Naval Helicopter ‘Patch Signing’ Tradition Signifies Commitment, Partnership
Hundreds of employees work on Lockheed Martin’s naval helicopters, inside and outside the hangar where the MH-60R aircraft are outfitted with their advanced mission suites. Once the aircraft are declared mission-ready, the crew members attend a patch-signing ceremony and share their stories about how they have used the aircraft both in humanitarian and wartime situations. Since 2008, more than 200 patch-signing events have taken place, and they are embraced as a symbol of commitment and partnership with the U.S. Navy.
During the patch-signing ceremony, each crew member signs his or her name on an oversized patch depicting the squadron’s crest and nickname. Currently, there are 17 patches adorning the hangar, signed by 10 West Coast squadrons, six East Coast squadrons, and one Australian squadron. Both Commodores of the East and West Coast squadrons have also signed patches that now hang in the hangar.
“The patch-signing tradition represents an incredible opportunity to connect our employees to the important missions that the U.S. Navy’s brave aircrews accomplish in anti-surface and anti-submarine operations, as well as disaster relief and humanitarian aid. The 17 patches we have on display are evidence of our robust history in delivering the most advanced naval helicopter capabilities to the U.S. Navy and navies around the world.”
The patch-signing tradition dates back to 2008, when the first aircraft was deployed with Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM)-71 aboard the USS Stennis aircraft carrier. That aircraft is now part of HSM-41, which is the training squadron based in San Diego, California.
While at Lockheed Martin’s facility in Owego, the aircrew has the opportunity to tour the facility, labs and hangar to understand the departments and processes involved in building the MH-60R, including new developments. They also offer valuable feedback that can influence the next generation of naval helicopter capabilities.