Lest We Forget: History Repeats Itself; HS-12

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired), Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)

The Triton was one of the first generation of nuclear-powered submarines, and Captain Beach had proved the great capabilities of this new kind of ship, greatly enhancing the nation's prestige at a time when image was one of the weapons of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. For this remarkable achievement Captain Beach was awarded the Legion of Merit, and today Triton's dive wheel is on display in the lobby of Beach Hall, home of the U.S. Naval Institute.

-Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)



Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron 12 (HS-12) was established on 15 July 1977 at NAS North Island, California. The Wyverns were the first Fleet squadron to operate the SH-3H version of the Sea King antisubmarine helicopter.

HS-12 deployed twice with Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) on board the USS America (CV-66), first to the Mediterranean Sea in 1979, and subsequently to the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. In 1983, the Wyverns joined CVW-14 for a round-the-world deployment on board the USS Coral Sea (CV-43).

In June 1984, HS-12 moved to NAF Atsugi, Japan and joined CVW-5 on board the USS Midway (CV-41), the carrier forward-deployed to Japan at the time. Over the next seven years, HS-12 deployed to the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. During 1987-1988, the Wyverns supported Operation Earnest Will, the escort operation for oil tankers in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War.

In late 1990, HS-12 operated from the Midway in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield. In January 1991, during Operation Desert Storm, HS-12 operated rescue detachments from the destroyers Oldendorf (DD-972) and Leftwich (DD-984). On 24 January, the Wyverns inserted SEALs onto Jazirat Qarah Island and carried 29 Iraqi POWs to the custody of a Navy ship. Six days later, HS-12 crews retrieved 20 Iraqi survivors whose ship was sunk in the gulf. The next day, the Wyverns inserted a SEAL team to capture the Khawar Al Amaya oil terminal. A month later, HS-12 gunners set ablaze an Iraqi craft near Bubiyan Island. The Wyverns also deployed SEALs to destroy eight sea mines.

Later in 1991, following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, HS-12 deployed to the Philippines to assist in the evacuation of 1,800 military personnel and their families.

After the Midway was replaced in Japan by the USS Independence (CV-62) in August 1991, HS-12 made numerous deployments in the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Persian Gulf, including operations of Somalia and support of Operation Southern Watch, the enforcement of no-fly zones in Iraq.

HS-12 was disestablished on 30 November 1994, replaced by HS-14 and its new SH-60F Seahawk helicopters.

-Lieutenant Commander Rick Burgess, U.S. Navy (Retired)


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