Author & photography: Ian French

HSC-2 was previously Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 2 (HC-2), also known as the “Fleet Angels” (previously the “Circuit Riders”), and is a helicopter squadron of the United States Navy based at NAS Norfolk operating the Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk.  The Fleet Angels are a Fleet Replacement Squadron providing trained MH-60S crew to units on the East Coast.

The unit’s lineage can be traced back to the establishment of Helicopter Utility Squadron 2 (“HU-2”) in 1948 at Lakehurst, New Jersey.  In 1965 the unit’s designation was changed to HC-2 and in 1973 the squadron moved to Jacksonville, Florida.   Over the years, the Fleet Angels distinguished itself with many firsts: First MEDEVAC, first blimp rescue, first all-weather day/night detachment, first night Doppler rescue and first night full autorotation to a flight deck.  Their existence was justified by their superior record and astonishing 2,318 rescues.  The “Fleet Angels” were disestablished on 30 September 1977, falling victim to budget restraints after 30 years of proud service.

10 years later, the Circuit Riders of HC-2 were established in 1987 at NAS Norfolk from detachments of HM-12, HC-6, and HS-1 in order to unify the combat support elements of these dissimilar Atlantic Fleet squadrons.  Since its recommisioning, HC-2 has participated in numerous fleet exercises building an impressive reputation of mission accomplishment and safety.  In order to continue the proud tradition and history of the oldest helicopter squadron in the Navy, they reconnected with their roots and reclaimed the name Fleet Angels.

In the early days of the squadron they operated the Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King in SH-3G, UH-3H and UH-3H(ET) versions, as well as the Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon.

In 2006 HC-2 transitioned to HSC-2.  Along with having been re-designated HSC-2, the Fleet Angels converted from using the H-3 Sea King to the MH-60S Knighthawk and their mission changed to being the East Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron for the MH-60S Knighthawk.

As a Fleet Replacement Squadron, HSC-2 trains pilots and aircrew to fly the MH-60S in preparation for a variety of worldwide missions, including Fleet Logistics Support, Combat  Search and Rescue, Medical Evacuation, Armed Helicopter and Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HA/DR).  The squadron fulfils secondary missions of Theatre Security (TSC) and Governmental Training Courses and COMSECONDFLT Operational Support.

A standard crew for the MH-60S is one pilot, one copilot and two tactical air crewmen depending on mission.

Special thanks to Mark Forest, Jon Astley, the PAO NAS Norfolk and HSC-2 for their help in producing this article.

Aviation Press Limited owns the copyrights to this article & associated photographs.

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