Wednesday, December 21, 2011

HSC-25 Detachment 6 Returns From Deployment

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 Detachment 6 returned home from a six-month deployment Dec. 15.

Detachment 6, also known as the Island Knights, embarked aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) twice during its deployment totaling more than 100 days at sea. While on Essex, the crew flew more than 560 hours as the ship's primary search and rescue platform and flew seven medical evacuation flights saving seven lives.

HSC-25 Commanding Officer Cmdr. John Compton commended the detachment's efforts and welcomed them home just in time for the holiday season.

"They did a phenomenal job over the last six months," he said. "They were involved in probably one of the most phenomenal transfers of aircraft in such a short period of time that I've ever witnessed in my whole Navy career. They were doing the Navy's core mission of projection and power. I'm extremely proud of them."

The Island Knights also served as an anti-terrorism force protection asset during the critical phases of President Obama's trip to Indonesia. The maintenance department executed more than 4,000 separate maintenance actions on four different aircraft allowing the detachment to be fully mission-capable 100 percent of the time.

Lt. Cmdr. Mason Allen was one of the officers in charge during the detachment's deployment and praised his team for a job well done.

"Every day Sailors are out there in harm's way, standing the watch. You stood at the watch the last six months and now you're home," Allen said. "So you're relieved for a few days to be with your friends and family."

Sailors of Detachment 6 were excited as they reunited with friends and families.

"Days like this are awesome," said Lt. Richard Hill, HSC-25 pilot. "It's one of the best parts about being in the military, coming home and being with your friends and family. We're glad to be here."

While on its fall patrol, Essex traveled more than 13,000 miles visiting Okinawa, Japan; Subic Bay, Philippines; Bali, Indonesia; and Manila, Philippines, before returning to its homeport in Sasebo, Japan.

Essex participated in two exercises while underway. First was the certification exercise (CERTEX) 2011, in which Marine ground and aviation units practiced tactics and techniques used during an amphibious raid. Second was the Spanish Amphibious Landing Exercise (PHIBLEX) 2011, which is a biennial exercise between U.S. and Philippine forces. PHIBLEX is specifically designed to strengthen professional and personal bonds between the armed forces of the two allied nations. Upon completion of both exercises, Essex provided support for President Obama's visit to Bali, Indonesia, for the South East Asian Nations Summit.