SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The "Saberhawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 departed Naval Air Station North Island Dec. 13, to meet Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and the rest of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9 for a deployment to the western Pacific Command and Central Command areas of responsibility.
With three detachments already deployed with a cruiser and two destroyers, 25 Sailors flew out on five MH-60R Seahawks to meet up with Carrier Air Wing 2.
HSM-77's primary missions are anti-surface warfare and anti-submarine warfare related, in addition to being both the eyes and ears of the strike group, said Cmdr. Kenneth Strong, squadron commanding officer.
The squadron returned from a six-month deployment in March of this year. During the short turnaround between deployments the squadron went through a surge sustainment period, mission system upgrades, and a wide range of training to compensate for a 45 percent turnover in the maintenance department, said Strong.
"Replacing the Sailors, their qualifications, their leadership positions, experience, and the breadth and depth of their exposure is extremely difficult," said Strong, noting that he is fully confident and proud of the work put into training and qualifying the pilots, aircrew and maintainers.
Since Lincoln will not be returning to the West Coast after this deployment, HSM-77 will make a three to four-day flight across the country; the second cross-country flight these relatively new aircraft have made since being assembled in New York, said Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (AW/FMF) Tobin Abrams, HSM-77 maintenance control desk chief.
HSM-77 and its 270 Sailors deploys as part of Carrier Air Wing 2 aboard Lincoln. Detachments 2, 3 and 5, with two helicopters for each detachment, deployed earlier this month with USS Cape St. George (CG 71), USS Sterret (DDG 104), and USS Momsen (DDG 92), respectively. HSM-77 was recently presented the Sikorsky Golden Wrench Award for maintenance excellence.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Commander, Naval Air Forces, visit www.navy.mil/local/airpac/.