Saturday, April 25, 2009

HS-3 'Tridents' Return Home

By Kaylee LaRocque, Naval Air Station Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- The "Tridents" of Helicopter Squadron Three (HS-3), who aided in the capture and transport of 16 suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden back in February, returned home to NAS Jacksonville April 16 after a deployment on board USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

HS-3 deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a component of Carrier Air Wing Eight for seven and a half months flying more than 3,800 direct combat support flight hours.

In January, the squadron provided three HH-60H aircraft to Commander, Combined Task Force 151 supporting counterpiracy operations on board USS San Antonio (LPD 17)and USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1). With piracy continuing to be a huge problem in this area, Navy forces are on high alert.

"All of our missions are dangerous but we just continue to do our job professionally," said HS-3 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott Starkey.

The squadron was actually split up and tasked with new missions.

"We're trained to handle all warfighting assignments," said Lt. Chris Brinkac.

Of course, his best mission was arriving home to greet his family.

"I'm just glad to be home. It's what I've been waiting for," he added.

During the deployment, HS-3 along with the Roosevelt also made a historic port visit to Cape Town, South Africa in October 2008, marking the first visit of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the country of South Africa in over 40 years. While in port, the Tridents conducted an emergent at-anchor 80,000 pound vertical replenishment to aid in a cooperative engagement with the South African government.

HS-3 is comprised of 24 officers and 174 enlisted Sailors. The squadron flies four SH-60F and three HH-60H Seahawk helicopters.