The SH-60 Seahawk is the Navy’s variant of the ubiquitous H-60 family, a base type which has been built in the thousands and serves thirty nations.
Developed to the replace the SH-2 Seasprite and carry the new LAMPS III avionics suite, the SH-60 Seahawk retained over 80% compatibility with the Army’s UH-60 Blackhawk. The major visible change to the design was removing the Army type’s tailwheel and replacing it with a larger wheel closer to the main gear, giving the helicopter a smaller “footprint” for landing on the landing decks of small ships. It also gained weapons pylons, larger fuel tanks, folding blades and tail, and more powerful engines.
The SH-60B entered service in 1984 and immediately began proving its worth. In addition to being a potent antisubmarine warfare platform, the Seahawk also handily performed anti-surface warfare and search and rescue missions. The type quickly replaced its predecessor on most shipboard deployments, with two carried aboard almost every Navy frigate, destroyer, and cruiser at sea.
In addition to the B-model, the Navy also developed the SH-60F, commonly called the “Oceanhawk,” to replace the SH-3 Sea Kings aboard its aircraft carriers. Like the Sea King, it was fitted with a dipping sonar instead of sonobuoys. They also developed the HH-60H, unofficially called the “Rescue Hawk,” as a dedicated search and rescue, anti-surface warfare, and special operations helicopter. It has a side window in place of the SH-60’s sonobuoy rack and an improved electronics and defensive suite.
Today, all three models of the original Seahawk are retired from active duty US Navy service, having performed their final deployments in 2015. They have been replaced by their offspring, the MH-60R and MH-60S. The Romeo model combines the best of all three first-generation Seahawks, utilizing both sonobuoys and dipping sonar in the ASW role, while being permanently fitted for Hellfire missiles and carrying advanced electronics. The Sierra model was developed to replace the CH-46 Sea Knight as a medium lift and troop transport helicopter. The only Seahawk to be fitted with a UH-60-style tailwheel at the end of the tail boom, it’s used aboard aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships for transporting troops into combat, and supporting them once there. They are also fitted with potent mine-hunting gear.
While we are still awaiting the data cards for most of her service, we know 162102 was accepted by the Navy on October 1, 1984, and originally assigned to HSL-43. During 1987, she was aboard the frigate USS Crommelin, who was part of a force protecting convoys from Iranian attack during Operation Earnest Will. This was also the first deployment of a frigate with two of the new LAMPS III helicopters. She retired with HSL-37.
|Role:||Antisubmarine and multirole helicopter|
|Crew:||3 to 4|
|Passengers and Cargo:||With reconfiguration, up to 5 passengers, 4,100 lbs (1,900 kg) cargo internally, or 6,000 lbs (2,700 kg) cargo slung externally|
|Length:||64 feet 8 inches (19.75 meters)|
|Rotor Diameter:||53 feet 8 inches (16.35 meters)|
|Height:||17 feet 2 inches (5.2 meters)|
|Empty Weight:||13,648 lbs (6,190 kg)|
|Max. Weight:||21,884 lb (9,927 kg)|
|Powerplant:||2x General Electric T700-GE-410C turboshafts, 1,890 shp (1,410 kW) each|
|Max. Speed:||168 mph (146 kts, 270 kph)|
|Range:||518 miles (450 nm, 834 km)|
|Armament:|| Up to three air-dropped torpedoes or two light anti-ship missiles, one 7.62mm or 12.7mm machine gun; with optional stub wings, 4 Hellfire missiles