Along with two Fire Scout unmanned air vehicles and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42, Det. 2, USS Halyburton (FFG 40)returned from an active seven-month deployment Aug. 3.
“Every Halyburton sailor can be proud of our accomplishments during this deployment; the work was hard, the hours were long and the mission was challenging and worthwhile,” said Cmdr. John Schmidt, former Halyburton commanding officer.
Prior to turning over Halyburton to Cmdr. Bertram Hodge in ceremonies yesterday, Schmidt and the Halyburton team operated under Combined Task Force 508 with USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) and other Allied navies in both 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. The crew took on the demanding tasks of NATO Maritime Group Two, performed numerous counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and conducted Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of Operation Unified Protector, utilizing the MQ-8B Fire Scout.
“It was a great opportunity to bring Fire Scout out to the fleet and see how it performs in real world operations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Curtis Webster, HSL-42 Det. 2 officer- in-charge.
The Halyburton/HSL-42 Det. 2 team also assisted in the rescue of 13 hostages aboard the pirated vessel SL Irene and, while in the Mediterranean Sea, enforced United Nations sanctioned resolutions ensuring illegal weapons did not fall into the hands of pro-Gaddafi forces.
HSL-42 Det. 2 simultaneously fielded manned SH-60 and unmanned MQ-8B flight operations for airborne support of Halyburton’s transits through the Straits of Hormuz and Bab Al Mandeb. The MQ-8B operators pushed the unmanned helicopter to its operational limits, setting records for maximum altitude, range, and endurance. More than one thousand deployment flight hours were recorded, with 438 hours flown by Fire Scout.
“The success of this deployment has given leverage to the Fire Scout program as a viable platform to conduct ISR operations in a maritime environment,” said Schmidt.
“Fire Scout’s outstanding performance is greatly attributed to personnel aboard the Halyburton,” said Capt. Patrick Smith, Fire Scout Program Manager at Patuxent River, Md. “The respective commands recognized the importance of their contribution to operating the Fire Scout system and the immediate impact it has the warfighter.”