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News | May 17, 2022

Saberhawks Earn Phoenix Award for Superior Maintenance

By Lt.Cmdr. Joseph Keiley, Commander, Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5

ATSUGI, Japan—The “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 were awarded the Secretary of Defense’s Phoenix Award at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, March 3. Top commands from the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force compete annually for the award that celebrates maintenance performance excellence.

According to DOD Instruction 1348.30, the award recognizes maintenance operations and accomplishments at the unit and program levels. Award categories include small, medium and large commands with two commands in each category able to win the award.

“It is incredibly humbling to have the good fortune to work alongside so many talented individuals,” said Cmdr. Nicholas Cunningham, HSM-77 commanding officer. “That their efforts through the pandemic and double-pump deployments are recognized through the awarding of the Phoenix Award brings a tremendous sense of pride to the Saberhawks.”

HSM-77 was judged in several criteria including effective use of maintenance resources, innovative management accomplishment, personal quality-of-life programs and mission accomplishment.

“Despite the challenges that everyone across the Navy and Marine Corps faced during 2020, the Saberhawks were able to consistently complete all operational tasking while deployed for 270 days. The maintenance leadership managed personnel qualifications, aircraft maintenance schedules and worldwide supply logistics hurdles while disaggregated across two ships to exceed CNAF operational and material readiness standards,” said Lt. Cmdr. Haylee Coffee, HSM-77 maintenance officer. “The diligence and the dedication of the sailors assigned to HSM-77 continues to ensure that the Saberhawks are always ready to overcome the challenges faced in the FDNF environment in order to complete tasking in a professional and expeditious manner.”

With effective use of maintenance, personnel and financial resources, combined with an all-hands approach, the squadron has developed into a highly efficient maintenance team, and their reception of the Phoenix Award is proof that their performance exceeds standards.

HSM-77 is forward-deployed to the U.S. Seventh Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability and a free and open Indo-Pacific. 

Written by Lt.Cmdr. Joseph Keiley, Commander, Task Force 70/Carrier Strike Group 5.