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Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron One Four (HSC-14) Currently flying the MH-60S Knighthawk. They are Currently based at Naval Air Station North Island, California

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron One Four
Hs14 insig.jpg
HS-14 Chargers Insignia
Active 10 July 1984 - 1 March 2013 (HS-14) / March 2013 - Present (HSC-14)
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Helicopter Squadron
Size 250 Personnel
Part of CVW-9
Garrison/HQ Naval Air Station North Island
Nickname "Chargers"
Motto "Day and Night, Lightning Strikes!"
Colors Blue / Gold
Commander Robert E. Hawthorne III

A WESTPAC original[edit]

Flying with the call sign "Lightning," HS-14 is a member of Carrier Air Wing FIVE, stationed at the Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan and is attached to the USS George Washington. HS-14 is under the administrative control of the Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing, Pacific Fleet. The squadron is unique in that it is the largest Helicopter Anti-Submarine squadron in the US Navy, with 34 officers, 250 enlisted personnel, and 12 helicopters. Typical HS squadrons have 24 officers, 200 enlisted, and 7 or 8 helicopters.

Like conventional HS Squadrons, HS-14's primary mode of operation is from the carrier. However, the Chargers have grown roughly 150% in order to simultaneously support two Anti-submarine warfare detachments spread among the air capable ships of the USS George Washington strike group whilst still providing first class service to the carrier. The Detachment A "The Chosen Ones" and Detachment B "The SwineBusters" are flexible anti-submarine units that further enhance the capabilities of the USS George Washington Strike Group. In the past year, Det A and B have gone underway on several ships, providing enhanced ASW coverage and flexibility to their host platforms.

Mission areas[edit]

The Chargers currently fly the SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawk helicopters built by Sikorsky in Stratford, Connecticut. The SH-60 Seahawk is an all-weather, day and night multi-mission helicopter. The primary missions of the squadron are to detect, localize, and destroy enemy submarines and small surface vessels in the Anti-submarine warfare(ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare(ASUW) roles. Additionally, the squadron is trained and equipped to conduct Search and rescue (SAR), MEDEVAC, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Naval Special Warfare operations (NSW), Anti-ship Missile Defense (ASMD) and Fleet Logistics support, including VERTREP.

Command history[edit]

HS-14 was established on 10 July 1984 at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California and originally flew the Sikorsky SH-3H "Sea King" helicopter. Assigned to Carrier Air Wing TWO from 1984 to 1993, the Chargers deployed aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61). In 1989, while deployed off the coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea, HS-14 participated in one of the largest rescue operations ever by a deployed helicopter squadron when they rescued 37 Vietnamese refugees who were trapped aboard a foundering boat.

In 1991, HS-14 participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. During Desert Storm, the Chargers participated in an operation that resulted in the capture of four Iraqi commandos on a small island off the coast of Kuwait. Additionally, HS-14 played an important role in the destruction of one Iraqi gunboat and two anti-shipping mines. In 1992, the squadron deployed in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH to the Northern Persian Gulf and to the coast of Somalia in support of Operation RESTORE HOPE. In December 1992, the squadron surged to support the first eleven days of Operation RESTORE HOPE with such determination and efficiency that the operational commander wrote, "without HS-14, the first ten days of RESTORE HOPE simply could not have happened."

In May 1993, the squadron moved 175 men and women, seven aircraft, and all their support equipment from San Diego to Mayport, Florida in four days. The cross-country move was executed to embark on board the USS Constellation (CV-64) for her transit around South America to San Diego. During this transit, the squadron participated in coordinated ASW with several South American navies.

In October 1993, the Chargers began the transition from the Sea King to the SH-60F Seahawk helicopter. Soon afterward, military downsizing dictated the decommissioning of HS-12, a sister squadron in Japan. For HS-14, this meant an accelerated transition schedule and training program to complete a homeport change to Atsugi, Japan by October 1994. The squadron's progress in this endeavor was rewarded with a personal visit from then Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Frank B. Kelso.

HS-14 executed back-to-back deployments to the Persian Gulf in 1998 and 1999, participating in Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. Additionally, the squadron began its annual participation in the bilateral exercises FOAL EAGLE and ANNUALEX . In 1998, the Chargers made the Kitty Hawk their permanent sea-based home, traveling to Hawaii aboard the USS Independence (CV-62) in July for the complicated cross-deck move.

An HS-14 HH-60H starts its engines on USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in 2005.

In early 2002, the Chargers played a role in supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan by deploying a detachment on board USS Kitty Hawk. During this deployment, Kitty Hawk served as a mobile staging base for elite U. S. Army special operations units. In March 2003, as the situation in Iraq escalated, HS-14 and Kitty Hawk received orders to participate in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The Chargers were assigned to provide an NSW capability to forward operating bases in support of SEAL operations. The squadron also affected the recovery of a CVW-5 strike fighter pilot who was downed in hostile territory.

After returning from the Persian Gulf, HS-14 participated in several training and operational deployments, including the historic PULSE EX 2004. This exercise represented a shift in naval policy from set "work-up" periods and deployment schedules to a rapid-responding, surge capable force. During PULSE EX the Navy deployed six carriers simultaneously around the world to demonstrate the projection of power available under the new doctrine. It was during this deployment that an S-3B Viking from CVW-14 crashed on the remote and rugged island of Kita Iwo Jima. HS-14 deployed two Seahawks within three hours to Iwo Jima to conduct search and recovery operations. Working closely with USAF Pararescuemen (PJs) from the 33rd RQS, the USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN and the USS GARY, HS-14 was able to locate the wreckage, salvage parts of the aircraft and return the remains of the Viking crew. This accomplishment was noted in a personal letter from President Bush to the wife of one of the fallen aviators.

In the fall of 2004, an HS-14 detachment deployed two HH-60H helicopters on board the USNS GySgt. Fred W. Stockham (T-AK-3017) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Philippines. The overall effort proved to be a success and established the HS community as a leading participant in the Global War on Terrorism. In the first week of December 2004, typhoons Imbudo and Namando struck the Philippines, causing extensive damage. The Chargers quickly transitioned from a special operations role to that of humanitarian assistance providers. The Chargers were able to provide immediate relief to the most stricken victims of the typhoons and rescue over 100 refugees, providing them critical medical assistance. At the same time, another Charger detachment was deployed on board the guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49) to support several 7th Fleet ASW exercises, operating in conjunction with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF). Additionally, the squadron operated a third detachment out of Atsugi, Japan, completing an unprecedented operational commitment for an HS squadron.

After being deployed or detached 11 out of 12 months in 2004, the Chargers were back aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in January 2005, operating off the southeast coast of Japan. In February 2005, the squadron deployed for routine training operations in the Okinawa Fleet Operations Areas. Simultaneously, HS-14 deployed a one-plane detachment and 18 personnel to the USS Cushing (DD-985) to operate with DESRON 15 in bilateral ASW operations with the South Korean Navy.

Two HS-14 HH-60H's Conduct SAR Training near Okinawa

After some rest and relaxation in Hong Kong, Carrier Strike Group Five, led by the carrier Kitty Hawk, headed north toward Korea for Operation Foal Eagle. HS-14 remained busy for the rest of 2005, spending most of the year deployed and participating in exercises such as Talisman Saber, Orange Crush, JASEX, SHAREM, MULTI-SAIL, and ANNUALEX.

Two Hotels enter LZ Dodo in Okinawa


June 2006 marked the start of another eventful summer deployment aboard the USS Kitty Hawk for the Chargers. Before deploying, HS-14 earned the "Golden Wrench Award" for having the most outstanding maintenance department in the airwing. This marked the third time the Chargers had taken home the award, more than any other squadron in CVW-5. With maintenance operating at full potential and the flight crews ready to fight, the Chargers were ready to start the cruise.

Two Charger helos sit in an LZ on Okinawa

The deployment kicked off with a short port call to Otaru, Japan, a suburb of Sapporo on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. After Otaru, they and Carrier Strike Group Five, led by USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63), joined up with Carrier Strike Group Nine, led by the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), and the Reagan Carrier Strike Group, led by USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), along with Marine Corps, Air Force, and various foreign militaries for the largest operation in over a decade, Valiant Shield. This exercise involved more than 30 ships, 280 aircraft, and 22,000 sailors, marines, and airmen, and focused on the strike groups' ability to maintain a very robust air strike schedule while being attacked by multiple submarine and surface threats. HS-14 performed incredibly, scoring many simulated torpedo attacks on the American, Australian, and Singaporean attacking subs, while allowing almost no attacks against the carrier Kitty Hawk.

While defending the carrier from simulated sub-attacks, the Chargers also had a dedicated Combat Search and Rescue detachment working out of Guam. This detachment focused on joint operations with the Golden Falcons of HS-2 while conducting Naval Special Warfare insertions and extractions. The detachment also gave the crews a chance to learn different techniques when operating in low light, tactical environments. The Chargers worked with several other units from different services and countries during the remainder of the year. Further exercises included "Allies in the Outback", ANNUALEX, and an Atsugi CSAR Detachment.

An HS-14 HH-60H is unintentionally honored aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) in 2008.
Lightning 617 flies near "Smoking George" during flight operations


After the winter holidays, HS-14 was back operating at full clip and taking advantage of the great training areas the Far East has to offer. The Chargers sent a four helicopter detachment to Kadena Air Base on the island of Okinawa, Japan to practice weapons employment and terrain flying. The crews were able to take advantage of the area's weapons ranges and fired two AGM 114B Hellfire missiles and three Mk 46 practice torpedoes. Additionally, the Chargers practiced joint operations with multiple commands and services. HS-14 practiced anti-submarine warfare tracking and attacking techniques with the P-3 Orion squadron, VP-4 "Skinny Dragons". The Chargers were also able to practice fast roping, rappelling, and High Altitude Low Opening and static-line paradrops with the 1st of the 1st Army Airborne Rangers. The 320th Tactics Squadron also worked with HS-14 practicing similar techniques.

Carrier Strike Group Five (CARSTRKGRU 5), led by the carrier Kitty Hawk, began another deployment in May, making stops in Guam, Sydney, Brisbane, Guam again, and Kuala Lumpur. HS-14 participated in multiple exercises during the deployment, including Talisman Saber, Valiant Shield, and Malabar 2007. Once again, HS-14 showcased its versatility, flying CSAR, ASW, VERTREP, Logistics, ASUW, and PHOTOEX missions throughout the summer. CARSTRKGRU 9 pulled into Yokosuka in September, only to depart again in early October for fall cruise. During a port call in Muroran, Northern Japan, HS-14 detached two HH-60H's and four aircrews to Misawa Air Base for FLIR/HELLFIRE training. The detachment rejoined the Kitty Hawk prior to ANNUALEX 19G, the naval portion of a larger US/Japan exercise. Following the exercise, Carrier Strike Group Five made international headlines when it was denied entrance to the port of Hong Kong for the Thanksgiving Holiday. HS-14 returned to Atsugi in early December, ending an eventful year of operations.


HS-14 began 2008 with another weapons detachment to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, beginning in early February. The detachment used four helicopters to fire Hellfire missiles, drop torpedoes, and conduct ASW, CSAR, NSW, and close air support (CAS) training with Marines, Air Force, and Army personnel. Despite less than ideal weather, the squadron met its training goals for the detachment.

Detachment "B" joined USS Lassen in January. Together, they conducted independent operations until March. HS-14's main body embarked Kitty Hawk for Sea Trials in March, followed by workups in April, to include a welcome return to Hong Kong. Detachment A embarked USS Shiloh (CG-67), USS Cowpens (CG-63), and USS Shiloh again from February through May. Carrier Strike Group Five (CARSTRKGRU 5) left Yokosuka in May, marking Kitty Hawk '​s final departure from Japan. Detachment A rejoined the main squadron aboard Kitty Hawk for this cruise, while Detachment B took a much needed break in Atsugi. The strike group visited Guam in June, then proceeded to Hawaii, conducting Blue Water Operations along the way.

HS-14 and CARSTRKGRU 9 were treated to a port call in Honolulu just prior to participating in RIMPAC 2008. At the end of the port call, Detachment A, the "Misfits", debarked Kitty Hawk and embarked USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG-60) as its air department for the exercise. The "Misfits" conducted intensive ASW operations with the Davis in a separate surface action group, providing invaluable support as a "pouncing" aircraft, as well multiple logistics flights in support of the ship. HS-14's main body aboard the Kitty Hawk provided similar support to Carrier Strike Group Five.

Lightning 616 hovers low over a resupply ship for a cargo hookup during VERTREP

Following RIMPAC, the Kitty Hawk proceeded to San Diego for the long awaited CVW-5 Hull Swap with USS George Washington (CVN-73). However, a major task needed to be completed before the Kitty Hawk could pull into San Diego. HS-14 provided VERTREP for one of the largest ammunition offloads in recent memory. HS-14 managed to complete three days worth of "slinging bombs" in two days. The squadron moved over 900 loads, helping the Kitty Hawk to enter San Diego on time, and thousands of tons lighter.

CVW-5 flew off Kitty Hawk for the final time off the coast of California on 6 August. HS-14 provided photographic platforms for the historic flyoff, then flew off to NAS North Island on the 7th. When HS-14 landed at North Island that morning, it marked 14 years since the squadron was forward deployed to Japan. After Kitty Hawk tied up at NAS North Island, CVW-5 immediately began the demanding crossdeck operation required to establish itself aboard its new home, USS George Washington (CVN-73). For two weeks in August, HS-14 was divided between the Kitty Hawk, the George Washington, and HS-4's squadron spaces ashore. The squadron tried to allow sailors as much leave as possible, but completing the crossdeck was the priority.

HS-14 and HSL-51 Det. 3 aircraft fly near USS Ohio (SSGN-726)

The USS George Washington pulled out of San Diego with CVW-5 embarked on 21 August, starting a new chapter for both units. HS-14 flew aboard that afternoon, and following a Blue Water Certification and workups over the next couple weeks, the GW began its trek west. The following month consisted of heavy flight operations for HS-14. The goal was to get CVW-5 and the George Washington Air Department working together as a cohesive team. The GW Strike Group pulled into Yokosuka on 25 September, with HS-14 Helos providing channel guard services for the carrier. CVW-5 remained embarked for the 5 day "port visit".

2008 Fall Cruise began on 30 September. HS-14 left a CSAR detachment back aboard NAF Atsugi for the month of October. Along with Detachment B, the composite detachment managed to qualify several pilots and aircrew in CSAR Syllabus. HS-14's main body continued to provide ASW and SAR service to USS George Washington as the Strike Group visited Pusan, South Korea, and Guam. Following the Guam port visit, Detachment A left GW to embark guided-missile cruiser Cowpens, while Detachment B departed Japan aboard USS Lassen (DDG-82). Both ships joined the GW Strike Group for ANNUALEX 20G, an exercise involving US and Japanese surface, subsurface, and air units. During the exercise, HS-14 provided round the clock ASW coverage, with GW based helos covering days and detachment helos covering nights. The squadron scored numerous submarine kills, helping to validate the detachment concept. HS-14 and CVW-5 returned to Atsugi on 21 November, marking nearly nine months of underway time for the air wing in 2008.


During the 2009 Summer Deployment HS-14 participated in TALISMAN SABRE 2009. While the main body of HS-14 supported the air wing on the West coast of Australia, Detachment Bravo, on USS Mustin (DDG-89) conducted continuous ASW missions in support of multinational operations. In conjunction with two permanent Detachments, the Chargers sent a temporary detachment to Darwin, Australia to work with Australia Special Forces. As the Summer Deployment wound down, HS-14 celebrated both their 25th birthday on 10 July marking 25 years of service and 50,000 hours Class "A" mishap free.

During the Fall Deployment (October – November 2009), HS-14 flew over 500 additional Class "A" mishap free hours. While Chargers on board [[[USS George Washington (CVN-73)|USS George Washington (CVN-73)]]. worked ASW for Talisman Sabre, Detachment Bravo conducted actual ASW operations tracking a Russian Oscar. For the squadron's unequaled performance in its primary mission areas of Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and Anti-Surface Warfare (ASU) they were awarded with the 2009 Captain Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy for Anti-Submarine and Anti-Surface Warfare Excellence.


From 19 February to 5 March, HS-14 sent a detachment to Kadena AFB, Okinawa, Japan. During this detachment the squadron flew over 250 hours enhancing their readiness for the 2010 Deployment.


HS-14 alongside HSL-51 have been conducting humanitarian flights over Japan since 11 March as part of Operation Tomodachi from Naval Air Facility Misawa.[1]

Helicopter survey of flooding in suburban Greater Bangkok 22 October 2011

In the aftermath of the 2011 Thai floods, the squadron joined other Navy personnel in providing humanitarian assistance and surveillance of flooded areas.


HS-14 conducted a permanent duty station change to NAS North Island, Coronado, CA in March.

HS-14 transitioned to the MH-60S airframe and was reestablished as HSC-14 in July.

HS-14 Achievements[edit]

HS-14 celebrated over thirteen years and 50,000 mishap-free flight hours in August 2009. The squadron's impressive history is highlighted by many awards including

  • Navy Unit Commendation Medal - 1991 (OPERATION DESERT STORM), 1998 (USS Independence (CV-62))
  • Meritorious Unit Commendation Medal - 1989, 1994, and 1996 while attached to CVW-2, USS Ranger (CV 61), and the USS Independence (CV 62) Battle Group
  • Seven Battle Efficiency Awards - 1989, 1992, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, and 2010
  • Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal - 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1998, 1999, and 2003
  • Joint Meritorious Unit Award - 1993
  • Humanitarian Service Medal - 2001 (USS Gary (FFG-51))
  • Southwest Asia Service Medal -1991
  • Nine Chief of Naval Operations Safety Awards - 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2006, and 2010
  • Two consecutive DESRON SEVEN "Golden Arrow" Awards
  • Nine Arnold J. Isbell Awards for ASW and ASUW excellence - 1993, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010
  • Admiral John S. Thatch Award for ASW excellence - 2003
  • Three CVW-5 Maintenance Excellence "Golden Wrench" Awards – 2nd Qtr. 03, 2nd Qtr. 04, 4th Qtr. 04, 1st Qtr. 06

See also[edit]


External links[edit]