A closer look at Jacksonville-based Navy assets in combat operations

We’ve told you about the Jacksonville-based Navy ships, helicopters and crews involved in combat operations over the past year. And, as the US Navy continues to serve in the Red Sea, engaging with Iranian-backed Houthi missiles and drones, we wanted to take a closer look at the Jacksonville-based assets involved.

USS Carney

USS Carney, a guided missile destroyer, went out with the USS Gerald R. Ford Strike Group in September, and while the Ford returned to Norfolk last month, the Carney’s deployment was extended. It has now joined the Dwight D. Eisenhower Strike Group. According to US Navy releases, the Carney has shot down at least 27 Houthi missiles and drones so far while deployed in the Middle East. In recognition of that, Navy 5th Fleet Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, visited the ship last month and presented “combat medals” to five sailors for their “exceptional performance” when the warship shot down 14 Houthi air drones on Dec. 16. Every member of the Carney also received a Combat Action Ribbon.

In January, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels launched a missile at the Navy destroyer Carney as it patrolled the Gulf of Aden, forcing it to shoot down the projectile.

USS Mason

USS Mason, guided missile destroyer, deployed with the “Ike” Strike Group in October. Mason responded to a distress call from the Israeli-linked tanker Central Park off the coast of Yemen in December. Houthi gunmen successfully boarded the tanker, but the crew secured themselves in a designated secure space to wait out pirates while continuing to control ship systems. The attackers left the tanker, and tried to get back to Yemen, with the Mason in pursuit. The Mason, aided by a Japanese destroyer, captured the pirates after warning shots and close helo support. Mason also took part in the first big pre-emptive strike on Houthi positions last month.

The Mason left Mayport in October, 2023. “Mason is ready to complete the mission, as we have shown time and time again through the rigorous work ups and training cycle,” said Command Master Chief Carlos Slade. “The crew has executed flawlessly, and they have my full confidence for every mission. I believe the same success the crew has had will continue throughout our deployment.”

USS Thomas Hudner

USS Thomas Hudner is a guided-missile destroyer that went out with the Ford Strike Group in September.During the deployment, the Hudner served as an air defense unit off the coast of Israel and worked closely with allies and partners on various missions. It also shot down a number of attack drones over the Red Sea.

When it returned after eight months, the Navy held its Change of Command ceremony, during which the skipper was awarded the Bronze Star.

Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 74

Helicopter Strike Squadron 74, is a helicopter squadron based at NAS Jax and is attached to the Eisenhower Strike Group, They call themselves the “Swamp Foxes.”

While deployed to the US 5th Fleet area of operations, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 members honored a long standing military tradition during a Change of Command Ceremony as Commander J. Eric Kohut relieved Commander Phillip R. Krites.

The ceremony took place on the flight deck aboard aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) as squadron members watched a flyover featuring two MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters, symbolizing the airborne exchange of command.

Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 70

Another helicopter squadron based at NAS Jax is the Helicopter Maritime Squadron 70 or the “Spartans.” The squadron returned to Jacksonville last month, after a nearly nine-month deployment.

“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of the men and women of Sparta,” said Cmdr. Brian Crosby, HSM-70 commanding officer. “Their dedication to the mission and each other is absolutely awe-inspiring. They were challenged each day and rose to the challenge at every opportunity. We are excited to finally take some hard-earned time to relax and recharge with our families.”

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