ABOARD USS CONSTELLATION, At Sea (NNS) -- Crews from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare Squadron (HS) 2 and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Warfare Squadron Light (HSL) 47, both embarked aboard USS Constellation (CV 64), recently aided in the seizure of two Iraqi offshore oil terminals, averting potential environmental disaster.
Working in conjunction with the Navy SEALs and three additional squadrons from separate naval units, the helicopters provided command and control support, along with close air support to the SEALs as they seized the terminals.
Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Sandberg, who piloted one of the helicopters in the operation, said, "All the crews came together efficiently to participate in the takedown of the two platforms."
The two-mile long Iraqi terminals are the sole transfer point for Iraq's oil in the Arabian Gulf. Prior to the takeover, officials had warned that Saddam Hussein might ignite the terminals or open them, allowing oil to flow freely into the Gulf. In 1991, several milllion barrels of crude oil were released into this body of water, creating an enormous environmental disaster.
Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Malone, HSL-47 Detachment 4 officer-in-charge and pilot of one of the choppers participating in the operation, commented, "The platforms were seized to prevent an economic or environmental disaster in the Gulf."
Emphasizing the environmental significance to embedded media, Rear Adm. Barry Costello, Commander, Middle East Force, said, "Twenty-four hours ago, we took control of the oil platforms in the Gulf. It's an incredible accomplishment - they can no longer flood the Gulf."
Both HS-2 and HSL-47 are based at North Island Naval Air Station in Coronado, Calif. Both squadrons provide plane guard, search and rescue, logistical and a variety of other missions while training extensively to support operations with the SEALs.
Constellation is currently deployed to the Northern Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the multinational coalition effort to liberate the Iraqi people, eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and end the regime of Saddam Hussein.
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