By Staff Writer | October 2, 2015
The U.S. Navy has reestablished a minesweeping helicopter training squadron this week two decades after it was disbanded. Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 12 (HM-12) will be based at Norfolk Naval Station to train new pilots in the Navy’s MH-53E Sea Dragon—a modified Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion used primarily for airborne mine countermeasures. The MH-53E had gone without a dedicated training squadron since the HM-12 was originally disbanded in 1994, with new pilots trained by various other squadrons over the years. The MH-53E was to be replaced in the minesweeping missions by the Lockheed Martin/Sikorsky Aircraft MH-60R. But the “Romeo" and its counter-mine systems have been unable to demonstrate the endurance to fly effective minesweeping missions or to return data on mines promptly to naval commanders. Also, the CH-53K replacement for the U.S. Marine Corps’ CH-53Es, which conceivably take on the Sea Dragon’s mission if the Navy acquired it, has been delayed several years. According to the Navy Times, "the lack of a viable replacement means [the MH-53E] will remain in the fleet for at least another decade."