The “Proud Warriors” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 72 returned home in time for the holidays Dec. 15 after completing an eight month deployment aboard with Carrier Air Wing 1 (CVW 1) aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). The squadron’s seven MH-60R helicopters flew into the station as family members and friends greeted the aircrew home.
CVW 1 departed April 11, 2018, as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG) on a regularly scheduled deployment as part of the ongoing rotation of forward deployed forces supporting maritime security operations while operating in international waters across the globe.
A first for HSTCSG and CVW 1 was returning to Norfolk in mid-July for a working port visit. Known as Dynamic Fleet Employment (DFE) and partnered with the Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), the initiative allows the U.S. Navy to strategically predictable to our allies, while remaining operationally unpredictable to adversaries. The final stage of the OFRP process allows the forces to be deployable until the beginning of the next maintenance cycle. These forces will remain flexible and ready on short notice to deploy whenever and wherever the nation needs.
They left Norfolk again in late August and returned to continue their deployment conducting a variety of missions in the 2nd, 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations, including forward naval presence, maritime security operations, and theater security cooperation.
In October, Truman and the air wing took part in “Trident Juncture,” the largest NATO naval exercise since the Cold War, when they joined all 29 NATO member nations, as well as partners Sweden and Finland, flying sorties at sea and on Norwegian land ranges. They became the first aircraft carrier to conduct sustained operations in the Arctic in almost 30 years.
The air wing also provided the first-ever cross-continent contribution to “Exercise Baltic Operations” from the Adriatic Sea and flew integrated flight operations with French Naval Aviation aircraft as part of French Air Defense week, hosting French Dassault Rafale M Fighters conducting touch-and-go operations aboard Truman. They also flew 210 combat sorties in support of “Operation Inherent Resolve”.
CVW-1 conducted bilateral operations with Canada, France, Norway, the United Kingdom, Italy, Portugal, Morocco and Germany. All told, the air wing spent 229 days underway and sailed almost 73,000 miles. They flew 12,215 sorties (393 were combat sorties), logged more than 26,000 flight hours, (2,808 in combat), employed 47 weapons and made 9,657 arrested landings, or “traps.”