HSC-5 Nightdippers Squadron Patch – Sew On
HSC-5 SQUADRON HISTORY
The HSC-5 “World Famous Nightdippers” are part of Carrier Air Wing SEVEN assigned to USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69). The Nightdippers most recently transitioned from two variants of the H-60 “Seahawk” helicopter designated as HH-60H and SH-60F to a new and third variant designated as MH-60S. The MH-60S’s primary missions are Search and Rescue, Naval Special Warfare Support and Anti-Surface Warfare. Additional missions include logistic support, vertical replenishment, medical evacuation, non-combatant evacuation operations, and maritime interdiction operations.
Commissioned at NAS Key West, FL, on January 3rd 1956, HS-5 flew the HSS-1N helicopter with a primary mission to deny effective enemy use of submarines against air or surface targets. Later test and evaluation proved that over water, night operations without visual reference were viable for around-the-clock, all-weather ASW operations. Due to this trailblazing effort with submersible sonar-equipped helicopters that HS-5 acquired the name “Nightdippers.”
Assigned to Carrier Antisubmarine Air Group Fifty-Four in 1959, HS-5 moved to NAS Quonset Point, RI where they completed several ASW deployments and participated in two Mercury spacecraft recoveries including America’s first astronaut, CDR Allen B. Shepard. In 1963, HS-5 transitioned to the SH-3A “Sea King,” the first twin jet-turbine helicopter and was permanently assigned to Carrier Air Wing SEVEN (CVW-7), where they conducted missions aboard USS INDEPENDENCE (CV-62) and USS DWIGHT D. EISNEHOWER (CVN 69). In 1986, extended turnaround-training involved operations on four aircraft carriers: USS CORAL SEA (CV 43), USS SARATOGA (CV 60), USS NIMITZ (CVN 68), and USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71).
In July 1992, HS-5 and CVW-7 were assigned to USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) and transited through the Suez Canal to the Arabian Gulf twice, first to participate in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and again to counter Iraqi aggression near the Kuwaiti border in Operation VIGILANT WARRIOR. During the deployment, HS-5 surpassed 14 years and 44,000 hours of mishap-free flying. In February of 1995 HS-5 transitioned to the H-60 “Seahawk” and joined Carrier Air Wing SEVEN in support of NATO’s Operation DECISIVE ENDEAVOR. Between 1992 and 2009, HS-5 received the Admiral Thach Award five times and the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E” in 1992, 1995, 2000, 2002, and 2005-2010. They also received the Isbell Trophy for ASW Excellence in 2006, 2011, and 2012.
In 2005, HS-5 participated in the massive Hurricane Katrina relief effort and rescued 41 people and delivered 14,860 pounds of food and water to hurricane victims. From January to July 2009, HS-5 deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Seven months later, HS-5 again deployed aboard CVN-69 and on the first night aboard launched the alert aircraft and expeditiously conducted a long-range open ocean rescue in perilous weather conditions; they also later recovered three survivors from an E-2C Hawkeye forced to ditch in the North Arabian Sea. While deployed the squadron’s homeport officially changed to NS Norfolk, VA.
HS-5 began their most recent deployment work-up cycle with a Helicopter Advanced Readiness Program (HARP) in May 2011, including detachments to NAS Jacksonville, FL and AUTEC on Andros Island, Bahamas. The squadron successfully conducted ten exercise torpedo shots and six Hellfire missile shots at AUTEC. In September, the Nightdippers embarked again on CVN 69 supporting Fleet Replacement Squadron carrier qualifications. They completed over 50 sorties totaling more than 140 hours. In October, the squadron took part in Tailored Ship’s Training Availability (TSTA) where they completed more than 70 sorties, flew nearly 200 hours. Their training opportunities and tactical readiness earned HS-5 the Isbell Trophy for ASW/ASU Excellence in 2011. In January of 2012, HS-5 attended Air Wing Fallon (AWF) at NAS Fallon, NV where the squadron logged 126 sorties and over 280 hours in the mountainous, high altitude environment. The squadron trained to the following missions: Combat Search and Rescue, Aerial Gunnery, Heliborne Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure, Moving Vehicle Targeting, and Special Operations Forces Escort. Additionally, the Nightdippers executed numerous Close Air Support missions in coordination with student Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, expending over 11,000 rounds of 7.62 mm and .50 caliber ammunition and successfully launching three Hellfire missiles.
In June of 2012, HS-5 and CVW-7 deployed with Carrier Strike Group EIGHT (CSG-8) aboard CVN 69, receiving the EAWS Pennant, signifying 75% of the command as Aviation Warfare qualified. Twelve days into the deployment, HS-5 successfully rescued a French Rafale pilot who ejected in the Mediterranean Sea and returned him to the French aircraft carrier, Charles de Gaulle. Over the six month deployment, HS-5 flew 693 sorties, totaling 1,877 hours and 643 night hours, including 54 hours of ASUW training, 78 hours of ASW training, 29 hours of NSW training, 130 hours of Strike training, and 85 hours of functional check flights. Due to an unpredicted status change, HS-5 returned home for two months before deploying again with CVN-69 until July 2013. Two months into the second deployment, HS-5 successfully rescued two American Naval Aviators who ejected from their F/A-18F in the Persian Gulf.
In 2012, HS-5 received the Blue “M” for medical readiness and the Fiscal Year 2012 Retention Excellence Award. Upon return to homeport, HS-5 began its transition to the new MH-60S platform as part of the Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) community. In January 2014, HS-5 successfully transitioned to HSC-5. The Nightdippers were recently awarded the 2013 Battle Efficiency Award for demonstrating the hightest state of battle readiness over the past year.