By Naval Air Force Pacific Public Affairs
Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Pacific hosted a sundown ceremony for the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter in Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 73’s hangar at Naval Air Station North Island, Coronado, California, May 11.
Active duty service members, retirees, and visitors were in attendance as leadership from the helicopter community provided remarks regarding the SH-60B’s 30 years of active service in the fleet.
The ceremony’s guest speaker, Vice Adm. Paul A. Grosklags, principal military deputy, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisitions, reflected on the life of the aircraft.
“In the ,80s and ,90s, when we often didn’t have an aircraft carrier in the Arabian Gulf, that surface combatant with its one or two embarked SH-60s were the eyes and ears of the fleet and our nation in that very volatile and challenging part of the world,” said Grosklags. “In the ,90s and the 2000s, when humanitarian missions arose, whether in our own backyard such as Haiti, or on the other side of the world in the Philippines, Indonesia or Japan, there was always an SH-60B on scene.”
The SH-60B joined the operational fleet in 1985 when the aircraft made its initial deployment with a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 43 detachment aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37).
Since joining the fleet, the aircraft has completed more than 3.6 million flight hours in support of operations and training.
The last active-duty SH-60B detachment, which was a detachment from HSM-49 at Naval Air Station North Island, returned from a seven-month deployment aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Gary (FFG 51) to the U.S. 4th and 3rd Fleet area of operations April 17.
“We are here today to salute the SH-60B as it departs our flight lines,” said Grosklags. “But in the end, this community has not been just about the aircraft, it’s really been all about the people—that aircrewman delivering the water, the pilots flying that aircraft and certainly the maintenance professionals making sure the aircraft was available and ready to fly.”
The ceremony concluded after an SH-60B and an MH-60R Seahawk conducted a fly-by of HSM-73’s hangar to represent a change of watch for the aircraft.
The SH-60B is being replaced by the MH-60R, which is capable of executing the same missions as the SH-60B, but with significant advancements in mission systems that dramatically enhances its effectiveness. MH-60R aircraft carry out various missions including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, vertical replenishment, search and rescue, humanitarian relief and medical evacuation.