SAN DIEGO – Six flight crews from the “Merlins” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 provided firefighting support Thursday to CalFire in response to wildfires throughout San Diego County.
At the request of CalFire, the six specially-equipped MH-60S Seahawks are supporting firefighting efforts in the vicinity of Camp Pendleton, by conducting aerial water drops.
In August 2011, U.S. Third Fleet, Naval Air Forces Pacific and Navy Region Southwest entered into a memorandum of understanding with the state. Under the agreement, naval units provide helicopters when notified by CalFire of weather conditions favorable to wildfires.“The critical part of our role is supporting CalFire to help save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate great property damage,” said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Stansfield, the Third Fleet’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities lead. “We have Navy personnel and their families that live and work in the areas of San Diego threatened by the fires. Our efforts support both our people and the communities we live in.”
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Wing Pacific prepares ready, trained and certified resources to combat wildfires and crews conduct semi-annual training with to ensure an immediate response in support of local authorities in emergencies. The assigned crews are capable of being airborne within four hours of receiving a request for assistance.
Navy helicopters will continue to assist in San Diego until as long as CalFire seeks the aid.
Press Release from the US Navy – U.S. Third Fleet Public Affairs