patrol Boat Riverine (PBR) Crews during 78,000 combat missions between April 1967 and March 1972 is legendary. As the most decorated squadron in Naval Aviation history, their operations in Vietnam resulted in 24,000 individual decorations, including 5 Navy Crosses, 31 Silver Stars, 219 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 16,000 Air Medals and six Presidential Unit Citations. Forty-four Seawolves were killed-in-action or remain missing. As the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, HA(L)3 was disestablished in March 1972, giving the unit the distinction of being the only Naval Aviation squadron to be established and disestablished outside of the United States.
Again, in order to preserve combat experience in helicopter operations, HELWINGRES established two squadrons to continue the special operations support mission, the Red Wolves of HA(L)-4 and the Bluehawks of HA(L)-5. HA(L)-5, established in March, 1977 and based at NAS Point Mugu,
and HA(L)-4, established one year later and based at NS Norfolk, both operated the HH1K Huey, supported Naval Special Warfare through special operations training and deployed operational support when called upon.
On October 1, 1988, HA(L)-5 was redesignated HCS-5, became known as the Firehawks, and eventually moved to NAS North Island. HA(L)-4 was re-designated HCS-4 and kept the Red Wolves name. Both squadrons transitioned to the Sikorsky HH-60H—known unofficially as the Rescue Hawk and specifically designed for the Navy Reserve squadrons’ requirements—and continued their mission of special operations support and integrating the combat search and rescue mission when HC-9 was disestablished.
The Firehawks of HCS-5 and Red Wolves of HCS-4 continued to provide worldwide support to Combatant Commander requirements, to include combat search and rescue operations during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, special operations support during UPHOLD DEMOCRACY, and performing both missions during support to Joint Special Operations Air Detachment, Arabian Peninsula (JSOAD-AP) during IRAQI FREEDOM. As a testament to their dedication and support to the Joint Force, both HCS-5 and HCS-4 flew a combined total of 13,481 combat hours during IRAQI FREEDOM, earned 1,437 Strike/Flight Air Medals, 120 single action Air Medals with valor, 15 Bronze Stars, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and supported the capture of 732 High Value Targets. While still performing combat operations, HCS-5 was disestablished on December 31, 2006, leaving HCS-4, re-designated HSC84, as the sole Navy squadron dedicated to special operations support until its deactivation in 2016.
In 2010, HSC-85 was re-tasked to dedicated special operations support at the request of U.S. Special Operations Command as a result of the continued critical combat support provided by HSC-84 to JSOAD-AP in Iraq and the everincreasing demand for capable SOF-support rotary-wing crews. HSC-85 assumed the Firehawks name and insignia from HCS-5 and transitioned from the MH-60S to the HH-60H. The HSC-85 Firehawks began supporting special operations in 2011, and first deployed to the U.S. IndoPacific (INDOPACOM) area of responsibility in 2013 in support of Special Operations Command, Pacific (SOCPAC) operational requirements. Later that year, the squadron established a continuously forward-deployed detachment in INDOPACOM, supporting numerous operations and exercises with Joint, partner, and allied forces all throughout the region, while also supporting every component of U.S. special operations training across the United States.
In 2015, budget constraints directed the deactivation of HSC-84 and HSC-85, even as both were deployed at the time in support of theater command’s contingency and operational requirements. While HSC-85 was ultimately retained to support NSW and INDOPACOM requirements, HSC-84 was disestablished in 2016, with the U.S. Navy pledging to retain special operations and combat search and rescue mission experience in newly formed Tactical Support Units on both the east (TSULANT) and west (TSUPAC) coasts. These support units were later deactivated due to budget constraints in 2021.
The Firehawks returned to INDOPACOM in 2017, but later that year the squadron was ordered to provide critical combat search and rescue support to U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM). As the rotary-wing component of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA), HSC-85 aircrews flew hundreds of combat missions in support of U.S. and Partner special operations forces in and around the Horn of Africa and saved numerous partner force lives while performing combat casualty evacuations in support of combined operations. After completing their mission and being relieved by joint forces, HSC-85’s detachment returned directly to INDOPACOM in 2018.
In December 2018, HSC-85’s overseas detachment redeployed from INDOPACOM to NAS North Island and transitioned from the HH-60H to the Block III MH-60S. The squadron deployed its first MH-60S detachment to INDOPACOM in June 2019, along with MH-60S aircraft uniquely equipped with the GAU-17 minigun and other Navy Reserve-funded modifications to improve safety and lethality. These modifications included: DAIRCM for increased survivability; Cabin J-Voice transmit and receive for increased aircrew situational awareness; and a FRIES quickrelease system enabling aircrew to release fastropes from their gunner seat while also being able to man their crew-served weapons.
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HCS-5 in Iraq. Image courtesy of the HCS-5 Facebook Group.
Between 2019 and 2022, the squadron maintained a continuous detachment in INDOPACOM, supporting multiple Joint Chiefs of Staff exercises throughout the region, while also representing the only dedicated rotary-wing asset for special operations forwarddeployed in the theater. Due to the size of the INDOPACOM area of responsibility, the Firehawks frequently utilized both Strategic Airlift (STRATLIFT) and selfdeployment to move throughout the theater for exercise and operational support, routinely basing and operating in remote and austere locations. Through these experiences, the Firehawks developed critical lessons learned for Navy and Joint rotary-wing communities that are especially relevant to growing community requirements. They conducted critical deterrence operations against our strategic competitor in the region, conducted multiple selfsupported long-range intra-theater movements throughout INDOPACOM, and provided rapid support for the President of the United States when visiting the theater.
The HSC-85 “Firehawks” completed their transition from the HH-60H to the MH-60S in 2018. Additional modifications and capabilities included: GAU-17 Mini-Gun; FRIES Quick-Release; Cabin J-Voice; Cabin RADALT; and DAIRCM.
2022. As the last operational Reserve Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron, the deactivation of HSC-85 marks the culmination of the community's 57 years of dedicated rotary-wing support to Naval Special Warfare and Combat Search and Rescue.
After a decade of near-continuous deployment to INDOPACOM, financial constraints again precipitated the deactivation of HSC-85. Initially, analysis from the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict (ASD SOLIC) gave the squadron a reprieve by reporting that “no other service has a General Purpose Force unit capable of performing [missions] at the level of HSC85” and directed funding. Ultimately, budget demands still required unit deactivation and the Firehawks re-deployed from INDOPACOM to NAS North Island in September
The Firehawks take immense pride in the fact that since 1970, the squadron has provided Combatant Commanders, the Joint Force, the Navy, and the Navy Reserve with costeffective, combat-credible aircraft, aircrew, and maintainers ready to provide surge capacity and strategic depth, at home or abroad, across the full spectrum of operations. HSC-85 has validated the model that Navy Reserve squadrons can accomplish the most intensive missions efficiently and that Navy Rotary Wing Aviation can execute the most demanding combat operations effectively.
The experience and ethos of the Firehawks will be spread across the Fleet and the HSC Community as their exceptional Active and Reserve Sailors join new units. They will take with them humility knowing that they stood on the shoulders of giants in the Navy Rotary Wing Community, and zeal to share their knowledge and experience to sustain helicopter combat support for years to come.
CAPT Nevius: A TPS Trailblazer
By LT Katie "SID" Kidder, USN
Whoeversaid you shouldn’t meet your hero has clearly never met CAPT Colleen Nevius, USNR (Ret.). As the first female Navy Test Pilot, CAPT Nevius has broken barriers and paved the way for thousands of aviators like me. At this year’s NHA Symposium in San Diego, I had the pleasure of meeting CAPT Nevius along with other trailblazing aviators, whose service, sacrifice, and perseverance have enabled women, like me, this career opportunity. The celebration of 50 Years of Women Flying in Naval Aviation has ignited my desire to learn about the legends who came before me, and I am grateful that the Navy has taken the time and attention to celebrate this major milestone. Meeting these trailblazing women at NHA was like meeting my heroes, and I was thrilled with the opportunity to interview CAPT Nevius.
Second Class of Women in ROTC
Growing up the daughter of a Navy Captain and one of six children, when her father brought home the instruction that allowed women to join the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in 1972, Colleen immediately imagined herself in uniform. At the time, the Naval Academy did not accept women and only four universities accepted women for ROTC. As part of the second class of ROTC women, Colleen graduated from Purdue University in 1977. She noted that leadership and her classmates were supportive of her pursuits, emphasizing that “when leadership is ok with it, everyone else falls in line.” As one of many leadership lessons CAPT Nevius shared with me throughout the interview, I found this particular quote to speak truth in ways that can be both beneficial and potentially destructive, particularly in terms of command culture. Leadership Lesson Number One: Subordinates will mostly follow and fall in line, whether that is for better or for worse. Fortunately, CAPT Nevius had several excellent leaders and mentors throughout her Navy career, though she was not exempt from the challenges that come with changing the status quo.
Mediterranean Sea or Bust!
With CAPT Joellen Drag Oslund’s challenge to the law that banned women from serving or simply flying near Navy vessels, the District Court’s 1978 finding paved the way for CAPT Nevius’ first assignment at Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC) 6 at NAS Norfolk. After earning her wings of gold in 1979, she had hoped for an East Coast squadron with the belief that the West Coast is too far from D.C. and Admirals would have less oversight and more latitude to keep women from opportunities. Even with her assignment in Norfolk, she was pulled from her first VERTREP detachment onboard USS Kalamazoo (AOR-6) because “the Navy was not ready to have women on ships in the Mediterranean Sea.” So instead, Nevius was assigned duty to fly and transport the fleet admiral. She noted that “while it was a good deal, it wasn’t the REAL deal,” which would have been flying VERTREP in the Med with the rest of her squadron.
Nevius did eventually get the opportunity to VERTREP in the Med when USS Kalamazoo was tasked to provide logistical support following an incident with an F-14 and an Iranian aircraft. To celebrate her opportunity, the mess staff made her a cake with the words “Congrats, Med at last!” While onboard and nearing the end of her tour, the skipper of Kalamazoo, an A-7 driver, invited the pilots to dinner. The skipper asked each pilot what they intended to do next. When she responded that she had no idea, he asked if she had ever considered Test Pilot School. One simple question opened a world of opportunity and the chance to make history. Nevius had not considered it a realistic possibility, but the fact that he asked made her “realize it wasn’t a stupid idea.” Leadership Lesson Number Two: Ask those you lead about potential opportunities, regardless of your perception of their interests or if they fit the status quo. This goes for wardroom social functions too. No woman had been through TPS, so the suggestion to Colleen was significantly outside the norm.
Test Pilot School
Prior to arriving at TPS, Nevius had strong concerns about attending. “They’re setting me up to fail to prove that women can’t do it,” she thought, and explained that this was a common feeling for women of her generation. While much of the pressure she experienced was internal, she occasionally faced blatant instances of external negativity, like when the outgoing CO told her “she wouldn’t graduate because her academic background wasn’t strong enough.” Despite these remarks and the fact that other classmates had weaker academic backgrounds, Nevius excelled in the busy, fast-paced
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Then MIDN Nevius with MIDN Carol Pottenger at Purdue University NROTC.
course graduating as the first female pilot TPS Graduate in 1983. She recalled how much effort and teamwork went into every project, joking that her schedule consisted of “8 hours of academics, 8 hours of flying, and 8 hours of report writing per day!” In addition to great leadership and instruction, she noted that “everyone contributed their strengths - we were too busy to mess with each other.” Despite the busy schedule, Nevius noted that her leadership always made time for the team to take a break together. Leadership Lesson Number Three: Always value the sanity of those you lead and realize when it is time for a break.
During our interview, CAPT Nevius raved about all the aircraft she flew at TPS. When asked about her favorite aircraft, she said, “Every aircraft is my favorite if it’s doing the right thing! CH-46 was great for VERTREP, Cobra great for shooting, T-2 for fixed wing cross country.” In total, Nevius flew 25-30 different aircraft, including an airship! She loved to take jet pilots flying in the 46 and described the CH-53E as a Cadillac. While at the Rotary Wing Test Directorate, Attack Assault Branch, Nevius served as the project pilot for several projects including a Safety, Reliability & Maintainability (SR&M) Upgrade for the CH-46 and HEFS (Helicopter Emergency Flotation), from which she earned the nickname "bag lady." After checking out in the brand new CH-53E, she was tasked to evaluate its ability to fly in icing conditions, “by flying in Duluth, Minnesota behind a Chinook with a spray device.” I could go on and on about the amazing stories she shared from her time at TPS, but that was not the end of her Navy career.
Following TPS, Nevius kept flying the CH-53E, and helped stand up Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HC) 2’s Vertical Onboard Delivery (VOD) Squadron. After transitioning to the reserves in 1988, CAPT Nevius took assignments at NAS Belle Chasse, LA and served as Anti-Submarine Warfare Operations Center (ASWOC) XO and then Officer in Charge (OIC) of a C-12 Detachment. She then became a Blue and Gold Officer for the Naval Academy, in efforts to boost diversity. Following her retirement from the Navy in 2003, CAPT Nevius became a middle school math teacher.
CAPT Nevius’ accomplishments, leadership, and service have inspired generations of women and men alike. But she did not get there alone, and she credits the help of her classmates, mentors, and leadership for her success. To wrap up our interview, I asked if she had any words of advice for future generations of women. She responded with Leadership Lesson Number Four: The value of good leadership, networking and mentorship, whether formal or informal, and the importance of finding invested mentors for yourself and to be that mentor for those who follow is essential. As discussed throughout the interview and this article, good leadership includes, but is not limited to, setting the standard, providing opportunities regardless of perception, and caring for your people. CAPT Colleen Nevius lives and embodies these principles, and enables thousands of women to do the same.
Nevius preflighting an H-46 at Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Directorate, Patuxent River, MD.
A Leak in CRM
By LT Marc “Nancy” Pelessone, USN
Whiledeployed on USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11), HSC4’s two aircraft MH-60S detachment prepares for an early morning launch for a vertical replenishment (VERTREP) evolution. We are hundreds of miles off the coast, slowly moving into a connected replenishment (CONREP) position. Our crew completes preflight checks with no issues. We call for green deck and launch shortly after. Within about a minute of launch, our #1 HYD PUMP and #1 RSVR LOW Cautions appear. The near simultaneous occurrence of this is striking. The leak detection and isolation (LDI) logic should have taken care of a leak in the primary tail rotor lines. Could we have a leak elsewhere?
I announce the indications followed by “#1 Primary Servo or Transfer Module Leak, Primary Servo - First Off, Land as Soon as Practicable. Let’s turn back towards the ship.” But confusion ensues. The pilot in command asserts, “No, not first off.” After a brief discussion, along with a nerve-racking turn towards the ship, it becomes clear he is not recently familiar with this emergency procedure. He expected, reasonably so, that we would have had some amount of warning from the #1 RSVR LOW Caution preceding the #1 HYD PUMP Caution. But, with the indications present, our crew delayed performing the appropriate checklist. I pull out the checklist, read the step, and move the switch to “First Off.”
On final for landing, we receive the B/U RSVR LOW Caution. Are we going to have a loss of tail rotor control? Luckily, we do not. Moments after landing tower notifies us that the flight deck is covered in hydraulic fluid. We completely drained the remainder of our backup hydraulic system upon landing. We quickly shutdown. Maintenance inspects the aircraft and confirms both the primary and backup systems were empty.
So what happened?
We learned that, a few days prior the maintenance crew replaced the #1 tail rotor servo. During the replacement, the
hydraulic supply line was somehow kinked. This kink, however, was hidden under a label placard, rendering it completely impossible to catch on inspection or preflight. Once the leak started, it drained the #1 Hydraulic System so quickly that the LDI logic switching to the #2 Tail Rotor Servo was not fast enough to prevent the #1 Hydraulic System from draining completely. Once the #1 HYD PUMP Caution appeared, the LDI reopened the #1 Tail Rotor Servo because it assumed the leak was not there. This led to the Backup Hydraulic System being completely depleted as well.
There is a lot to take away from this flight. Both pilots should have been more familiar with the emergency procedure. I knew the procedure, but once challenged by my aircraft commander, my assertiveness quickly vanished. As the pilot with higher situational awareness, I should have taken charge and been more directive with the crew. Along with a communication breakdown in the front, there was a lack of clear communication between the pilots and the aircrewmen, leaving them in the dark regarding the emergency we were fighting. Despite this degraded CRM, we did turn back to the ship and execute our landing without any delay. This emergency initially started as a land as soon as practical, however, treating it like a land as soon as possible may have been our saving grace. Prolonging our airborne troubleshooting could have caused us to experience a loss of tail rotor control, which would have greatly increased the difficulty of a safe landing at sea to a single spot ship.
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An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the “Black Knights” of HSC-4, prepares to transport supplies from USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE 11) during a vertical replenishmentat-sea with Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erin C. Zorich, USN.
The True Value of a Fellowship
By CDR C. Stiles Herdt, USN
Upto this tour, my career had focused on being the best operational naval officer to support my community and as a maritime advocate in the joint environment. The decision to apply and ultimately accept a fellowship was hard and easy. Let me share my experience and help those interested in the Federal Executive Fellowship Program or other similar educational opportunities take that leap.
Applying for the fellowship was encouraged by two mentors, both of whom applied, but because of career timing were unable to accept. Gaining the support of my chain of command and community managers went smoothly. I highly encourage applicants to challenge them for a transparent conversation. Many of our senior leaders have not had the opportunity to participate in continuing education programs. Ensure they are informed of the “why” you want to apply, the value of this opportunity, and what you will bring back to your community and ultimately, our Navy. Many applicants may be in a leadership role. Juggling your personal ambition is hard when focused on taking care of Sailors and mission execution – take time for yourself, which is the “hard” part.
I was in my 4th year as an XO or CO, it was incredibly rewarding and like so many leadership books you read, from Mattis to Powell, they say that O-5 command is the pinnacle – they were not wrong! In addition to sitting in a front office for that long, my squadron also deployed twice during the pandemic, not an easy time to lead and operate with no port visits and resiliency issues. The fellowship offered me an opportunity to take a breath, reconnect with my family, and take care of my personal resiliency – that was what made accepting “easy.”
I was selected to serve at a premier think tank in Washington, D.C., The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). It is a world class organization, bridging the gap between academia and decision makers in our government, with over 600 research focused employees, covering everything from health, energy, migration, regional focus, defense, and so much more. I often joked with my spouse, it was like being in a podcast every day. Some quick highlights include dinner with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, participation in a global food security event with Cindy McCain, international travel for research field study, and countless office calls to engage the interagency.
My fellowship came with a bonus. I was also a fellow at the U.S. Naval Institute (USNI) in Annapolis, MD. For an academy grad, having an office on the yard is amazing. I served on the editorial board for Proceedings Magazine, reading and reviewing dozens of articles submitted for publication and essay contests. As a board member, you get to see the inner workings of a premier news, publishing, and
maritime advocacy organization. The event I was most proud of at USNI was hands down planning and executing a design thinking laboratory for over 60 junior Sailors, Marines, and civilians to answer two questions proposed by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).
During my time in the fellowship, I researched a variety of topics from Artificial Intelligence to Global Fragility Act to continuity of care in Mental Health to retaining senior talent in our armed services. Many of these topics frustrated me in command, However, the research involved led down rabbit holes that informed my opinion and often resulted in engagements with thoughtful, self-proclaimed “experts” in the D.C. area, such as Assistant Secretaries, Congressional Staffers, and quite a few Ambassadors.
To say that this experience was worthwhile would be an understatement. It was life changing. What I will bring back to the service in my remaining years strategically is immeasurable. Coupled with the networking and publications, the value of military service is crystal clear and has shown me what doors are open on the outside. In the short year, all the Fellows serving across the country at think tanks, defense companies, and academic institutions collaborated and leveraged each other’s experiences. Every one of them conveyed the same sentiment, that fellowships and educational programs are some of the best opportunities the Navy has to offer.
APPLY NOW! You will not regret the opportunity that fellowships and educational opportunities can provide –professionally and personally.
To find more information about fellowships please review the NAVADMIN 133/23 Academic Year 20242025 (AY2024-2025) Strategist and National Security Fellowships and Graduate Education Scholarship Programs Call for Applications: https://www.mynavyhr.navy.mil/ Portals/55/Messages/NAVADMIN/NAV2023/NAV23133. txt?ver=PdAi7O3JB6RGUIDqaevAOQ%3d%3d
AY2024-25 applications are due to Navy Personnel Command no later than September 1, 2023. All supplemental information to the selection board must be received no later than September 22, 2023. Details about requirements, how to apply and points of contacts for questions are in the NAVADMIN. Thank you!
This is a courtesy story from Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Development, (OPNAV N7) The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not reflect those of CSIS/USNI, the U.S. Navy or Department of Defense.
$41.4M Contract Awarded for AHTS Flight Simulator Facility
By Jeffrey Hamlin, NAVFAC Public Affairs, Jacksonville, Fla.
Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Southeast awarded a $41.4 million firm-fixed-price task order under a multiple award construction contract, April 25, to The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company, for construction of a Flight Simulator Facility to support the Advanced Helicopter Training System (AHTS) at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field, Florida.
The TH-73A Thrasher Helicopter is just one part of AHTS that is replacing the Navy’s aging fleet of TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopters, which have been in service for over 30 years.
“The new flight simulator facility, also part of AHTS, will provide our newest aviators with a modern learning environment that complements their training in the TH-73A,” said Capt. Jade Lepke, Commodore of Training Air Wing Five.
The project constructs a single-story facility that will be divided into three functional spaces: academics, simulator bay, and administrative functions.
The academics section will contain all spaces related to conduct pilot training and student services. The simulator bay is a high-bay space that will accommodate 18 helicopter simulators. The administrative spaces will provide an area to conduct simulator maintenance and flight instructor administration In addition to the high fidelity flight simulators, the facility will take advantage of the latest in mixed reality simulators and smart classroom technology.
Lepke said, “This new technology will ensure our students receive interactive training that will undoubtedly make every flight hour in the TH-73A more effective and will train a more capable Naval Aviator for the Fleet.” The contract also provides for facility-related control systems to include cybersecurity features in accordance with current DoD criteria. Paving and site improvements include grading, parking facility, roadways, curbs, sidewalks, landscaping, mechanical equipment pad, dumpster pad and exterior signage. Electrical utilities include primary and secondary distribution systems, outside lighting, transformers, and telecommunications infrastructure. Mechanical utilities include sanitary sewer lines, storm water lines, potable and fire protection water supply lines, and chilled water lines. This work will be performed at Milton, Florida, and is expected to be completed by April 2027.
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 78 Industry and Technology
Change of Command
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72)
USS MOUNT WHITNEY (LCC 20)
HT-18 Vigilant Eagles
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 80
CAPT Pete Riebe, USN relieved CAPT Amy Bauernschmidt, USN May 18, 2023
CDR Scott Lippincott, USN relieved
CDR Jameel McDaniel, USN May 12, 2023
CDR David E. Kiser, USN relieved LtCol Daniel Caroffino, USMC June 1, 2023.
CAPT Matthew J. Kiser, USN relieved
CAPT Daniel Prochazka, USN April 12, 2023
CDR Keith A. Johnson, USN relieved
CDR Annie Otten, USN May 22, 2023
CDR Brian Mowry, USN relieved
CDR Allen Jacob, USN April 13, 2023
HSM-72 Proud Warriors
HSC-12 Golden Falcons
CDR Jeffrey C. Storer, USN relieved
CDR Patrick E. Blind, USN
May 25, 2023
CDR Carolyn Peterson, USN
June 1, 2023
HSC-28 Dragon Whales
CDR Seth Saalfeld, USN relieved
CDR Jonathan Dorsey, USN
June, 1, 2023
CDR Nicholas Green, USN relieved
LtCol Matthew Baumann, USMC
June 12, 2023
CDR Christopher J. Lewis, USN relieved
CDR Colleen M. Minihan, USN
June 1, 2023
CDR Philip D. Pretzinger, USN relieved
CDR Ian P. Adams, USN
June 9, 2023
Katie J. Lunser, USN relieved
Change of Command
HSC-4 Black Knights
CDR Benjamin Hendricks, USN June 22, 2023
CDR Heather Thomas, USN relieved
CDR Joshua Starr, USN June 15, 2023
CDR Seth DiNola, USN May 4, 2023
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CDR Anne C. Bruckman, USN relieved
James R. Powers, USN July 13, 2023
Ryan W. Meeuf, USN relieved
CAPT William Easthan, USN relieved CAPT Edward Weiler, USN July 27, 2023
CDR Tom McCurdy, USN relieved
CDR Nate Browne, USN relieved
CDR Michael Henderson, USN July 14, 2023
CDR David M. Bigay, USN relieved
CAPT David A. Bizzarri, USN July 20, 2023
CDR Thomas Butts, USN relieved
CAPT David W. Ayotte USN August 3, 2023
CDR Matt Wright, USN relieved
CDR Santico Valenzuela, USN July 20, 2023
CDR Christopher P. Yost, USN relieved CAPT John Anderson, USN August 11, 2023
CAPT Ross A. Drenning, USN relieved
CAPT Andrew P. Mariner, USN July 21, 2023
HT-8 Assists in Successful Search and Rescue
HT-8 Facebook Post May 10, 2023
HT-8 was recently called on to assist in locating a drowning victim near Evergreen, AL. The Eightballer Crew launched on the fourth day of the search to employ their fleet search and rescue training, successfully locating the victim and directing a local dive team to the site. Bravo Zulu to LT Petersen, LT Melzer, LCDR Hodgson, and AWSC Mefford.
Ms. Paula Eagen Celebrates 45 Years of Service at Whiting
By CDR Dave Kiser, USN
Paula Eagen is a Whiting Field Legend. July marked forty five years of service to the government, an unbelievable feat. Most of the readers of this article know Ms. Paula as the Administrative Assistant for Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN and have either worked with her or have conducted business with her. Not many people know about her history or how she arrived at NAS Whiting Field, but we all are aware of her positive influence at NAS Whiting Field and HT-18.
Ms. Eagen's introduction to NAS Whiting Field occurred because of her father, LCDR Ned Eagen. He was a Naval Aviator, who retired from the VT-2 Doer Birds in 1969. His impressive Naval career took him all over the world and he had the opportunity to fly many Naval aircraft. Ms. Paula had her father write a list of all of the Navy aircraft that he has flown. Today’s aviators are only afforded the opportunity to fly only a few aircraft.
Ms. Paula’s career began in 1978, nine years after her father’s retirement, when she started working in the Chaplain’s Office on base at NAS Whiting Field. In those days, the graduates of flight school received their wings in the Chaplain's Office. Ms. Paula later came over to H1-18 in 1988 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Curt B. Southwick. HT-18 in its 50 years has had 43 Commanding Officers and Ms. Paula has worked for 31 of them. She has provided guidance and assistance to three quarters of HT-18’s leadership. In addition to being a sounding board for leadership, she is also keeper of the Winging List. She oversees the master winging list for rotary wing aviation which dates back to 1944. Every two , she updates the master list with the names of the newly winged aviators. Every couple months, former aviators stop by her office to look up their name in the master files.
Ms. Paula has dedicated her life to government service with forty five years at NAS Whiting Field. She has seen the base and all of the commands go through many changes, but one thing remains the same, her steadfast loyalty to rotary wing aviation and to HT-18. Thank you for all you have done Ms. Paula, we appreciate you!
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 84 Squadron Updates
45 years of service awarded by CAPT Lepke, USN, Commodore, TRAWING 5
USS Nimitz Supporting Guam Relief Efforts with Helicopters and Communications
Originally published in Proceedings / USNI News June 2023
TheNimitz Carrier Strike Group was operating off the coast of Guam, providing support for disaster relief operations for the U.S. territory that was struck by Super Typhoon Marwa during May and June of this year, Navy officials told USNI News.
The Navy secured federal waivers for USS Nimitz (CVN 68) to serve as a communications and transmission hub for local authorities. Helicopters assigned to Carrier Air Wing 17 assisted civil authorities.
Guam wrestled with wide swaths of destruction from 140-mile-per-hour winds and 30-foot waves when Super Typhoon Marwa skirted across the U.S. territory from May 19 to June 3, 2023.
“Recovery from Typhoon Mawar is no quick feat,” Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said, according to Stars and Stripes. “It will take time and collaborative efforts from everyone in this community.”
As of Thursday, June 25, half of the island was still without power and only about half of the island’s water systems were operational.
Naval Base Guam may not get power fully restored for several weeks, Base Commander, CAPT Michael Luckett, said.
“It’s going to be a phased approach as we restore systems here. This is unfortunate, but it is our reality,” he said.
Typhoon Mawar, known in the Philippines as Super Typhoon Betty, was one of the strongest Northern Hemisphere tropical cyclones on record in the month of May, and the strongest tropical cyclone worldwide in 2023 so far.
In addition to the Nimitz CSG, the Air Force deployed a five-person Disaster Recovery Response Team from the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Natural Disaster Recovery Division based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., to support disaster relief efforts.
Sailor observes the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) from an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the ‘Screamin’ Indians’ of HSC-6 on May 30, 2023. US Navy Photo.
Influential Leadership Comes to South Whiting Field
By LT Sorcha Hartman, USN
In the fall of 1998 on the campus of Texas A&M University, Company H-1 was preparing for its 1st semester under the helm of H-1’s Commanding Officer, Cadet Matthew Kiser, ’99. The military class advisor was at the time, Major Eric Smith, ’87, now General Eric Smith, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. His influential leadership set the tone for Company H-1 that year and all members wanted to follow his example. TRAWING 5 was looking for a dynamic leader to inspire our young officers, so they invited General Smith to motivate our newly winged aviators on February 10th of this year and he did not disappoint. General Smith set high standards for his cadets at Texas A&M University and he did the same by challenging the new aviators to maintain high standards when they enter the Fleet. Many members of Company H-1 went on to serve in the United States Navy and Marine Corps, and four of them are currently serving in major leadership roles.
The Commanding Officer of Company H-1, CAPT Matthew Kiser, later on had the opportunity to lead the “Raptors” of HSM-71 and after completing Nuclear Power and Prototype Schools and was the Executive Officer of CVN 69, USS Eisenhower. He is currently the Commanding Officer of USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), the Navy’s only Joint Command Ship.
As part of the junior leadership class, CAPT Matthew Mulcahey, ’00, went on to serve as the Commanding Officer of VAQ-138, “Yellow Jackets,” and after his command tour he completed Nuclear Power and Prototype Schools. He is currently serving as the Executive Officer of USS Ford (CVN 78).
The sophomore cadre consisted of CDR Alex Buell, ’01, who is now a Professional Flight Instructor and is currently serving as the Officer-in-Charge of the Fleet Introduction Team for the TH-73, the Navy’s newest training rotary-wing aircraft. He is overseeing brand new aircraft being delivered from the factory to the Fleet.
As part of the freshman class, now CDR Dave Kiser, ’02, is currently the Commanding Officer of HT-18 at NAS Whiting Field. In this capacity, he is in charge of winging approximately 165 Naval Aviators every year from the United States Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and international students from Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Spain. At Whiting Field, 120,000 to 160,000 flight hours are executed every year encompassing 17% of all United States Naval flight hours, and according to some reports, this is the busiest airspace in the entire world.
These Officers are in their leadership roles because of the influence from General Smith. He left a lasting legacy on the members of Company H-1 at Texas A&M University and they are grateful for his actions as the Military Advisor. In addition, the newly winged aviators gained valuable leadership insight for them to take to the Fleet as they begin their careers. As a leader, General Smith led by example and he continues to lead Marines today in the same manner.
General Smith has been nominated to lead the Marines as the next Commandant of the Marine Corps.
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Transitioning to the TH-73 Thrasher
By LT Sorcha Hartman, USN
OnJuly 10, 2023, the first two conversion Instructor Pilots from Helicopter Training Squadron (HT) 18 began their transition from instructing in the TH-57B/C to the TH-73A. Their training will start with a ground phase of instruction in the systems and components specific to the TH-73A "Thrasher," and then cover a multitude of flights designed for instructing students in the various mission areas they can expect in the Fleet. The purpose of the conversion syllabus is to highlight the differences between the TH-57 and the TH-73 and prepare the new instructors to lead the conversion for the entire squadron.
HT-18 first began instructing students in 1972, and the current TH-57B was introduced in 1981 followed by the TH-57C model in 1982. The last TH-57 and very first TH-73A students at HT-18 are expected to start in September. This process has been years in the making. Initially, the Fleet Integration Team (FIT) and the Helicopter Instructor Training Unit (a dedicated detachment onboard NAS Whiting Field that trains all new rotary instructors assigned to HT-8, HT-18 and HT-28) paved the way by designing and validating the syllabi to train the first wave of Student Naval Aviators (SNAs). Helicopter Training Squadron 8 was the first squadron with qualified staff, and started the first twelve student naval aviators in September of 2022, some of whom earned their wings of gold in May of this year. Five PMT instructors from HT-18 began their transition to the TH-73 last year to augment HT-8’s conversion and help iron out the kinks. They will return to HT-18 and share what they have learned to improve the process.
Once complete with their advanced helicopter training, students move to fleet replacement squadrons (FRS). One of the benefits of training in the TH-73 will be a more seamless transition for students to the glass display cockpits utilized in the Fleet.
The transition to the TH-73 marks the culmination of the long and successful lifespan of the TH-57 as the aircraft is ‘sun-downed’ out of service. HT-18 reached 1 million flight hours in the TH-57 in March of 2005, and has flown hundreds of thousands of hours since, winging thousands of Naval Aviators. Every helicopter pilot currently in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard has flown the TH57. HT-18 commemorated the official beginning of this transition with a log book entry written by one of their students, 1st Lt. Alex McLaren, USMC.
Now This Ain’t No Sh*t – by Steve Letchworth
Reviewed by CDR Jen Evanko, USN (Ret.)
Any Navy helicopter pilot flying at North Island before 2012 remembers Steve “Letch” Letchworth as a HITS (Helicopter Instrument Training School) Instructor or as a Simulator Instructor for the H-46 and H-60S. As a student of his in the H-46 sims and eventually as his peer in the H-60S sims, I remember him with respect and fondness. We remember his sea stories, which he used extensively as instructional tools.
Many of his sea stories are now compiled in his memoir, which was published posthumously by his son, Dan. The title alludes to the comparison between a fairy tale and a sea story. Fairy tales always start with, “Once upon a time," while sea stories often begin with, “Now this ain’t no shit…” This is an appropriate title for a book of sea stories, a couple of which Letch admits are a bit embellished. This often happens with the passage of time.
Most interesting to me is the speed at which pilots went through flight school in the 1970s. Letch, for example, was winged less than one year after his first flight in the T-34B. Within a mere 12 months, he learned to fly the T-34B, T-28, TH-57, and the TH-1L. That’s a lot of EPs to learn in a short time! After earning his wings, he bypassed the RAG (Replacement Air Group), going VFR direct from Pensacola to his first duty station in Sigonella, Sicily, and learned the intricacies of the UH-2C and the HH-46A through on-the-job training (OJT). Things were different then, for sure. Letch tells of how things used to be in the days (and nights) not only before GPS, but also before Doppler Radar.
In addition to telling tales of close calls in the aircraft, Letch writes of the camaraderie that is such a big part of Naval Aviation. A chapter titled “The Great Cosmic Cat Caper” centers around his squadron’s drinking flag from HC-16 in Pensacola. Some VT-10 “lowlifes” stole it and demanded (through an official-looking Navy message) food and beer in ransom for the flag. Letch’s squadron mates weren’t about to give in, and they very creatively broke into the VT-10 spaces and stole the VT-10 mascot – a larger than life statue of their mascot, “Cosmic Cat.” Needless to say, the helo bubbas of HC-16 were successful in retrieving their drinking flag!
Letch’s book recounts the first 8 years of his 21-year flying career. My greatest criticism of this book is that it ends abruptly with a short chapter titled, “I Get to Become a VERTREP Pilot.” Clearly, he meant to write much more before his passing in 2019. I can only imagine the stories he could have written about his VERTREP days and beyond. Check it out! It’s always fun reading stories written by an old friend. You can borrow a copy from the NHA Library or purchase it through Amazon.
Notes about the author:
LCDR Steve Letchworth, USN (Ret.) graduated from Southern Methodist University. He was winged in 1974 following AOCS commissioning and VTs and HTs. His career spanned 20 years with fleet tours in the UH-2C, HH-46A, CH-46D and C-12 at NAF Sigonella, USS Cleveland, HC-16, HC-3, NAS Alameda, and NAS North Island. After his Navy retirement, he worked as a Ground School and Simulator Instructor in the CH-46D, MH-60S, and Helicopter Instrument Training School while an active member and lay minister in his church. CDR Letchworth passed away from cancer in 2014. His book was compiled and published from his notes by his son, Dan.
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Flight of the Intruder
Reviewed by LCDR Chip Lancaster, USN (Ret.)
Whilenot the best of Vietnam War films, it has its good and bad parts. I picked it for the aircraft carrier strike and CSAR content. The Flight of the Intruder Movie is based on the book by the same name written by distinguished and prolific author, Naval Aviator and Vietnam Grumman A-6 Intruder Pilot, Stephen Coonts.
It opens in South Vietnam on a single aircraft A-6 night bombing run. The ground fire is intense, and the BN (Bombardier Navigator) is hit. They make it back to their ship (USS Independence (CV 62)), but the BN is dead. The pilot, LT Jake Grafton, played by actor, Brad Johnson, is upset because his BN lost his life bombing the jungle on a poorly planned mission. He seems to have died for nothing, leaving Jake frustrated about the war and why they’re there. His CO, CDR Frank Camparelli, played by Danny Glover, tells Jake unceremoniously to snap out of it and removes him from the flight schedule to get his head back in the game.
NFO (Naval Flight Officer) LCDR Virgil Cole, played by Willem Dafoe, checks into the squadron. He’s a third-tour A-6 BN with a nonconformist reputation and specializes in Iron Hand SAM suppression with the Shrike Anti-Radar Missile.
After a quick trip to Cubi Point and back complete with some section flathatting, an in town bar fight, a night of romance, and a day on the beach, Jake and Virgil are back on the ship. Jake and Virgil are scheduled to fly an Iron Hand mission during which they knock out a couple of SAM sites and get chased by a MiG but manage to make it back to the boat. Jake gets the idea for a single plane bombing mission into Hanoi to take out the government headquarters. Hanoi is out of bounds since bombing North Vietnam was stopped due to peace talks. He even checks out maps of Vietnam from the ship’s library to plan his mission. He takes his plan to Virgil who tells him it is illegal and to forget about it until they see a newsreel that night showing NVA SAM sites with jubilant crews around what looks like a drop tank with their squadron stenciled on the side. Virgil is incensed by the newsreel, telling Jake that what they showed was the infamous SAM City and that he was now a go for Jake’s plan. Instead of bombing the Communist Party HQ, they’re going to bomb SAM City which is just next door.
They tag their personal mission onto the tail end of a bombing strike. The strike mission is close to the DMZ, so they’re able to side-step over to Hanoi for a successful strike on SAM City. When they get back to the boat, the CO is more than upset. The North Vietnamese have walked out of the peace talks because of their flight into Hanoi so he grounds them, confines them to quarters and recommends them for immediate court martial. Jake, Virgil, and the CO are flown back to Cubi where Seventh Fleet conducts the
court martial. They are convicted with punishment yet to be determined. However, the court martial is rescinded with their strike and the results are covered up via an increase in classification to “top secret.” President Nixon is so upset with the peace talk walk-out that he reauthorizes the bombing of North Vietnam since their unauthorized mission would be a huge embarrassment for the administration if they acknowledged it.
The film returns to the carrier with Jake and Virgil back on board though they are still grounded. An alpha strike is sent out to counter SAM and AAA for the B-52 bombing of North Vietnamese industry. The CO’s Intruder gets shot down in enemy territory and, unable to eject, he takes it in for a crash landing. The BN has been killed by the AAA fire, but the CO survives the landing. He is badly injured and surrounded by NVA troops and anti-aircraft ZSU-23s. The A-1 Sandies and a helicopter are inbound but won’t be able to make it with the ZSUs there. Our boys back on the boat are following the radio chatter in CIC, so they man-up a bomb-laden A-6 and take off to neutralize the ZSUs. They succeed but get shot down in the process.
This is where the CSAR action occurs. Do our boys and the skipper get picked up, and are Jake and Virgil to be assigned to Adak? It does not look good. To see how it all wraps up, you will have to see the flick (don’t cheat and google it). You can find it on Roku or in our NHA Library. We would love for you to come by and check it out. So, what about the movie, is it a watcher or a dud? If you can suspend your military beliefs and professionalism, then it is good for a look, if only to appreciate the actual aircraft carrier, below decks, and flight operations. It was supported enthusiastically by the Navy, letting them use actual ships (USS Independence CV-62 and USS Standley CG-32) and aircraft (although the A-1s were privately owned loaners). I’m going to give it one thumbs up and three out of five stars just for the actual Navy carrier action, although Danny Glover turns in a great, as always, performance and Willem Dafoe as a borderline psychotic is good too. So, get your popcorn and drink of choice and check it out. See if you can pick out the goof during the CSAR operation.
Congratulations to the next generation of Naval Aviation warfighters who received their Wings of Gold at NAS Whiting Field. These aviators will move to the Fleet to learn their designated platforms.
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators July 28, 2023
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators June 23, 2023
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 90
The guest speaker was CAPT Edgardo A. Moreno, USN Commanding Officer, Naval Aviation Schools Command
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators
The guest speaker was Col Aaron Brunk, USMC Commanding Officer, MATSG-21
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators
May 25, 2023
Guest speaker was CAPT Michael Weaver, USN Chief of Staff, U.S. 4th Fleet
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 92 Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators April 28, 2023
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators May 12, 2023
Guest Speaker was RDML Amy Bauernschmidt, USN
Guest speaker was CAPT Scott Fisher, USN (Ret.)
Congratulations to the New Naval Aviators
Guest speaker was CAPT Jeremy "Shed" Clark, USN Senior Leader at the Naval Rotary Wing Weapons School (SEAWOLF)
to the New Naval Aviators
Guest speaker was RADM Michael J. Steffen, USN Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 94 Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-2 July 18, 2023 Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-3 July 28, 2023
AWS3 Payton Contella,USN, AWS3 Nathan Devito,USN, AWS3 Joshua Ferguson, USN, AWS3 Daniel Hughes, USN, AWS3 Victor Popoca, USN, and AWS3 Tyler Sargent, USN
AWS3 Odorisio,USN, AWS3 Jackson,USN, AWS3 Hill,USN, and AWS3 Hudson, USN
to the New Aircrew of HSC-2 June 20, 2023
AWS3 Tanner Ward, USN, AWS3 William Springer, USN, AWS3 Matthew Spearin, USN, AWS3 Brett Chamberlain, USN, and AWS3 Kalen Nussbaumer, USN
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSM-40 June 14, 2023
AWR3 Cutillo, USN, AWR3 Gay, USN, AWR3 Dudas, USN, AWR3 Xayathone, USN, and AWR3 McCarter, USN
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 96
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-2 June 14, 2023
AWS3 Barfield, USN; AWS3 Jackson, USN, AWS3 Cox, USN, AWS3 Higley, USN, AWS3 Morahan, USN, AWS3 De La Garza, USN, and AWS3 Davidson, USN
AWR3 Harrison Ryan, USN, AWR3 Phillip Wilson,USN, AWR3 Dante Regalbuto, USN, AWR3 William Fontaine,USN, AWR3 Victor Gonzalez- Santiago,USN, and AWR3 Zariah Dayer, USN
to the New Aircrew of HSM-40 June 9, 2023
www.navalhelicopterassn.org 97 Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-3 May 25, 2023
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-2 May 10, 2023
AWS3 Altergott, USN, AWS3 Bryant, USN, AWS3 Difrancesco, USN, AWS3 Mcintyre, USN, and AWS3 Palmer, USN
AWS3 Rodriguez ,USN, AWS3 Kubat, USN, AWS3 Palmer, USN, AWS3 Pajazetovic, USN, AWS3 Radle, USN, and AWS3 Santos, USN
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 98 Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSM-40 March 10, 2023
Congratulations to the New Aircrew of HSC-3 April 28
AWS3 Adams,USN, AWS3 Benson,USN, AWS3 Callahan, USN, AWS3 Chase, USN, AWS3 Fornaciari, USN, AWS3 Gibbons, USN. AWS3 Lee, USN, AWS3 Miller, USN, AWS3 Mitchell, USN, AWS3 Novak, USN, AWS3 Pepple, USN, AWS3 Saleeby, USN, and AWS3 Vazquez-Audelo, USN
CAPT Dick Catone, USN (Ret.) following a memorial service for a fellow helicopter pilot, is credited with the following statement: “I guess we are all in the starboard delta waiting for Signal Charlie.” Starboard Delta is the holding pattern for the airborne Search and Rescue helicopters on the starboard (right) side of the aircraft carrier. They fly at a low altitude so as not to interfere with the fixed-wing aircraft recovery pattern, and only land when the last fixed-wing aircraft is safe on board. When tower calls the helicopter to pass “Charlie” to a landing spot, the crew knows the fixed-wing recovery is complete, all is well, and it is time to come back. Hence, the statement appears appropriate that someday we will receive our own “Signal Charlie” and will be called home for a final landing.
Signal Charlie has been created to inform our membership and honor the passing of fellow unrestricted aviators. It is only as good as the information we receive. If you have an obituary or other information that you would like to provide concerning the passing of a shipmate, co-worker, or friend of the community, please contact the NHA National Office at email@example.com and we will get the word out.
ChriseeArendt passed away on May 22 in his home in Annandale, VA. ENS Christopher P. Arendt, USN became a Naval Aviator on October 15, 1982 at HT-8, NAS Whiting Field, Milton, Florida. ENS Arendt was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-16850.
Chris achieved his childhood dream of becoming a Naval Aviator, serving 27 years in the United States Navy, retiring with the rank of Captain. He served in the DoD for an additional 14 years before retiring last June. Chris was a selfless leader, mentor, and manager, and is remembered by his colleagues for his humility and empathy, qualities which he often demonstrated through an affected gruff demeanor and always with a twinkle in his eye.
Chris was dearly loved. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Cindy; his two sons, Andrew (and wife Olivia) and Benjamin (and wife Gabrielle); and many loving family members and friends that he adored.
A funeral mass honoring Chris was held on Saturday, May 27 at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale, Virginia. Internment at Arlington National Cemetery will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to a charity of choice.
“Chip” Charles Nimmich Jr., 69, of Summerville, South Carolina, passed away peacefully on Friday, April 28, 2023.
ENS Nimmich became a Naval Aviator on April 7, 1978 at HT-18, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. ENS Nimmich was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator number R-14603.
A Memorial Service was held on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at Parks Funeral Home Chapel, in Summerville, S.C. Inurnment will be at The Citadel at a later date. Chip was born on March 6, 1954 in Summerville, S.C. and is the son of the late Dru and Mary Nimmich. He spent many years serving his country as a U.S. Navy Pilot. Along with his time in the U.S. Navy, Chip was a part of the Citadel Association. In his free time, he enjoyed building model aircrafts and spending time with his loved ones.
Chip is survived by his wife of 42 years, Stuart Nimmich of Summerville, S.C.; son, Drury C. Nimmich III of Summerville, S.C.; daughter, Claudia Gros of Summerville, and brothers, Mike Nimmich of Sumter, S.C., and Geoff Nimmich of Beaufort, S.C. He is predeceased by his parents, Dru and Mary Nimmich. In honor of Chip, memorials can be made to any animal shelter in the area.
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 100
CAPT Christopher P. Arendt, USN (Ret.)
CDR Drury “Chip” Charles Nimmich Jr., USN (Ret.)
Thomas R. Dean, USN became a Naval Aviator on July 15, 1970 at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. LTJG Dean is Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator Number R-11167. CDR Dean is NHA Lifetime Member #256.
Thomas Roger Dean, Commander U.S. Navy (retired), 75 of Stanardsville, VA, passed away on Sunday, April 23, 2023 at UVA Hospital after an extended illness. He was born in Conneautville, PA, on January 4, 1948, to the late Jack McCall Dean and Shirley Rogers Dean. He was also preceded in death by his daughter, Rachel A. Dean.
He is survived by his wife, Laurie M. Dean; brother, Robert E. Dean and wife Kathleen of Sharpsville, PA; sister, Laura A. Dean of Athens, GA; sister-in-law, Harriet M. Perry and husband Edward of Ocean Springs, MS; nephew Alex Perry and wife Kumi of Ocean Springs, MS; niece Katie Dean Breit, husband Dave of Sharpsville, PA, and great-nephews Lincoln and Westin.
Tom was a graduate of Conneaut Valley High School and Penn State University, where he was in Naval ROTC. Along the way, he also earned a master’s degree from George Washington University. After Penn State and flight school in Pensacola, FL, where he met Laurie, he had a distinguished career as a helicopter pilot and administrator, serving in Annapolis, Norfolk, Pensacola, Italy, Greece, and England before his retirement after 23 years of service. He was a Lifetime Member of the Naval Helicopter Association. After retirement from the Navy, he worked in computer technology for a number of years, and they moved to Stanardsville, where he was active in local civic organizations including Ruritans and STAR (Stanardsville Area Revitalization, a public-private partnership dedicated to restoring the vitality of the town). He loved travel, history, Stanardsville, Spring Oak Farm and his tractors, and good food, drink, and conversation.
A graveside service was held on Saturday, April 29, 2023 at the cemetery at Spring Oak Farm in Stanardsville, VA, with Rev. Erl “Puck” Purnell officiating. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be directed to *STAR*, P.O. Box 838, Stanardsville, VA 22973 (or online at http://www.stargreene.org/donate/ ).
ENSRobert C. Haas became a Naval Aviator on January 11, 1975 at HT-18, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. ENS Haas was Navy Helicopter Designator Number R-13279.
Loving husband, father, and grandfather, Robert (Bob) C. Haas, of Yorktown, Virginia, while resting peacefully, entered fully into the presence of the Lord on Friday, April 21, 2023.
He was 71. He joins his parents Cletus and Agnes Haas of Cincinnati Ohio, and his brother David Haas, of Cincinnati, Ohio in the next life.
He is survived by his wife Pam, his sons Rob (Lori) of Yorktown and Andrew of Norfolk, and his granddaughter Diana. He is also survived by his siblings John (Peggy) Haas, Mary Ann Nead (Bill), Kathy Ruschman (Bill), and Dan (Kim) Haas and sister-in-law, Jane Haas.
Bob served in the U.S. Navy first as a helicopter pilot, flight instructor and service warfare officer. He retired after 24 years of service with the rank of Captain. He then went on to serve the Newport News School System before retiring. Bob loved to travel to visit family and friends. He enjoyed riding his motorcycles and furthering his knowledge of U.S. history by exploring the local area. Bob touched many lives in his community by volunteering with the York County Ruritan Club, Knights of Columbus, the Newport News USO and at St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Parish in Newport News. If you would like to make a donation in lieu of flowers, please send to the St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic Church (230 33rd St. Newport News VA 23607).
CDR Thomas Roger Dean, USN (Ret.)
CAPT Robert (Bob) C. Haas, USN (Ret.)
Ed Berry became a Naval Aviator on September 19, 1975 at HT-18, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Florida. ENS Berry was Navy Helicopter Designator Number R-13611
CDR Edmund William Berry, USN, (Ret.) left for his final duty station on Wednesday, the 26th of April, 2023. He is survived by his wife, Nancy; his brothers, Dan, Tim, and Joe; his sister Ann; two daughters, Ann and Emily, and four grandchildren, who have learned over the years to appreciate his quick sense of humor, his fun-loving personality, and his love of good Irish whiskey.
Born to a Marine Corps pilot and a first-generation Irish immigrant in Cherry Point, North Carolina, Ed grew up with a love of the outdoors that continued throughout his life. He hunted, fished, and boated whenever he had the chance— until he discovered the greatest sport of all time: golf. When Uncle Sam came calling during the Vietnam War, he signed up to join the Navy based on the promise he could fly. Twenty-two years and a master’s degree later, he had not only flown, but had taught others to fly, influenced national security decision making, and become an adjunct professor of same through the Naval War College.
After he retired in 1994, Ed followed his wife’s career back to Pensacola where their love story began so many years prior and took up substitute teaching and volunteer work to fill his days in meaningful ways. Through Civitan International and church service, he touched the lives of countless local families. He enriched the choir of St. Jude Thaddeus Church every Sunday by picking up as many harmonies as he could with his rich voice, strong in the belief that making a joyful noise unto the Lord was the best form of worship.
Ed was the life of every party he attended and was renowned for his smoked meats and baking prowess. His passionate and playful approach to life helped him build powerful bonds with his grandchildren, who have always been his biggest fans. His stories kept everyone around him laughing even as he lost his twenty-one month battle with pancreatic cancer. He will always be remembered as the embodiment of the saying “love conquers all.”
Visitation will be at Faith Chapel North Funeral Home in Cantonment, FL from 5-7 PM on Thursday, May 4th. A funeral Mass was said at St. Jude Thaddeus Church on Friday, May 5th followed by a graveside service at Barrancas National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that you contribute to the charity of your choice in Ed’s name. Many of you may want to send a sympathy card Mrs Nancy Berry, 1933 Filly Road, Cantonment, FL 32533.
Stephen Jack Farrell, age 70 of rural Morenci, passed away peacefully in his home on Sunday, July 9, 2023. He was born in Sarasota, FL on December 15, 1952 to Jerry and Marilynn Farrell. Upon graduation from West Springfield High School in Virginia, he entered the United States Navy, where he faithfully served his country for 4 years. He was a millwright and owned Steve’s Grain Dryer Service for many years.
Surviving are daughter, Katie Farrell; grandchildren, Lilly and Diesil Stoykoff; and brothers, Mike (Winnie) Ballinger and Mike Farrell. He was preceded in death by his parents and a son, Daniel Farrell.
According to Stephen’s wishes, cremation will take place. Inurnment of his remains took place on Saturday, July 22, 2023, at Oak Grove Cemetery in Morenci. A Celebration of Life luncheon was held at the Wauseon VFW Post 7424.
Online condolences to the family may be offered at www.eaglemarryfuneralhome.com. Monetary contributions can be given to the family for future designation. The Eagle-Marry Funeral Home in Morenci is assisting the family with arrangements. Fair Winds and Following Seas Mr. Farrell
Rotor Review #161 Summer '23 102
CDR Edmund W. Berry, USN (Ret.)
AMS2 Stephen Jack Farrell, USN (Former)
ENSWiliam Reed became a Naval Aviator on February 19, 1971 at HT-8, NAS Ellyson Field, Pensacola, Fl. ENS Reed was Navy Helicopter Pilot Designator #R11449.
CDR William Scott Reed, Jr., USN (Ret.) was born on June 24, 1947 in Lancaster, PA to the late William Reed, Sr. and Ann Mae Gross Barker. Bill grew up in Red Lion, PA where he was a Scholar Athlete. He graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 1969 with a BS in Business Logistics. He completed an MS in Business Administration at Golden Gate University in 1984 and an MS in Education at Old Dominion University in 1995. He attended the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
Bill enlisted in the U.S. Navy / Ready Reserves in Dec. 1968, and completed Officer Candidate School in 1969, and Flight School at Pensacola, FL in 1971 where he received his “wings of gold.” Over a 23-year military career, he served as a helicopter pilot, flight instructor and administrator in various squadrons and duty stations: HC-6, HSL-30, HSL-34, and the Naval Military Personnel Command. He completed his military career at the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk VA with tours as a faculty member and retired as the Executive Officer of the facility in 1992.
In 1995 Bill began his second career as an Elementary Teacher in the Chesapeake Public Schools System. He spent those years at Carver Elementary and Truitt Intermediate where he was the Teacher of the Year for 2002. He retired from teaching school in 2013.
Bill passed away Thursday, July 27, 2023, lovingly surrounded by family, after a courageous 8-year battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Kathryn Clarke Reed, his children Jonathan and Amanda, his sister and brother-in-law Barbara Jane and Charles “Nicky’ Seitz, his loving in-laws and ‘outlaws’ Roger Cackovic, Joe and Julie Smith, Billy Clarke, Tom Clarke and Justine, Mary and Bob Brown, 25 nieces and nephews and his fur babies Cora and Bailey. He was preceded in death by his parents, his stepparents Helen Reed and Roy Barker, his mother and father-in-law Mary and Bill Clarke his sister-in-law Alice Cackovic and brother-in-law Gene Clarke.
Services are pending at Hickory United Methodist Church. Burial with full Military Honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a date to be announced. Bill lived a full life and gave fully to those in need. His last act was to participate in a clinical trial to find a cure for advanced prostate cancer. He had requested that memorial donations be made to your favorite animal shelter or Veterans charity.
Fair Winds and Following Seas
CDR William Scott Reed, Jr., USN (Ret.)
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