By Lt. j.g. Craig Veech
HSM-74 Public Affairs Officer

Dec. 30, marked the return of the Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 "Swamp Foxes" to their homeport of NAS Jacksonville from the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) strike group.

The Swamp Foxes completed a 7-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in Iraq and Syria - as well as Maritime Security Operations (MSO) in the Gulf of Oman and the Red Sea. 

While the main body of the squadron was embarked on CVN 69, three Swamp Fox combat elements were embarked with two helicopters each on the USS San Jacinto (CG 56), USS Nitze (DDG 94), and USS Mason (DDG 87).

Throughout the deployment, operations took Swamp Foxes from the Atlantic Ocean, through the Mediterranean Sea and Arabian Sea, to the primary operating area of the Arabian Gulf.

HSM-74's primary mission area is the protection of the strike group through anti-surface warfare (ASUW) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

However, the unique capabilities of the MH-60R allow the pilots and aircrew to perform a variety of missions that include working with Coast Guard Advanced Interdiction Team (AIT) to board vessels suspected of smuggling and providing humanitarian operations to vessels stranded at sea.

The Squadron was fortunate enough to work other nations including Great Britain, France, Australia and Turkey for different operations and exercises in addition to the different assets of the air wing.

Overall, the Swamp Foxes flew 1,800 sorties for an impressive 5,000 flight hours - all mishap free. 

HSM-74 Commanding Officer Cmdr. Daniel Testa said, "The men and women of HSM-74 performed admirably in some of the most grueling conditions. I could not be any more proud of their performance and contribution to the CVN Battle Axe Team."

While every sailor of HSM-74 worked hard to ensure the success of the mission, there were opportunities for some rest and relaxation.

Ports of call for the squadron included European cities in Italy, Greece and France along with Middle Eastern cities in Bahrain, Oman, and the UAE.

Most importantly, the sailors of HSM-74 looked forward to returning home to their families and friends. Without the support of their loved ones, the Swamp Foxes would not be able to put all their effort and focus into ensuring a successful deployment. "Fear the Fox!"