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Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Three
Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 3 (United States Navy - insignia).gif
HSC-3 Merlins Insignia
Active September 1, 1967 - present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Navy Helicopter Squadron
Size The unit has 4 out of the Navy's 17 AWCM's ( Master Chief Naval Aircrewman ) where historically there has only been one assigned for the last 30 years.
Nickname "Merlins"
Commander Timothy Symons
NAS North Island
Aircraft flown
Helicopter MH-60S Knighthawk

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Three (HSC-3), also known as the "Merlins" are a United States Navy helicopter squadron based at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California. HSC-3 formerly flew the H-46 Sea Knight (also called a Phrog because of its aesthetic similarities to the animal) but officially completed its transition to the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter in 2006. [1]


HSC-3 was established on 1 April 2005, and is the redesignation for HC-3. HC-3 was established on September 1, 1967 at Naval Air Station Imperial Beach. At that time, HC-3 was the only West Coast vertical replenishment (VERTREP) squadron. Operating from Combat Logistics Force (CLF) ships, HC-3 detachments transferred critical supplies to forward deployed ships via helicopter, affording maximum mobility to the Battle Group.

In July 1973, HC-3 moved to its present location aboard NAS North Island. In 1982, HC-3 became the single-site Fleet Replenishment Squadron (FRS) training pilots and aircrew in shipboard landings, VERTREP, SAR, Night Vision Devices (NVDs), tactics and emergency procedures.

The first MH-60S student completed training on April 26, 2002, and HC-3 completed H-46 training with the last Phrog pilot on September 2002. It transitioned to its new designation in April 2005.

HSC-3 administers a number of programs in addition to providing trained pilots and aircrew to the Fleet. As the Model Manager for the Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) for the MH-60S, HSC-3 evaluates the NATOPS program of each HSC squadron annually. HSC-3 instructors also train all Pacific Fleet Helicopter Control Officers (HCOs) and Landing Signalman Enlisted (LSEs). Additionally, as the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) SAR Model Manager, HSC-3 establishes the training and equipment requirements for all naval SAR operations.

As a result of the command's concern for all aspects of flight and ground safety, HC-3 has accumulated over 148,000 accident-free flight hours since July of 1974. This record makes HC-3 the safest operational helicopter squadron in the Navy and has enabled the squadron to win eight Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Awards. This achievement, plus an excellent operational record, brought a fifth consecutive Battle Efficiency Award to HC-3 in 1983. This was the seventh Battle "E" Award presented by COMNAVAIRPAC to the squadron since its establishment.


  1. ^ http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/navy/hc-3.htm

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