NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- USS Halyburton (FFG 40), its two Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicles and Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 42, Det. 2, returned to Naval Station Mayport Aug. 3, completing a seven-month deployment.
"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 commanding officer of Halyburton. Schmidt turned command of Halyburton over to Cmdr. Bertram Hodge during a change of command ceremony Aug. 2.
During its deployment, Halyburton operated under Combined Task Force 508 along with with USS Bainbridge (DDG 96) and other partner nations in both the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.
The Halyburton team crew performed tasks under NATO Maritime Group 2, conducted numerous counter-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden and conducted intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in support of Operation Unified Protector, employing the MQ-8B Fire Scouts.
"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, assisted a Yemeni dhow that had been adrift for several days in late January and, while in the Mediterranean Sea, enforced United Nations-sanctioned resolutions ensuring illegal weapons did not enter Libya.
HSL-42 Det. 2 simultaneously operated SH-60 Seahawk helicopters and unmanned MQ-8B flight operations during Halyburton's transits through the straits of Hormuz and Bab Al Mandeb.
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 Naval Air Station 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."
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