Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 15 (HELSEACOMBATRON 15)

HSC-15 ‘Red Lions’


hsc-15 red lions insignia crest patch badge helicopter sea combat squadron helseacombatron mh-60s seahawk knighthawk

hsc-15 red lions helicopter sea combat squadron mh-60s seahawk knighthawk nas north island san diego california



established: November 15, 2012 (redesignated from HS-15)

Homebase: NAS North Island, San Diego, California

Carrier Air Wing: CVW-17

Aircraft Carrier: USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)



Sikorsky MH-60S Seahawk (Knighthawk)




May 2015


helicopter sea combat squadron hsc-15 red lions mh-60s seahawk knighthawk nas north island special colors


hsc-15 red lions mh-60s seahawk knighthawk agm-114 hellfire missile




helicopter sea combat squadron hsc-15 red lions nas north island


sikorsky mh-60s seahawk knighthawk hsc-15 red lions



March 2015


March 2015


March 2015


MH-60S Seahawk (HSC-15) aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) - May 2014


hsc-15 red lions helicopter sea combat squadron mh-60s seahawk knighthawk cvw-17 uss carl vinson cvn 70

February 2014


February 2014


January 2014


January 2014


January 2014


May 2013




SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 15 officially transitioned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 15 during a ceremony, Nov. 15, 2012 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."



from the HSC-15 website:


As an aircraft carrier-based squadron, HS-15 has operated aboard eleven East Coast carriers: USS AMERICA (CV 66), USS NIMITZ (CVN 68), USS INDEPENDENCE (CV 62), USS FORRESTAL (CV 59), USS SARATOGA (CV 60), USS ENTERPRISE (CV 65), USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER (CVN 69), USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73), USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67), and USS HARRY S. TRUMAN (CVN 75). Now as a West Coast squadron, HS-15 is attached to the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70).

Over the years, operations have taken HS-15 to the Atlantic, Arctic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans, as well as the Adriatic, Arabian, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Norwegian Seas. During deployments, the Red Lions have long played a role in U.S. foreign policy and military actions, including contingency operations with the U.S. Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon during Operation FLUID DRIVE; combat operations during URGENT FURRY in Grenada; extensive North Atlantic antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations with NATO; PROVIDE COMFORT in Iraq; PROVIDE PROMISE and DENY FLIGHT in the former Yugoslavia; DECISIVE ENDEAVOR and SOUTHERN WATCH in the Arabian Gulf; DELIBERATE GUARD and COOPERATIVE ASSEMBLY supporting U.S. involvement in the Balkans conflict; IRAQI FREEDOM in Iraq; ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN in Afghanistan; and UNIFIED RESPONSE in Haiti for humanitarian support. Throughout its entire history, HS-15 has the proud distinction of rescuing or evacuating no fewer than 700 personnel.

HELICOPTER ANTISUBMARINE SQUADRON FIFTEEN was commissioned on 29 October 1971 to fly the SH-3 Sea King at Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey. This new squadron was commissioned for the purpose of testing and then fulfilling a new naval concept: SEA CONTROL. HS-15’s first years were spent assisting the Interim Sea Control Ship evaluations onboard the USS GUAM (LPH-9). On 21 January 1972, only 80 days after its commissioning and one month after receiving its full complement of SH-3G aircraft, HS-15 deployed for the first time.

The first major event in HS-15’s illustrious history occurred on 23 June 1972. Hurricane Agnes had severely flooded the Wilkes-Barres/Scranton area in northern Pennsylvania. HS-15 sent five of its aircraft for disaster relief and evacuated or rescued 427 people. Without any rest for the weary, HS-15 was deployed two days later to continue its Sea Control Concept evaluation. This intrepid squadron transitioned to the new SH-3H helicopter in August 1972, eventually joining Helicopter Sea Control Group ONE on 29 September 1972. The Sea Combat Control mission gave the squadron the opportunity to fly over the polar icecaps and relax during their first port call to Lisbon, Portugal on 20 June 1973. In November of that same year, HS-15 moved from Lakehurst, New Jersey to Jacksonville, Florida. The final Sea Combat Control Evaluation was held on 18 April 1974. By finally finishing the first mission assigned, HS-15 was allowed to shift from the Sea Control environment to the CV environment and operate as a conventional HS squadron.

During a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea in 1976 onboard the USS AMERICA, HS-15 provided actual evacuations in Lebanon during operation FLUID DRIVE. During an exercise in the Med, HS-15 continuously tracked a submarine for over an 8 hour period. Following the completion of this training exercise, the submarine transmitted: “Tracked by big dippers all morning. Trying to break helicopter contact proved to be Mission Impossible.” The Red Lions further showed their anti-submarine prowess by tracking and forcing a Soviet sub to surface.

Six years later, during another deployment the Red Lions were tasked to shuttle U.S. Special Envoy Philip Habib to and from Beirut as he negotiated a settlement of the Israeli-PLO conflict. This support allowed Mr. Habib to successfully negotiate a peace treaty that allowed the PLO to evacuate from the besieged city of Beirut. In 1982, for his efforts he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest official honor given to a US citizen by the government.

The high tempo pace continued for HS-15 when they deployed in October of 1983. This deployment was originally scheduled for the Indian Ocean, but events in Grenada forced a divert to the South Caribbean. Throughout the hostilities in Grenada, the Red Lions provided combat SAR service as well as small boat interdiction patrols while operating a forward detachment from the USS MOOSBRUGGER. During this detachment HS-15 rescued 11 wounded personnel from a downed Army helicopter. Four days later, the Red Lions rescued a civilian in the combat zone during a small boat interdiction flight.

The Red Lions were on deployment to the Med aboard the USS FORRESTAL, when the Pan Am hijacking occurred on 5 September 1986. Since the FORRESTAL was in port Naples at the time, an emergency recall was ordered. However, the ship left port missing nearly half of its crew and the Red Lions continuously conducted logistic runs to bring the necessary personnel back aboard.

The squadron’s 1988 deployment took the Red Lions from the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal to the North Arabian Sea. Their presence was to ensure the unobstructed passage of ocean commerce through the Strait of Hormuz into the Persian Gulf. Among the high points of the deployment was the opportunity to meet the Commander-in-Chief, President George H. W. Bush, prior to his “Summit on the Sea” with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Through 1992 and 1993, HS-15 transitioned to a new aircraft, a new carrier, and a new carrier air wing. The Red Lions successfully completed the transition to the new SH-60F/H Seahawk and subsequently joined CVW-17 and the USS SARATOGA. HS-15 led the development of the overwater Night Vision Goggle program, ensured 100 percent of the aircrews were NVG qualified, and integrated with SEAL Team EIGHT to form the most operationally ready Combat Search and Rescue team in the Navy. This training allowed the Red Lions to stand over 1,000 hours of CSAR alert in the Adriatic Sea, supporting Operations PROVIDE PROMISE and DENY FLIGHT off the coast of Bosnia.

1997 provided more change as the Red Lions joined the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER battle group and welcomed their first female pilot into the squadron. The squadron deployed with IKE in April 1998 to the Persian Gulf. However, plans changed with rising escalations in Yugoslavia. During Operation DELIBERATE GUARD, HS-15 logged over 2,500 hours of flight time patrolling the coast of the Adriatic Sea in a perfect position to support any missions.

HS-15 entered the global war on terror on 12 September 2001, the day after the tragic terrorist attacks. Within 24 hours the Red Lions had four aircraft and over half of their Sailors aboard USS GEORGE WASHINGTON in New York City Harbor supporting Combat Air Patrols.

During the first three months of their 2002 deployment on USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, HS-15 actively participated in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and SOUTHERN WATCH, flying numerous SAR flights and standing around the clock combat SAR alerts, enabling CVW-17 aircraft to constantly provide airpower in support of U.S. ground forces in Afghanistan. During deployment, the Red Lions also participated in numerous coalition exercises with allied countries.

In 2005 the Red Lions began preparations for the Central Command Navy Air Ambulance combat MEDEVAC mission in Kuwait. Throughout the year, squadron pilots and aircrew completed U.S. Army Medical Evacuation doctrine schools, flew training missions with Army MEDEVAC pilots at Fort Rucker, and successfully completed a Helicopter Advanced Readiness Program specially designed to earn U.S. Army MEDEVAC certification prior to deployment. In November, the Red Lions, as the lead squadron, along with the Island Knights of HSC-25, formed the 2515th Navy Air Ambulance Detachment, and relieved the 236th Army Air Ambulance Company as the primary MEDEVAC asset in Kuwait and Southern Iraq. It was with great pride that HS-15 assumed the long distinguished “DUSTOFF” call sign which is synonymous with all Medical Evacuation Units.

During this unique and intensive training period, the Red Lions also sent a two helicopter detachment aboard USS HARRY S. TRUMAN to assist with the evacuation and rescue efforts along the U.S. Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina. During Joint Task Force Katrina, HS-15 took charge and was responsible for the starting, launching, landing, and shutting down of all HS, HSL, and HSC helicopters as other communities joined the task force without bringing their own Plane Captains and LSE’s. On top of that, the Red Lions flew 6 to 9 hour flights moving people from the Superdome to the airport while the maintenance department worked a 24 hour schedule. Over 10 days, HS-15 made 72 rescues, 31 evacuations, delivered 12 tons of vital food, and conducted 3 MEDEVACs.

In early 2006, half of the Red Lions deployed to Kuwait while the other half continued MEDEVAC training. In May 2006, the Red Lions deployed their second detachment to Kuwait on Thanksgiving to complete the year-long deployment. While deployed, the 2515th Navy Air Ambulance Detachment flew 1,443 sorties, 2,503 hours, and conducted 331 MEDEVACS transporting 324 patients. The Red Lions’ tireless contribution in Kuwait and Iraq embodied the DUSTOFF credo “When I have your wounded” while instilling the Navy Search and Rescue credo “So Others May Live”.

In January 2009, HS-15 sent a squadron detachment to Barstow, CA to work with the SEAL teams and USMC units. The squadron prepared four HH-60Hs and 63 personnel to travel to Balad, Iraq in direct support of Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component Command. Within 72 hours the Red Lions were flying, and within a week assigned their first mission. After five months of operations, the squadron had tallied 455 combat flight hours resulting in the capture or kill of 21 High Value Targets.

Upon return from Balad, the squadron re-integrated and began to prepare for the upcoming Southern Seas deployment in January 2010. The squadron rapidly shifted from an overland desert environment to a traditional carrier-based helicopter squadron. The Southern Seas deployment was the first part of the huge change for HS-15, as the squadron would move from Jacksonville, Florida to San Diego, California aboard yet another new carrier, the USS CARL VINSON.

On the first day of the deployment, 12 January, Port au Prince, Haiti was rocked with a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. The squadron utilized their five embarked SH-60F/HH-60H Seahawk helicopters in order to support the humanitarian aid mission during Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE. At the end of the operation, the squadron had flown 323 hours, conducted 135 MEDEVACs, and transported 50 tons of food and 75 tons of water. The Southern Seas deployment continued unabated and the squadron arrived at their new home in San Diego in April 2010.

From 2010 to 2011, HS-15 deployed on the CARL VINSON with a WESTPAC deployment. The Red Lions participated in bilateral exercises and conducted training with the Royal Air Force of Oman in the overland mission skill sets. While continuing to train pilots and sailors, the squadron executed daily flight operations in support of ENDURING FREEDOM and NEW DAWN. Once again from November 2011 until May 2012, the Red Lions deployed with the USS CARL VINSON on a WESTPAC deployment. During this deployment HS-15 was invaluable in supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The Red Lions continued to build relations with the Royal Air Force of Oman and build new relations with the Indian Navy during this deployment.

On arriving back to homeport San Diego, HS-15 began transitioning to the new MH-60S helicopter, and the squadron was officially redesignated as HSC-15 on 15 November of 2012. The Red Lions have proven their valor over the course of the past 12 months, executing their primary mission in an operational environment.





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