Squadron Spotlight

Squadron photo

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46 “Grandmasters”

Established: April 7, 1988

Based: Naval Air Station Mayport, Florida

Current Commanding Officer: Cmdr. Chris A. Richard

Mission: Surface Warfare (ASUW), Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Command and Control (C2), Search and Rescue (SAR)

Brief History: The title “Grandmaster” is bestowed on those who achieve international standing in the game of chess through demonstrated tactical expertise and precision execution. The professionals of HSM-46 are dedicated to those same ideals, and they possess the same commitment to excellence—thus, the squadron’s moniker and its insignia.

Since its establishment in 1988 as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 46, when its crews flew the venerable SH-60B Seahawk helicopter, the Grandmasters remain the longest standing Expeditionary HSM squadron on the East Coast. In 2012, the squadron was re-designated HSM-46 when it transitioned to the state-of-the-art MH-60R Seahawk. HSM-46 currently deploys up to six detachments aboard Atlantic Fleet ships in support of Combatant Commander requirements around the world.

MH-60R employment draws from the model established by the Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS) program and its Mk I (SH-2 Seasprite) and Mk III (SH-60B Seahawk) predecessors. It is designed to combine the capabilities of cruiser-destroyer sensors with those of the helicopter to provide early detection, prosecution and engagement of enemy surface and subsurface contacts. The Grandmasters continually push the MH-60R to its operational limits, taking full advantage of its diversified and specialized combat capabilities.

In 2010, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, HSL-46 flew out of Port-au-Prince International Airport and from USS Normandy (CG 60) distributing relief supplies across the Haitian countryside. Crews transported 58 people to shore-side medical facilities.

In a 2014 deployment aboard USS Halyburton (FFG 40), HSM-46 received a distress call from a downed Panamanian helicopter and conducted a night search-and-rescue operation deep in the Panamanian jungle; working alongside Panamanian assets, HSM-46 extracted six wounded from the crash site. In 2015, while transiting the Straits of Gibraltar, an HSM-46 aircraft was conducting a surface search, surveillance and control mission from Normandy when the aircrew discovered a rigid hull inflatable boat involved in illicit-trafficking. The Normandy recovered more than 1,200 pounds of heroin that was valued at more than $111 million.

HSM-46 has repeatedly demonstrated its tactical expertise and its value in the deployed maritime environment. Whether supporting the carrier strike group (CSG) or flying from small ships in the littorals, the men and women of HSM-46 will continue to “set the standard” like generations of Grandmasters before them.

Aircraft Flown: MH-60R

Number of People in Unit: 258 military personnel

Significant Accomplishments:

  • First East Coast HSM expeditionary squadron to provide sole HSL/HSM support to a deployed CSG—USS Theodore Roosevelt CSG 2015-2016
  • Nine Battle “E” awards
  • Seven “Golden Wrench” awards
  • 2016 Arnold J. Isbell Trophy for ASW/ASUW Excellence
  • 2016 CNO Aviation Safety Award
  • 2016 Retention Excellence Award