MH-53E  164861/BJ-544 of HM-14. Photo taken at NAS Whiting Field, Florida . Oct 24, 2018.Final mission for HM-14

On 8 December 2022, Naval Station Norfolk (VA) based Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 14 Vanguard ('BJ-5xx') made its last operational flight with the Sikorsky MH-53E Sea Dragon.

The squadron, one of three US Navy's Anti Mine Countermeasures (AMCM) squadrons, will officially be disbanded in July 2023 and some of the Sea Dragons and personnel will transfer to HM-12 Sea Dragons ('AN-43x') and HM-15 Blackhawks ('TB-xx') which are also based at NS Norfolk.

The disbandment of this squadron means the end of 45 years of service. A service that started in May 1978 with eight RH-53D Sea Stallions. Transition to the MH-53E started in April 1989 and the first deployment overseas took place not long thereafter in October 1990 when Detachment One was based in Abu Dhabi during operation Desert Shield. In 1995 it was merged with HM-18 thus becoming the first squadron with a mix of active duty and reserve personnel.

From 1999 to 2003 a permanent Detachment was maintained in Manama, Bahrein. The squadron also took part in humanitarian missions In Haiti, Louisiana (Hurricane Katrina) and Lebanon. A second permanent Detachment was established in 2007 at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan. In 2008 this Det 1 moved to Pohang, South Korea, providing support to the 7th Fleet.

The disbandment means that only two AMCM squadron are left. The US Navy is in a process of evaluating its requirement for AMCM missions beyond 2025 and it is expected that the outcome may include both manned and unmanned systems.

Photo by Carey Mavor (Scramble Archive)

Subscribe to Scramble

As a member you get access to all our
premium content and benefits learn more


Follow us and keep in touch