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USS George Washington Helicopters To Return

Helicopters based at Naval Air Station North Island that accompanied the aircraft carrier USS George Washington to Norfolk are scheduled to return Thursday, according to the Navy. Six choppers of the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 are scheduled to arrive Thursday afternoon. The "Blue Hawks" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 78 came back Wednesday, the Navy said. Both squadrons fly variants of the MH-60 chopper, which provide support for surface warfare, special forces operations, search-and-rescue and anti- submarine missions. They were deployed for four months as part of Carrier Air Wing 2, and participated in a major exercise in the South Pacific. The George Washington was one of three aircraft carriers that swapped home ports this year. The vessel sailed from Japan to San Diego, and subsequently around the tip of South America to Virginia, where its nuclear power plant will be refueled. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, which completed its nuclear refueling earlier this year, is now based in San Diego, replacing the USS Ronald Reagan, now homeported in Japan. Around two-thirds of the sailors remained at their home base and took over as crew of the new ship, thereby saving the Navy an estimated $41 million in personnel transfer costs.