Author & photographer: Ian French


NAS Mayport is a US Navy facility in north eastern Florida near Jacksonville and contains both an airfield and a harbour which can accommodate aircraft carriers.  The facility was established in 1942 and is currently the home of the US Navy’s Fourth Fleet.  No aircraft carriers are currently assigned to the port but recent ones have included the USS Forrestal, USS Saratoga and USS John F Kennedy.

The airfield was established in 1944, originally as an auxiliary field.  However, when the second world war ended the airfield was decommissioned for a few years until the US Coast Guard took over the base.  They vacated in 1947 and in 1948 the airfield was reactivated once again, initially under the control of NAS Jacksonville.  With the development and increasing significance of maritime helicopter operations, NAS Mayport became the east coast home of the Light Airborne Multi Purpose System (LAMPS) Mk III units.  NAS Mayport earned its Naval Air Station status in 1988.

Based units are as follows:

HSM-40 Airwolves tail code HK

HSM-46 Grandmasters tail code HQ

HSL-48 Vipers tail code HR

HSL-60 Jaguars tail code NW

HSM-40 Airwolves

Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40 (HSM-40) was established in 1985 to provide training to east coast fleet replacement pilots and aircrew and is one of the two MH-60R Fleet Replacement squadrons.  The squadron’s main roles include Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW), Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC), Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS), Search and Rescue (SAR) and Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP).

The squadron was originally commissioned as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light 40 (HSL-40) and was one of the Navy’s first LAMPS Mk III squadrons flying the Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk.  The squadron had 12 helicopters, three weapons/tactics trainers and two full motion, full visual flight simulators.

In November 2009 HSL-40 changed its name from Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 40 to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 40 and converted to the Sikorsky MH-60R.  The unit has approximately 15 helicopters on strength.

HSM-46 Grandmasters

HSM-46 was originally commissioned as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light 46 (HSL-46) in April 1988 flying the Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk and with a mission to train and support combat ready detachments to LAMPS MK III capable ships of the Atlantic fleet.

The squadron currently deploys 10 detachments to Atlantic fleet ships.  A detachment typically consists of one to two helicopters, five to six pilots, two to three sensor operators, a maintenance chief and eight to twelve maintenance crew.

The squadron transitioned to the MH-60R in 2012 and became HSM-46.

HSL-48 Vipers

HSL-48 was commissioned as Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light 48 (HSL-48) in September 1989 beginning with just three Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawks.   The squadron’s mission is to train and support combat ready detachments to LAMPS Mk III capable ships of the Atlantic fleet.  The squadron is deploying detachments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

HSL-60 Jaguars

HSL-60 is a Naval Reserve squadron established in April 2001 and the Reserves’ only LAMPS Mk III squadron.  The unit trains and deploys combat ready Sikorsky SH-60B Seahawk detachments primarily for Fleet support and for counter-drug operations in the Caribbean and Pacific oceans. The squadron is fully trained in the full roles provided the full Navy squadrons.

The SH-60B versus the MH-60R

The concept of the MH-60R was to combine the capabilities of the SH-60B and SH-60F (anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and search and rescue (SAR)), and at the same time incorporate the latest advances in technology and systems.

A comparison of the two helicopters is shown below.


Max weight

Max load

Max speed







9,927 kg

3,031 kg

146 knots

450 nm

12,000 ft

2 x GE T700-GE-401C

2 x 1,800 shp

3 x Mk 54 torpedoes

4 x Hellfire missiles

7.62mm machine gun



10,659 kg

3,764 kg

146 knots

450 nm

14,847 ft

2 x GE T700-GE-401C

2 x 1,800 shp

3 x Mk54 torpedoes

8 x Hellfire missiles

7.62mm machine gun

Special thanks to Mark Forest, Jon Astley, the PAO NAS Mayport and HSM-40 for their help in producing this article.

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

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