US Navy, June 14, 2013 - SAN DIEGO (NNS) By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda Huntoon - Sailors assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 "Merlins" celebrated reaching 250,000 Class A Mishap-free hours, June 14.
A Class A mishap is classified as an accident with a destroyed aircraft, damages that exceeds $2 million, loss of life, or permanent total disability. According to Lt. Kevin Lind, aviation safety officer at HSC-3, statistically across Naval Aviation, a Class A flight mishap occurs every 100,000 flight hours.
"Achieving this milestone does not just happen. It takes a concerted effort from every Sailor in the command to promote aviation safety," said Lind. "Maintainers must be diligent in their work and hold themselves to an extremely high standard. Flyers must continually seek to improve their skills and knowledge of the aircraft. Open communication and a culture of keeping each other accountable have allowed us to achieve this goal."
Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Sanchez, maintenance officer at HSC-3, emphasized that to reaching a milestone like this is only possible through training, communication and taking pride in the work that you do.
"I am truly happy to be part of this, and the command should be very proud," explained Sanchez. "I have every bit of confidence that we will hit 500,000 class A mishap-free hours if we continue to do the things that we do; which is proper maintenance by the book, and by doing everything we can individually through qualifications, good communication, training, and by caring about each other and the job at hand."
Helicopter Combat Squadron (HC) 3 was established in 1967. The squadron originally flew the H-46 Sea Knight. The squadron celebrated 50,000 Class A Mishap-free hours in 1981. They started flying the MH-60S Sea Hawk in 2002 and transitioned into HSC-3 in 2005. HSC-3 is currently the largest helicopter Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) in the Navy, training pilots to fly the MH-60S, SH-60F, and the HH-60H.
"It really is an incredible accomplishment that doesn't happen overnight. This remarkable milestone has taken nearly 40 years to achieve," said Lt. Robert Zubeck, instructor pilot at HSC-3. "We have grown incredibly in the past couple of years. We are now the largest helicopter squadron in the whole Navy, and we fly three different types of helicopters. We also fly an extensive flight schedule nearly every day of the week. All of this makes our job more difficult, and puts an emphasis on safety to complete our jobs of training the fleets next aviators and air crewmen."
In 2012, Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 10 decommissioned and most of the Sailors from the command transferred to HSC-3 along with many of the helicopters. This increased the number of Sailors stationed at HSC-3 from 625 to more than 800, and the number of helicopters from 22 to 32.
"Recognition for flying safely is a huge deal, especially with the operations that we do. We fly on average 75 to 80 hours a day, 1000 hours a month, operating at the squadron 24 hours a day, seven days a week," explained Capt. Michael Ruth, commanding officer HSC-3. "Just in the last 10 months our squadron has grown tremendously. We have merged both of the FRS's, which has almost doubled our daily flight hours. When you put that into perspective that is a lot of moving parts, it's a lot of flight time, a lot of aircraft, which increases the potential for something bad to happen. The fact that we are able to do it safely is a testament to the professionalism of the people at HSC-3."