This is the final article in a four-part series focused on Adm. Bob Papp’s official visits to Malta, Bahrain, Singapore and Guam.
Written by Cmdr. Rick Wester.
Commandant of the Coast Guard Adm. Bob Papp addressed Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25 – the Island Knights – in Guam last week, thanking them for their outstanding support of Coast Guard search and rescue operations. The Coast Guard has no helicopters stationed in Guam and has relied upon HSC-25 since its formation in 1984 for airlift assistance with both maritime and over-land search and rescue.
HSC-25 is the U.S. Navy’s only forward deployed expeditionary helicopter squadron and is capable of a variety of missions including anti-surface warfare, naval special warfare support, personnel recovery, vertical replenishment and many others. Despite having to maintain proficiency in these many areas, HSC-25’s 386 active duty sailors proudly stand the watch, maintaining a 24 hours a day, seven days a week search and rescue alert status with 10 MH-60 helicopters.
“HSC-25 is a very busy unit with a lot on their plate, but they are consistently ‘Semper Paratus-Always Ready’ to answer our call for assistance,” said the Commandant. “I’m glad I was able to thank them in person for all of their efforts to maintain peak readiness to keep people safe. Our services have a long, proud history together and that shared heritage continues here today.”
Since the unit formed in 1984, they have rescued more than 1,100 people and have received three Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendations. In addition, the Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert recently presented HSC-25 the Navy’s Search and Rescue Model Manager Excellence Award. This annual award is presented to recognize selfless commitment in the field of search and rescue above and beyond the call of duty.
According to Capt. Casey White, commander of Coast Guard Sector Guam, the coordination during a rescue mission is rapid.
“Under a memorandum of understanding between the Navy and Coast Guard, HSC-25’s commanding officer has local authority to launch to support Coast Guard search and rescue missions,” said White. “Their response capabilities are very similar to a Coast Guard air station, including trained rescue swimmers, and they very quickly respond.”
Cmdr. Ruben Ramos, HSC-25’s commanding officer, said his unit benefits from the relationship as well.
“The actual search and rescue missions combined with all of the joint training that we do with Coast Guard Sector Guam really helps to keep our skills sharp,” said Ramos. “It is definitely a unique relationship.”
Afterwards, the Commandant conducted an “All-Hands” meeting with spouses and Coast Guardsmen stationed in Guam and Saipan to discuss current Coast Guard issues, answer questions and to present four Good Shipmate awards.
The visit to Guam was the Commandant’s final engagement during his 13-day international trip.
“I had two objectives for this trip,” said the Commandant. “First, to meet with and thank Coast Guardsmen who are stationed overseas and second, to strengthen our international partnerships. All around, it was a very productive trip.”