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Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85
NEW FIREHAWK small.jpg
HSC-85 Emblem
Active 1 July 1970 - present
Country  United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Navy Helicopter Squadron
Role Special Operations (SpecOps)
Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR)
Search & Rescue (SAR)
Garrison/HQ NAS North Island
Nickname(s) "Firehawks"
Motto(s) "Et Fun Faciendo"
Colors Red, Blue, Gold
Commander Brian "Wildman" Wilderman

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron EIGHTY FIVE (HSC-85) "Firehawks" is a United States Navy Reserve helicopter squadron based at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California. HSC-85 currently flies the HH-60H Seahawk. With the deactivation of HSC-84 in March 2016 this squadron remains as the only Navy helicopter squadron dedicated to Special Operations support as a primary role. The squadron was previously designated Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron EIGHTY FIVE (HS-85) and Helicopter Combat Support Squadron EIGHTY FIVE (HC-85)

Operational history[edit]

The squadron was established as a Naval Reserve squadron on 1 July 1970 as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Eighty Five (HS-85) "Golden Gators." It flew the Sikorsky SH-3A Sea King, later transitioning to the D and H models. In October 1994 the squadron was redesignated Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Eight Five (HC-85), it retained the nickname "Golden Gators" and traded in its Anti-Submarine H model Sea Kings for utility model UH-3H Sea Kings. In February 2006 the squadron was again redesignated, this time to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Eight Five (HSC-85). It was equipped with the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter and it operated in a utility role. At that time the squadron changed its nickname from "Golden Gators" to "High Rollers".

A SH-3H Sea King of HS-85 in the 1980s.

On 8 July 2011 the squadron was retasked as a Special Operations support squadron in response to a request by United States Special Operations Command. It traded in its MH-60S Seahawks for HH-60H Combat Search and Rescue/NSW support variant helicopters and it adopted the name "Firehawks" from Helicopter Combat Support Special Squadron FIVE (HCS-5) which had been deactivated in 2006.[1]

HCS-5 which had been established as Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) Five (HAL-5) on 1 March 1977 and redesignated HCS-5 in October 1989 also exclusively supported Special Operations prior to its deactivation. Although the nature of the lineage between HCS-5 and HSC-85 is only through the adoption of the "Firehawk" nickname by HSC-85, many former members of HCS-5 were either already serving at HSC-85, or came to serve at HSC-85 after the squadron was re-tasked with its current Special Operations (SO) mission.

A Navy SEAL fast-roping from a HSC-85 Seahawk in 2011.

HSC-85 deployed supporting the SO mission in September 2013 and returned from the two-year deployment in late 2015.

In accordance with a 2015 Navy directive, HSC-85 was scheduled to be deactivated as a result of the Budget Control Act. However, primarily due to the efforts of Congressman Ryan Zinke, Congress directed the Navy to retain HSC-85.

HSC-85 is deployed worldwide in support of the special operations mission as directed by the United States Special Operations Command.


  1. ^ HSC-85 Takes on New Role Supporting Special Warfare Operations, by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dominique Pineiro, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, U.S. Navy story number NNS110714, release date: 14 July 2011, retrieved 28 September 2016.

External links[edit]

See also[edit]

Comparable US units[edit]