USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4, as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14, played a vital role in Exercise Valiant Shield 06, held June 19-23 in the Guam operating area.
The squadron is currently embarked aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), the Navy's newest Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, and has been an important element of the ship's maiden deployment in support of the global war on terrorism and maritime security operations in the Persian Gulf and Western Pacific Ocean.
Valiant Shield 2006 involved more than 20,000 Sailors, Airmen, Soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. The exercise also utilized more than 300 aircraft and 28 ships from the Ronald Reagan, USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Groups, as well as the Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. The three-carrier exercise ensured that joint forces can respond to any regional contingency quickly.
"Coming off the deployment, we're pretty much on our game," said Cmdr. Scott Bischoff, HS-4's commanding officer. "We've been operating at sea and in the 5th fleet area of responsibility for quite a while, so we can roll right into the exercise."
During Valiant Shield, the Navy operated approximately 234 aircraft, including 24 SH-60F and SH-60H Seahawk helicopters from four different squadrons, including HS-4.
"The coordination of sharing our available assets will be a challenge during the exercises," said Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Rosa Wilson, command master chief of HS-4. "All four of the squadrons participating have the same model helicopter."
According to Bischoff, the main purpose of the Seahawks during Valiant Shield was undersea warfare (USW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW). The SH-60s paired up as three teams of two, employing sonar systems that can operate as deep as 1,575 feet.
"There will be five submarines operating for our particular exercise," said Aviation Warfare System Operator 1st Class (AW/NAC) John Showerman, HS-4's leading petty officer. "We'll go out and hover at about 60 feet, drop sonar buoys and track them down."
HS-4 has distinguished itself throughout its 54-year history in activities ranging from becoming the first ASW squadron to deploy aboard an aircraft carrier, to participating in and pioneering techniques for NASA's Apollo capsule recoveries in the 1960s and 1970s.
Operating in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, the U.S. 7th Fleet is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets, with approximately 50 ships, 120 aircraft and 20,000 Sailors and Marines assigned at any given time.
To learn more about Valiant Shield, visit the Web site at www.pacom.mil.
For related news, visit the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.