US Navy, May 25, 2020 - NORFOLK, VA by Lt jg Evan Sternstein - As the world adapts to the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the “Chargers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 26 have demonstrated flexibility while continuing to execute training and operational missions in support of the nation’s defense at home and abroad.
Since implementing sanitization and various protective procedures, HSC-26 has remained steadfast in its commitment to ensuring mission capabilities and task requirements are met, and successfully completed the Helicopter Advanced Readiness Program in preparation for an upcoming deployment overseas.
Additionally, on the home front, HSC-26 pilots, aircrew, maintenance, and support personnel have undergone training to ensure preparedness in case of COVID-19 related tasking.
Aircrew from HSC-26 recently returned to Naval Station Norfolk after joining HSC-9 on the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, during a Post-Delivery Test and Trials (PDT&T) at-sea period.
As the plane guard and search and rescue asset, the detachment supported the completion of carrier qualifications (CQ) for Fleet Replacement Squadrons and student aviators from Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA).
HSC-26 has a permanent four helicopter detachment in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The Desert Hawk’s primary mission is to provide logistical support to naval forces throughout the Arabian Gulf.
The Desert Hawks also serve as a combat-ready unit that is capable of a wide array of missions, such as Maritime Attack, Personnel Recovery, and Non-Traditional Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. To combat the spread of COVID-19, the detachment has implemented procedures for the safe transportation of personnel.
This includes the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), strict sanitization procedures, and specific medical precautions in conjunction with the host nation, Bahrain. Mitigations such as these enable the detachment to remain a formidable combat logistics asset without interruption of operations.
“I am extremely proud of the teamwork, dedication, ingenuity, and leadership displayed by all members of the command and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cmdr. Benjamin Foster, commanding officer, HSC-26. “The Chargers of HSC-26 continue to be ready, both at home and abroad, to answer the nation’s call. I could not have asked for a more motivated and professional team to navigate the past few months.”
HSC-26’s mission is to deploy expeditionary-armed helicopter detachments that execute naval special warfare, amphibious search and rescue, theater security cooperation, strike coordination and reconnaissance, anti-surface warfare, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief and utility missions in support of the fleet and our national defense.