Two US Army Blackhawk helicopters created history recently with the first landings on board a US Army vessel since the Vietnam War.
After a break of thirty years, the Blackhawks touched down on the deck of US Army vessel HSV-X1 Joint Venture at 10.57 am (Korean time) on Thursday 25 March, 2004.
HSV-X1 Joint Venture, (the HSV stands for High Speed Vessel ) built at the Hobart shipyard of Incat Australia, has been on lease to the US military since late 2001. The high speed ship completed a major refit at the Tasmanian Incat yard in late 2003 and is now stationed in Hawaii under the command of US Army Pacific. The vessel was in Korean waters to support the Army’s Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration exercise (RSO&I) run in the last week of March.
The Blackhawk helicopters assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, 17th Aviation Brigade were taking part in exercises off the coast of Korea where the historic occasion took place. “This is awesome having Army aircraft landing on an Army vessel”, said Lt Col Steven Boylan, Public Affairs officer for 8th US Army. “This is the first time an Army pilot has landed on an Army vessel in 30 years”.
Historically significant for the US Army, the landing of helicopters on board HSV – X1 Joint Venture has been carried out on numerous occasions but only by the US Navy, when the Navy operated the vessel. The two helicopters offloaded passengers then performed pilot landing certifications operations, consisting of each pilot landing on the flight deck at least five times.
The Army’s last ship board landings occurred during the Vietnam War on board USNS Corpus Christi Bay, when the ship was used for helicopter maintenance to repair aircraft. The Corpus Christi Bay was a US Navy ship recommissioned by the Army in the mid 60’s, with the USNS portion of its name being retained.
HSV -X1 Joint Venture demonstrated how high speed vessels like this, supported by aircraft, can expand the Army’s capability to rapidly move/remove troops and equipment from remote areas previously thought inaccessible.
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