The Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 “Spartans” celebrated their 10th anniversary, since commissioning in 2009, at Naval Air Station Jacksonville Feb. 14.
The event kicked off with HSM-70 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Kenneth Colman praising the Spartan team.
“On Feb. 9, 2009, 22 officers, 23 chief petty officers, and 152 Sailors, totaling 207 “Spartans” established Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 at NAS Jacksonville,” said Colman. “They were also the first squadron to begin the transition from a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light to HSM and introduced the air-wing squadron model to the east coast. The Spartans have deployed around the world supporting major campaigns such as Operation New Dawn, Operation Enduring Freedom in the Arabian Sea, counter-piracy and smuggling operations off the Horn of Africa, and theater cooperation operations with Turkey, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Georgia in the Black Sea.”
“In March 2014, HSM-70.4 embarked aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt, was tasked to locate and track a Libyan flagged commercial oil tanker with 21 crew members taken hostage,” he continued. “Squadron personnel and Naval Special Warfare Unit 2 configured the helicopter to support operations while the Seal Team rescued the hostages and took hijackers into custody.”
Over its brief history, Spartans have completed 16,543 operational and training sorties amassing nearly 42,000 flight hours and expended 367,862 pieces of ordnance,” said Colman. “All these successes are made possible by our people who are working hard, displaying pride and professionalism of service to the squadron, Navy and country.”
Colman then introduced the guest speaker, Capt. Mike Weaver, commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing, Atlantic.
“Spartan history is truly impressive and one can only be excited about its future. You have a great reputation and are doing an amazing job,” said Weaver. “This platform is a model for the Naval Aviation Enterprise. What makes our community unique are the professionals that fill its ranks. Only in HSM can aircraft deploy, fly more hours than any other squadron, and return in better material condition than they left. That’s just amazing.”
HSM-70 employs the MH-60R “Seahawk” multi-mission helicopter to continuously provide an updated surface picture to the strike group commander, enabling informed decision-making within the battle space. Additionally, HSM-70 serves as the strike group’s only organic submarine defense asset capable of locating, tracking, and destroying subsurface threats. As a secondary mission, HSM-70 has the ability to conduct electronic surveillance and gather intelligence and can perform non-combat operations including vertical replenishments and logistics.
The Spartan’s maiden deployment took place between May-December 2011 aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) and included detachments of aircraft, pilots, aircrewmen, and maintainers embarked aboard USS Gettysburg (CG 64), USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and USS Philippine Sea (CG-58). While deployed, the squadron conducted operations in support of Operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom.
The squadron’s second deployment was between February-November, 2014 also aboard USS George H.W. Bush with detachments on Carrier Strike Group 2 (CSG-2) ships and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80). Over the course of the deployment, the Spartans flew over 6,700 flight hours, primarily in the surface warfare (SUW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) roles operating in the Arabian Gulf supporting combat operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Most recently, HSM-70 deployed again with CSG-2 ships including USS Hue City (CG 66), between January-August, 2017. While deployed, squadron personnel supported Operation Inherent Resolve from the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf, performing SUW and ASW roles and participating in joint exercise Saxon Warrior with the Royal Navy and her newest flagship, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08).
Currently, HSM-70 Detachment 1 pilots, aircrewmen, and maintainers are embarked aboard Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 flagship USS Gravely (DDG 107) executing operations in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.
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