Late at night, while underway conducting a readiness evaluation and deck landing qualifications June 5, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) conducted its 1000th safe helicopter landing of 2014.
A helicopter from Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 72 marked the occasion, as it landed on the cruiser, underway supporting helicopter squadrons to qualify their pilots. It was business as usual for the Gettysburg crew, which recently returned from a nine-month deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility where they supported the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Working with the helicopter detachment on deployment was cool,” said Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class Devante Sims. “It took a lot of teamwork to conduct as many helicopter operations as we did, but they would come out to help us and we would help them. It worked well.”
This milestone signifies yet another step toward ensuring safety. During deployment, Gettysburg worked mostly with aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 3, but over the past few nights, Gettysburg has welcomed pilots from various squadrons in the Jacksonville and Mayport areas.
“Once deployment ends, maintaining our qualifications becomes more challenging,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert Elizondo, HSM 74 operations officer. “However, having ships that are capable of supporting night after night of landings on our behalf ensures that our pilots are able to continue to operate at the highest levels while providing valuable training to newer pilots and ship’s personnel.”
Homeported in Mayport, Gettysburg is currently underway supporting Commander, Task Force 80 tasking.
Press Release, June 16, 2014; Image: Wikimedia