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Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 5 (HSC-5)
HSC-5 Nightdippers Insignia
Active January 3, 1956 - present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Navy Helicopter Squadron
Part of CVW-7
Garrison/HQ NS Norfolk
Nickname "Nightdippers"
Motto "We Rescue, We Protect, We Deliver"
Commander Dennis J. Vigeant
HSS Seabats from HS-5 on USS Lake Champlain, 1960.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron FIVE (HSC-5) (previously Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron FIVE (HS-5)), also known as the Nightdippers, is a helicopter squadron of the United States Navy based at Naval Station Norfolk operating the Sikorsky SH-60F and HH-60H. The Nightdippers are a part of Carrier Air Wing Seven and deploy aboard the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69)[1] to provide antisubmarine patrol, maritime strike, search and rescue, vertical replenishment, and air assault capabilities to the fleet.


Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Five was commissioned at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida, on 3 January 1956. Its primary mission back then was the same as it is today: denying the enemy effective use of their submarines. In 1963, HS-5 transitioned to the first twin jet turbine helicopter, the SH-3A "Sea King". In 1978, HS-5 and CVW-7 were assigned to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69), at the time the Navy's newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Following an extended deployment to the Mediterranean, HS-5 transitioned to the SH-3H, which incorporated the latest in ASW technological advances.

An extensive work-up cycle prepared HS-5 and the Eisenhower for a 1988 Mediterranean deployment. With a single helicopter embarked on the USS Peterson (DD 969), the community had its first ever six-month detachment of a single SH-3H for ASW. The venerable "Sea King" again proved its mettle during numerous multi-national exercises and sensitive Black Sea operations. Well-recognized for its outstanding performance in 1988, the squadron reveled its fourth Captain Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy, sixth CNO Safely Award, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation.

Following a successful turnaround cycle highlighted by two successive HSWING ONE Maintenance Trophies, HS-5 deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in March 1990, once again aboard the Eisenhower. Referred to as the "Centennial Cruise" in honor of the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, this deployment included an unusual mid-deployment journey to the English Channel for participation in ceremonies in remembrance of the D-Day invasion of Normandy. In August 1990, the IKE left the Mediterranean again, transiting the Suez Canal and taking position in the Red Sea to deter possible Iraqi aggression against Saudi Arabia at the beginning of Operation Desert Shield.

HS-5 SH-3As from USS Essex operating with HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën, in 1967.

The Nightdippers marked the end of an era when the last of their SH-3H "Sea King" helicopters was transferred from NAS Jacksonville in January 1995. Although the Sea Kings were older than the personnel maintaining them, several upgrades, modifications, and service life extensions kept the H-3 up-to-date with the latest technological advances in ASW, electronics, and power plant systems. The squadron kept their vintage helicopters aloft for a total of 108,661 hours and in ready-to-launch, around the clock status for over three decades. The Sea Kings were flown to different parts of the country and one is proudly displayed at the Quonset Point Air Museum in Rhode Island.

January 1995 began a new chapter in Nightdipper history when the squadron transitioned to the SH-60 "Seahawk". Faced with completing a demanding transition during a compressed thirteen-month turnaround cycle, the men and women of HS-5 completed the transition three months ahead of schedule and met every operational commitment during their pre-deployment work-up schedule. Also at this time, HS-5 added yet another facet to their repertoire of warfare missions. While detached to NAS Fallon, Nevada, the Nightdippers perfected Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) procedures in preparation for deployment.

As a result of their first operational deployment with the new SH-60F/HH-60H, the Nightdippers were awarded the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle "E", the Thatch USW Excellence Award and the Commander Sixth Fleet "Hook' em" Award for Undersea Warfare Excellence.

An SH-60F from HS-5 with USS Grayling, in 1996.

The squadron has won the prestigious Battle “E” award three of the last five years, and the Fleet Forces Retention Excellence Award for the last two years, as well as the Isbell Award for ASW and ASU excellence in FY06.

Operationally, recent Nightdipper achievements speak for themselves. Approximately thirty maintainers, aircrew, and pilots from HS-5 were deployed for six months to an Expanded Maritime Interdiction Operation (EMIO) operating site in the summer of 2005. The Nightdippers effectively fulfilled the Navy’s EMIO mission, acting as a critical maritime component to the Global War on Terrorism by deterring, delaying, and disrupting the movement of terrorists and terrorist-related materials at sea. The Nightdippers collaborated on this mission with United States Marine Corps fleet anti-terrorism security teams (FAST) and Mobile Security Squadron Seven (MSS-7), as well as other various allied nations and their forces.

In addition to the recent completion of the EMIO mission, HS-5 provided two aircraft and 37 personnel to participate in the massive Hurricane Katrina relief effort. The Nightdippers logged more than 93.6 flight hours and rescued 41 people in distress, as well as delivering 14,860 pounds of food and water to hurricane victims.

HS-5 has provided CVW-7 and the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) with over 5,000 hours of direct support missions over the course of the 2006 work-up cycle and 2006-2007 extended deployment.

On January 24, 2014, Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Five (HS-5) transitioned to Helicopter Sea Combat Sqaudron Five (HSC-5) during a cememony at Naval Station Norfolk (the "NightDipper" homeport which transitioned from Jacksonville Florida in 2010). This transition to the "new" helicopter platform of MH-60S proved to be a challange as pilots, aircrew, and support maintenance trained to accommodate the required changes of the fleet. HSC-2 "Fleet Angels" assisted HS-5 during this transition.[2]

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