DUNBAR, WV (WOWK) – On Wednesday afternoon the Kanawha River was filled with dozens of naval helicopters as part of a joint training operation between the West Virginia Swift Water Rescue Team and the U.S. Navy.
“The mountain environment is something we can transfer to all of our deployments world wide,” explained Commanding Officer Chandra Newman, with the HSC-5.
U.S. Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Five (HSC-5) Nightdippers are based at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. HSC-5 provides vertical lift Search and Rescue, Logistics, Anti-Surface Warfare, Special Operations Forces Support, and Combat Search and Rescue capabilities for Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7).
The training scenario will involve HSC-5 rescuing mock victims out of the Kanawha River via aerial hoist operations with MH-60S Seahawk helicopters. Helicopters could also be spotted at the Dunbar Bingo Club.
While this is the first time HSC-5 will be conducting riverine rescue operations in West Virginia, this is not the first time the West Virginia Swift Water Rescue Team has hosted training sessions as part of Yeager Airport and the West Virginia National Guard’s Home Base program.
“We’ve been doing this training here in Dunbar for about three years now. Since we built the Swift Water Rescue Team after the 2016 flood,” said LTC Wally Hatfield.
This training cycle brings more than 100 sailors to Charleston for 15 days. During those two weeks, HSC-5 bases their training at Yeager Airport.
“It is very welcoming, very friendly,” added Newman. “It really is just a beautiful state and the training environment here provides us an efficient way to train that we don’t get back home.”