HSC-5 SQUADRON HISTORY
The HSC-5 “World Famous Nightdippers” are part of Carrier Air Wing SEVEN assigned to USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72). The Nightdippers most recently transitioned from two variants of the H-60 "Seahawk" helicopter designated as HH-60H and SH-60F to a new and third variant designated as MH-60S. The MH-60S's primary missions are Search and Rescue, Naval Special Warfare Support and Anti-Surface Warfare. Additional missions include logistic support, vertical replenishment, medical evacuation, non-combatant evacuation operations, and maritime interdiction operations.
Commissioned at NAS Key West, FL, on January 3rd 1956, HS-5 flew the HSS-1N helicopter with a primary mission to deny effective enemy use of submarines against air or surface targets. Later test and evaluation proved that over water, night operations without visual reference were viable for around-the-clock, all-weather ASW operations. Due to this trailblazing effort with submersible sonar-equipped helicopters that HS-5 acquired the name "Nightdippers.”
Assigned to Carrier Antisubmarine Air Group Fifty-Four in 1959, HS-5 moved to NAS Quonset Point, RI where they completed several ASW deployments and participated in two Mercury spacecraft recoveries including America’s first astronaut, CDR Allen B. Shepard. In 1963, HS-5 transitioned to the SH-3A "Sea King,” the first twin jet-turbine helicopter and was permanently assigned to Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7), where they conducted missions aboard USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62) and USS DWIGHT D. EISNEHOWER (CVN 69). In 1986, extended turnaround-training involved operations on four aircraft carriers: USS CORAL SEA (CV 43), USS SARATOGA (CV 60), USS NIMITZ (CVN 68), and USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71).
In July 1992, HS-5 and CVW-7 were assigned to USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) and transited through the Suez Canal to the Arabian Gulf twice, first to participate in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and again to counter Iraqi aggression near the Kuwaiti border in Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR. During the deployment, HS-5 surpassed 14 years and 44,000 hours of mishap-free flying. In February of 1995 HS-5 transitioned to the H-60 "Seahawk" and joined Carrier Air Wing SEVEN in support of NATO's Operation DECISIVE ENDEAVOR. Between 1992 and 2009, HS-5 received the Admiral Thach Award five times and the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E” in 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, and 2005-2010. They also received the Isbell Trophy for ASW Excellence in 2006, 2011, and 2012.
In 2005, HS-5 participated in the massive Hurricane Katrina relief effort and rescued 41 people and delivered 14,860 pounds of food and water to hurricane victims. From January to July 2009, HS-5 deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Seven months later, HS-5 again deployed aboard CVN-69 and on the first night aboard launched the alert aircraft and expeditiously conducted a long-range open ocean rescue in perilous weather conditions; they also later recovered three survivors from an E-2C Hawkeye forced to ditch in the North Arabian Sea. While deployed the squadron’s homeport officially changed to NS Norfolk, VA.
HS-5 began their most recent deployment work-up cycle with a Helicopter Advanced Readiness Program (HARP) in May 2011, including detachments to NAS Jacksonville, FL and AUTEC on Andros Island, Bahamas. The squadron successfully conducted ten exercise torpedo shots and six Hellfire missile shots at AUTEC. In September, the Nightdippers embarked again on CVN 69 supporting Fleet Replacement Squadron carrier qualifications. They completed over 50 sorties totaling more than 140 hours. In October, the squadron took part in Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA) where they completed more than 70 sorties, flew nearly 200 hours. Their training opportunities and tactical readiness earned HS-5 the Isbell Trophy for ASW/ASU Excellence in 2011. In January of 2012, HS-5 attended Air Wing Fallon (AWF) at NAS Fallon, NV where the squadron logged 126 sorties and over 280 hours in the mountainous, high altitude environment. The squadron trained to the following missions: Combat Search and Rescue, Aerial Gunnery, Heliborne Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure, Moving Vehicle Targeting, and Special Operations Forces Escort. Additionally, the Nightdippers executed numerous Close Air Support missions in coordination with student Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, expending over 11,000 rounds of 7.62 mm and .50 caliber ammunition and successfully launching three Hellfire missiles.
In June of 2012, HS-5 and CVW-7 deployed with Carrier Strike Group EIGHT (CSG-8) aboard CVN 69, receiving the EAWS Pennant, signifying 75% of the command as Aviation Warfare qualified. Twelve days into the deployment, HS-5 successfully rescued a French Rafale pilot who ejected in the Mediterranean Sea and returned him to the French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle. Over the six month deployment, HS-5 flew 693 sorties, totaling 1,877 hours and 643 night hours, including 54 hours of ASUW training, 78 hours of ASW training, 29 hours of NSW training, 130 hours of Strike training, and 85 hours of functional check flights. Due to an unpredicted status change, HS-5 returned home for two months before deploying again with CVN-69 until July 2013. Two months into the second deployment, HS-5 successfully rescued two American Naval Aviators who ejected from their F/A-18F in the Persian Gulf.
In 2012, HS-5 received the Blue “M” for medical readiness and the Fiscal Year 2012 Retention Excellence Award. Upon return to homeport, HS-5 began its transition to the new MH-60S platform as part of the Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) community. In January 2014, HS-5 successfully transitioned to HSC-5. The Nightdippers were recently awarded the 2013 Battle Efficiency Award for demonstrating the hightest state of battle readiness over the past year.
In May 2015 HSC-5 had its first Change of Command ceremony as an HSC squadron. In June 2015 HSC-5 continued their deployment work-up cycle with Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7) and Carrier Strike Group EIGHT (CSG-8) in support of USS HARRY S. TRUMAN’S (CVN 75) Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA). Following TSTA, the squadron continued the work up cycle with Air Wing Fallon and then returned to USS HARRY S. TRUMAN for Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) where the final preparations were completed prior to deployment.
In November 2015 HSC-5 began their eight month combat deployment. While on deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility, the Nightdippers flawlessly maintained maritime operations in support of Carrier Strike Group EIGHT’s mission requirements, successfully executed their first Navy dedicated Combat Search and Rescue detachment in more than 40 years, recovered four isolated coalition service members and returned 10 U.S. Sailors to U.S. protection . The Nightdippers surpassed a total of 57,500 flight hours and 22 years free of Class “A” mishaps, expended more than 95,000 .50 caliber rounds, 79,000 7.62 rounds, 13 Air to Ground HELLFIRE missiles and transported more than 200 tons of cargo and more than 550 passengers. HSC-5 also received the Captain Arnold J. Isbell Trophy, Blue “M” and the Retention Excellence Awards for fiscal year 2015.
In July 2016, HSC-5 returned to Naval Station Norfolk after an eight month combat deployment in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. In October, HSC-5 provided two mission capable aircraft to USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) to support Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief efforts during Hurricane Matthew as well as two aircraft to Carrier Strike Group TWELVE (CSG-12) in support of Fleet Week Baltimore 2016. HSC-5 also received Fiscal Year 2016 Retention Excellence Award, Aviation Battle of Efficiency Award, Blue "M" Award, Calendar Year 2016 RADM James "Jig Dog" Ramage Award and the Association of Naval Aviation Helicopter Aviation award.
In February 2017, HSC-5 provided four mission capable aircraft to the Air Force Special Operations Command in support of exercise EMERALD WARRIOR and in May, HSC-5 provided four aircraft to CSG-12 in support of Fleet Week New York. In July, HSC-5 led the way as usual by being the first squadron to land an aircraft on our nation’s newest aircraft carrier USS GERALD R. FORD (CVN 78). In September, HSC-5 providing four mission capable aircraft to the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) to support Humanitarian Aid/Disaster Relief efforts during Hurricane Irma.
In 2018, HSC-5 began its' work-ups for the 2019 deployment. In June, the squadron completed the Helicopter Advance Readiness Program (HARP) detachment to the Advanced Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) as well as NAS Jacksonville. From July to August, the squadron embarked onboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) and completed TSTA. The squadron detached to NAS Fallon, NV from September to October in support of CVW-7's Air Wing Fallon exercise. Additionally, the squadron completed three carrier qualification detachments onboard the USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) as well as a Special Operations support training detachment to the Muscatatuck Urban Training Complex (MUTC).
In January 2019, the squadron embarked onboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72) and completed CSG-12's COMPTUEX. During this time, the squadron also maintained a land-based detachment at NS Mayport to support Combat Search and Rescue training. The World Famous Nightdippers are ready to deploy and defend freedom.
HSC-5 continues to demonstrate professional excellence and remains true to their motto:
“We Rescue; We Protect; We Deliver."