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Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

CVW-7’s HSC-5 Conducts Inland River Rescue Training with Elements of the West Virginia National Guard

by From Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs
21 October 2020 Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 the “World Famous Nightdippers” based out of Naval Station (NS) Norfolk are conducting a myriad of training opportunities to include a multi-day water survival and rescue training opportunity with elements of the West Virginia National Guard in the Appalachian Mountains, Oct. 19-30.

Some of the additional training HSC-5 pilots and aircrew will be conducting include training for Special Operations missions, Close Air Support, and Personnel Recovery to include the inland river rescue and Combat Search and Rescue integration.

During the training opportunity, first responders from the West Virginia National Guard will leverage their water rescue knowledge base and share common experiences with U.S. Navy pilots and aircrew from HSC-5.
HSC-5 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Chandra Newman discussed the valuable training for all hands involved.

“Search and Rescue is a core mission for HSC, so any chance to enhance and hone our skills in the Fleet is valuable training for all hands,” said Newman, who added that the HSC-5 detachment will be focusing on tactical readiness for pilot and aircrew advanced qualifications.

“The training ground in West Virginia provides opportunity not readily available in the local Hampton Roads area. The close proximity of the operating areas from Yeager airport make an efficient use of the resources for dedicated time in the terminal area in an environment best suited to meet our training needs,” said Newman.

Cmdr. Tom Van Hoozer, executive officer, HSC-5 discussed the benefits of training with our service partners.

“Our squadron brings years of experience gained from conducting high-water rescues and open ocean rescues to this training and we look forward to learning from our West Virginia National Guard counterparts,” said Van Hoozer.
"We are truly excited to get to operate with the U.S. Navy and HSC-5 to conduct this level of joint forces training," said Col. Walter "Wally" Hatfield, WVNG J3 Director of Joint Operations, who added that this type of training provides Navy pilots and aircrew a unique opportunity to work in an inland riverine environment.

"Having this type of opportunity to work with our Navy partners helps to prove and validate the operational capabilities of our swift water rescue team while working in a joint environment, just as we would be doing should we be tasked to deploy to a disaster area,” said Hatfield. “It's a win-win for everyone and a model we hope to carry forward."

This type of training befits the squadron’s mission statement, which is to “Rescue, Protect, and Deliver”.

HSC-5 is conducting training in the same location as HSC-9 the “Tridents”.  HSC-9 conducted unit-level training in late September, but did not have an opportunity to train with elements of the West National Guard.

The training area provides HSC squadrons with access to include the surface coalmine sites that provide anywhere from several thousand acres up to over 25,000 acres for training.

Capt. Nathan Ballou, Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, discussed the inherent benefit of training with inter-service partners.

“There is a great deal of interoperability and information exchanges that our forces can gain from training together in this type of environment and the support received from the West Virginia National Guard has been outstanding,” said Ballou, who visited the training area to see firsthand the quality and benefit gained from joint engagements. “In addition to the integration with other services, during this detachment the Nightdippers will execute unit level training on 90 different evolutions gaining currency, qualifications and proficiency for their aircrew and maintainers that increase the mission effectiveness and readiness of the entire Air Wing.”

Many of the skills learned in this training are transferable to other mission areas such as Defense Support of Civilian Authorities (DSCA), Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Recovery (HA/DR), Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), and Non-Combatant Evacuation Operation (NEO).

“The intent of this training is to produce experienced and qualified aircrews ready to meet all mission areas assigned to HSC and increase the greater force lethality for combat operations or humanitarian needs worldwide,” said Newman.
 
 
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