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Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Nine
HSC-9 Emblem
Active18 June 1952 - present
Country United States of America
BranchUnited States Navy Seal United States Navy
TypeNavy Helicopter Squadron
RoleAnti-Surface Warfare (ASUW)
Combat Search and Rescue CSAR
Search and Rescue (SAR)
Special Operations (SpecOps)
Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP)
Part ofCVW-8 Patch Carrier Air Wing Eight
Commander, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic
Garrison/HQNS Norfolk NAS Norfolk
ColorsBlack and Red
EngagementsOperation Enduring Freedom
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Global War on Terror
CDR Ryan Dexter

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Nine (HSC-9) "Tridents" is a United States Navy helicopter squadron based at Naval Air Station Norfolk, Norfolk, Virginia. HSC-9 is attached to Carrier Air Wing Eight and deploys aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77). HSC-9 was redesignated from HS-3 on 1 June 2009.

Squadron insignia during the period of designation as HS-3


Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Nine's primary mission is to employ the versatility of the MH-60S helicopter to support the battle group commander's objectives, with emphasis on Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), support of Special Operations, and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP). Secondary missions include Anti-Ship Missile defense and Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).

Command history[edit]

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Three[edit]

A HSS-1 Seabat of HS-3 landing on USS Essex (CVA-9) in 1957.

HSC-9 was established as Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Three (HS-3) on 18 June 1952, at the Naval Air Facility Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The Tridents commenced operations flying the Piasecki HUP-2S Retriever helicopter, and later transitioned to the Sikorsky HO4S and Sikorsky HSS-1 Seabat helicopters. In 1959 the squadron received the Sikorsky HSS-1N Seabat giving it the capability to operate at night. HS-3 was the first Atlantic Fleet operational squadron to operate the gas turbine powered HSS-2 Sea King in 1961. In September 1962 in compliance with the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft designation system the HSS-2 Sea King was redesignated the SH-3A Sea King. In 1967 the squadron received the SH-3D, and finally the SH-3H TACNAV equipped helicopter in 1979. Additionally in 1982, HS-3 became the first squadron to deploy with the AQS-13E Sonar Data Computer.

HS-3 was first deployed aboard USS Antietam (CVS-36) and USS Leyte (CVS-32) in late 1956, flying the HSS-1 Seabat. This was followed by assignments to USS Lake Champlain (CVS-39), USS Tarawa (CVS-40), and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45), in 1958-60.

From 1960 to 1970, HS-3 was assigned to Carrier Anti-Submarine Air Group 56 (CVSG-56). CVSG-56 was first assigned to Valley Forge before moving to USS Randolph (CVS-15), in 1961. HS-3 then transitioned to the Sikorsky HSS-2/SH-3A Sea King. In 1962, on board the USS Wasp (CVS-18), HS-3 participated in the naval blockade of Cuba. The Air Group was reassigned to USS Intrepid (CVS-11) in 1962 until she was deployed as an attack carrier to Vietnam in 1966. The Tridents began an active role in the space program on 24 May 1962, when then CO CDR J. M. Wondergem picked up LCDR M. S. Carpenter from his Aurora 7 spacecraft and delivered him to Intrepid. Astronauts Carpenter, Grissom, Young, Collins, Gordon, Conrad, McDivitt, Scott, and Schweickart all ended their space journeys with rides aboard HS-3 helicopters.

An HS-3 SH-3H Sea King aboard USS Saratoga (CV-60), in 1986.

In 1967, CVSG-56 and HS-3 again deployed aboard USS Randolph (CVS-15), having received the SH-3D Sea King. Two years later, CVSG-56 was reassigned to USS Yorktown (CVS-10) and then to Intrepid in 1970. HS-3 was then reassigned to Carrier Air Wing Seventeen aboard USS Forrestal (CVA-59). In the early 1970s, the squadron participated in the relief of Tunisian flood victims, rescuing or relocating 630 people while transporting over 43,000 pounds of food and medical supplies. In recognition of this humanitarian support, the squadron was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. In July 1976, a detachment from HS-3 went aboard the USS Forrestal (CV-59) and participated in the United States Bicentennial celebrations in New York Harbor. Squadron personnel participated in some of the publicity events leading up to the actual ringing of the Forrestal's bell on July 4, 1976. HS-3 won the Battle "E" in 1973 and 1978 as well as the Isbell Trophy in 1974 and 1978. In 1979, HS-3 received the SH-3H Sea King.

From 1984 to 1991, CVW-17 and HS-3 were reassigned to USS Saratoga (CV-60). HS-3 was awarded two Navy Unit Commendations for operational accomplishments and outstanding maintenance efforts during the 1985-86 Mediterranean and Indian Ocean deployment on board Saratoga. The Tridents won three consecutive Battle "E" Awards for 1985, '86 and '87. They also won back-to-back Isbell Trophies in 1986 and '87. In 1990, the Tridents enforced United Nations sanctions against Iraqi trade while deployed on board the USS Saratoga (CV-60) in the Red Sea. HS-3 conducted an actual Helicopter Visit, Board, Search and Seizure (HVBSS) with a special forces boarding team to "take down" a hostile merchant ship during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. HS-3 provided superb combat support in this campaign and was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation for those efforts. The squadron returned home in the spring of 1991 and was the first Atlantic squadron to transition to the Sikorsky SH-60F/HH-60H Seahawk.

After transition to the SH-60F and HH-60H Seahawk in 1991, HS-3 was assigned to CVW-8 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), in 1993. Preparations for the squadron's 1995 Mediterranean deployment were interrupted when the Tridents were called on to support Operation Uphold Democracy during the military intervention in Haiti. HS-3 provided the sole Navy Maritime SAR, CSAR and special operations support. The Tridents deployed one week after the completion of Uphold Democracy and flew in support of Operation Deny Flight over Bosnia-Herzegovina. During this deployment, HS-3 also flew the first actual CSAR mission by an HS squadron since the Vietnam era to search for the crew of a downed French Mirage fighter. In 1997, HS-3 deployed aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) to the mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.

The Tridents again deployed aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) in March 1999 and headed straight into the first of two conflicts. During Operation Noble Anvil, HS-3 supported combat operations against Serbia in Kosovo. Once a cease-fire was agreed upon, the Theodore Roosevelt transited the Persian Gulf to support maritime interdiction operations and enforce no-fly zones over southern Iraq. In August, HS-3 conducted a successful HVBSS to a freighter violating UN sanctions. The operation seized $3.5 million in Iraqi contraband. During this demanding deployment, HS-3 lifted over 1,800,000 pounds of cargo and completed over 2,000 small deck landings. HS-3 was awarded the Battle "E" for 1999.

In April 2001, HS-3 deployed aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65). In response to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the Tridents conducted sustained operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

HH-60H and SH-60F of HS-3 in 2005.

The Tridents deployed in 2003 aboard Theodore Roosevelt after a compressed inter-deployment readiness cycle. During the course of the deployment, HS-3 conducted ASW, logistics, and SAR operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In September 2008, after completing a lengthy training cycle, the Tridents deployed in USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) to the Arabian Sea in support of combat operations in Afghanistan. Along the way, HS-3 took part in a historic visit to Cape Town, South Africa. The Theodore Roosevelt was the first U. S. carrier to visit Cape Town in over 40 years. Once arriving on-station in the CENTCOM AOR, the Tridents flew plane guard, anti-terrorism force protection, anti-surface warfare, logistics, and anti-submarine warfare in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom and maritime security operations during the 2008-2009 deployment. The Tridents also detached three HH-60H aircraft to the USS San Antonio (LPD-17) and subsequently to the USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE-1) for two months. This detachment supported Combined Task Force 151 counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden. The Tridents assisted in apprehending 16 suspected pirates and paved the way for future operations in the region. In 2008, HS-3 won the CNAF Aviation Battle Efficiency, Commander, Naval Aviation Safety Center Safety "S", and the CAPT A. J. Isbell Trophy.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Nine[edit]

On 16 April 2009, the Tridents returned home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, from their final cruise as a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron. During this year, the Tridents received the Jimmy Thach award for excellence in Anti-Submarine Warfare, a great end cap to the squadron's distinguished legacy as an Anti-Submarine squadron. In May, the squadron started its permanent duty station change from Naval Air Station Jacksonville to Naval Air Station Norfolk, VA and airframe change to the MH-60S Seahawk. On 1 June 2009, the Tridents were redesignated Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron NINE (HSC-9).

On 13 January 2010, the Tridents sent two helicopters in support of Operation Unified Response, providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief following the devastating Haiti earthquake. Squadron personnel spent three months deployed in USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and USS Bataan (LHD-5) off the coast of Haiti, delivering over 280,000 pounds of disaster relief supplies and completing 240 MEDEVAC missions on the beleaguered island. The Tridents also brought ashore over 556,000 pounds of sustainment supplies and made 1300 passenger transfers in support of the Operation.

HSC-9 was reassigned to Carrier Airwing EIGHT embarked in USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), deploying to the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf in 2011 and in 2014.

Former commanding officers[edit]

An HSC-9 MH-60S Seahawk in 2013.
An MH-60S Sea Hawk of HSC-9 off USS George H.W. Bush.
CDR Francis H. McClanan June 1952 to June 1953
CDR J. R. Wilson June 1953 to February 1955
CDR A. H. Willis February 1955 to April 1956
CDR Forest H. McClanan April 1956 to March 1957
CDR F. H. Hollowell March 1957 to March 1958
CDR E. K. Larkin March 1958 to March 1959
CDR R. G. Amme March 1959 to March 1960
CDR W. L. Bennett March 1960 to March 1961
CDR A. H. Munson March 1961 to March 1962
CDR J. M. Wondergem March 1962 to January 1963
CDR J. C. Wilkins January 1963 to January 1964
CDR K. L. Morse January 1964 to December 1964
CDR J. T. Carter, Jr. December 1964 to December 1965
CDR E. N. Bouffard December 1965 to November 1966
CDR R. A. Miller November 1966 to September 1967
CDR M. J. Twite, Jr. September 1967 to June 1968
CDR G. M. Rankin, Jr. June 1968 to May 1969
CDR W. A. Domingue May 1969 to May 1970
CDR S. R. Snyder May 1970 to May 1971
CDR W. H. Winchester May 1971 to May 1972
CDR U. W. King May 1972 to April 1973
CDR W. H. Pharis April 1973 to May 1974
CDR F. C. Brockhausen May 1974 to June 1975
CDR R. A. Fisher June 1975 to October 1976
CDR J. M. Quarterman, Jr. October 1976 to January 1978
CDR B. A. Spofford January 1978 to April 1979
CDR H. E. Perry April 1979 to June 1980
CDR P. L. Nelson June 1980 to September 1981
CDR P. D. McGovern September 1981 to November 1982
CDR H. W. Nesbitt November 1982 to May 1984
CDR M. J. Panchura, Jr. May 1984 to October 1985
CDR S. L. Fahrenkrog October 1985 to March 1986
CDR L. L. Fitzgerald March 1986 to July 1988
CDR J. Hrenko, Jr. July 1988 to November 1989
CDR T. F. Darcy November 1989 to December 1990
CDR J. P. Avveduti, Jr. December 1990 to October 1992
CDR G. W. Faber October 1992 to January 1994
CDR J. H. Thompson January 1994 to March 1995
CDR R. H. Magee April 1995 to August 1996
CDR C. P. Bourne August 1996 to October 1997
CDR E. W. Dobson, Jr. October 1997 to January 1999
CDR J. S. Husaim January 1999 to March 2000
CDR G. A. Chamberlain March 2000 to June 2001
CDR L. W. Schonenberg June 2001 to October 2002
CDR J. B. Hopkins II October 2002 to February 2004
CDR S. W. Holmes February 2004 to April 2005
CDR T. J. Fitzgerald April 2005 to June 2006
CDR M. R. Moore June 2006 to September 2007
CDR M. A. Truluck September 2007 to December 2008
CDR S. B. Starkey December 2008 to April 2010
CDR W. T. Cox, Jr. April 2010 to July 2011
CDR B. K. Pummill July 2011 to October 2012
CDR B. L. Arthur October 2012 to January 2014
CDR B. S. Peeples January 2014 to May 2015
CDR J. D. Sowers May 2015 to July 2016 CDR N. V. Mantalvanos July 2016 to Oct 2017

Squadron aircraft[edit]

Piasecki HUP Retriever, 1952-1953
Sikorsky HO4S, 1954-1955
Sikorsky HSS Seabat,

  • HSS-1, 1955-1958
  • HSS-1N, 1958-1961

Sikorsky H-3 Sea King

  • HSS-2/SH-3A, 1961-1967 (designation changed from HSS-2 to SH-3A in Sep 1962)
  • SH-3D, 1967-1979
  • SH-3H, 1979-1991

Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawk

  • SH-60F, 1991–2009
  • HH-60H, 1991–2009
  • MH-60S, 2009–present

Squadron awards[edit]

SAR Excellence Award

"Golden Wrench" Maintenance Award

2012 "Battle E"

See also[edit]


External links[edit]