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From Aloha to Hola, Hawaii-based squadron supports partners in Latin America

By 2nd Lt. Mark McDonough | Marine Corps Base Hawaii | October 8, 2020

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Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Thirty-Seven Detachment One, the “Easyriders,” deployed earlier this year onboard the USS Preble (DD88) to the U.S. 4th Fleet area operations to conduct enhanced counter narcotics operations in support of U.S. Southern Command and Joint Interagency Task Force South’s missions in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean Oceans.

 "HSM-37 Detachment One successfully supported limiting the transport of narcotics in the region," said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Barnikel, the HSM-37 Detachment One Officer in Charge. "By conducting cooperative maritime security operations we supported U.S. FOURTH Fleet forces, enhancing partnerships and fostering security in the Eastern Pacific and Caribbean."

 It had been over six years since the Hawaii-based squadron has found themselves executing missions in support of 4th Fleet. Typically, these type of deployments can last as long as seven months or as short as three, which was the case here for Detachment One. Since their return to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, HSM-37 has deployed two additional detachments to support Counter Narcotics Operations in 4th Fleet’s waters.

 The Easyriders’ MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters were utilized to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance for the USS Preble and Joint Interagency Task Force South. Additionally, HSM-37 aircraft crews were also trained and qualified to conduct airborne use of force as well as warning and disabling fire against maritime traffic that fails to stop for searches.

 “This was conducted in conjunction with a U.S Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) who embarked and deployed with our team,” said Barnikel. Throughout the deployment, HSM-37 worked alongside forces from a number of partner nations who were also taking part in the counter narcotics mission. According to Barnikel, “HSM-37 Detachment One supported the interdiction of an estimated 2000 kilograms of cocaine during their time on station in the 4th Fleet AOR.”

 “The most rewarding part of the deployment for me personally was watching my team of professional maintainers and aircrew prepare and execute short notice tasking around the clock time and time again,” said Barnikel. “HSM-37.1 met 100% of requested tasking during the deployment.”


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