|Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Three|
HSC-3 Merlins Insignia
|Active||September 1, 1967 - present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Type||Navy Helicopter Squadron|
|Commander T. Symons
NAS North Island
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.
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.
The hallmark of HSC-3’s success is its dedication to safety and outstanding performance. Since 1974, HSC-3 has accumulated over 250,000 Class “A” mishap-free flight hours, making HSC-3 the Navy’s safest helicopter squadron. Accordingly, HSC-3 has been awarded ten CNO Safety Awards. The squadron’s safety record coupled with its superior operational performance has earned HSC-3 seven Commander Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet Battle Efficiency awards.