US Navy, November 16, 2012 - SAN DIEGO (NNS) by By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jonathan P. Idle, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West - Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 15 officially transitioned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 15 during a ceremony, Nov. 15, at Naval Air Station North Island.
The "Red Lions" are the latest anti-submarine squadron to make the transition to a sea combat squadron as part of the Navy's new direction for the rotary wing community, said Cmdr. Gabriel Soltero, commanding officer of HSC-15.
"The Navy has been moving toward using the MH-60 helicopter as a very versatile platform," Soltero said. "Part of that included two new airframes, the MH-60R and MH-60S. As that concept of operations evolved, we decided to leave the anti-submarine warfare mission to the MH-60R, and the sensors in that aircraft are quite capable of carrying out that mission. So, we're still just as capable, if not more, as a rotary wing community. We just have different aircraft now to carry it out."
The MH-60S Seahawk will replace the SH-60F/H aircraft previously used by HS-15. Soltero said that the squadron had to undergo extensive training to prepare to fly and maintain the new aircraft.
"The squadron had to send quite a few Sailors to learn how to work and maintain the new MH-60S," said Soltero. "Luckily, many of the systems are similar but some are not. Those that were not similar, specifically avionics and ordnance, required some new training on the part of our Sailors. So when we returned from deployment this past May, we took some time to arrange for our Sailors to receive this training. In addition, our pilots had to go to undergo training here to learn how to fly the MH-60S."
Aviation Structural Mechanic 3rd Class Rodney Faulk, assigned to HSC-15, was one of the Sailors who underwent more than five months of training to prepare for the transition.
"My job has changed a lot because of the new aircraft," Faulk noted. "There are no more anti-submarine components. It's more combat-related now. So, there are more weapons systems, which mean more airframe systems to support those weapons systems. We had to re-qualify on everything."
Despite the new aircraft and some changes to the squadron's mission, they will continue to perform many of the core missions they have been carrying out for years, Soltero said.
"We're retaining many of our other mission sets including anti-surface warfare, naval special warfare support, and combat search and rescue," said Soltero. "Those are missions that were part of our core set as an HS squadron, and we will continue to perform those missions as an HSC squadron."
Soltero said he has enjoyed the experience of leading the squadron through the transition.
"My very first operational squadron was HS-15, when I was a young lieutenant, about 15 years ago. To me, it's been a very high honor to be able to stand up in front of the squadron and lead it through the transition. The Sailors have done a fantastic job, the pilots are top notch, and there is really nothing else I would rather be doing."