Maritime helicopters are are designed to be operated from frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and similar size vessels. The development of better engines and modern weapons now allows even the modern, destroyer-based, multi-role helicopters to operate nearly autonomously in the anti-submarine warfare, anti-shipping, transport, search and rescue, and reconnaissance roles.
SH-60 / MH-60 Seahawk
The Seahawk is a twin-engine helicopter. It is used for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, drug interdiction, anti-ship warfare, cargo lift, and special operations. The Navy's SH-60B Seahawk is an airborne platform based aboard cruisers, destroyers, and frigates and deploys sonobouys (sonic detectors) and torpedoes in an anti-submarine role. They also extend the range of the ship's radar capabilities.
The Seahawk is able to deploy aboard any air-capable frigate, destroyer, cruiser, fast combat support ship, amphibious assault ship, or aircraft carrier, and can handle anti-submarine warfare (ASW), undersea warfare (USW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), naval special warfare (NSW) insertion, search and rescue (SAR), combat search and rescue (CSAR), vertical replenishment (VERTREP), and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).
The U.S. Navy uses the H-60 airframe under the model designations SH-60B, SH-60F, HH-60H, MH-60R, and MH-60S.
MH-53E Sea Dragon
The MH-53E Sea Dragon is used primarily for Airborne Mine Countermeasures (AMCM), with a secondary mission of shipboard delivery. Additional mission capabilities include air-to-air refueling, hover in-flight refueling, search and rescue, and external cargo transport operations, in both land and seaborne environments.
The MH-53E Sea Dragon fills the role of the U.S. Navy's airborne mine countermeasures missions, and performs heavy-lift duties for the Navy, operating from carriers and other warships. The MH-53E digital flight-control system includes features specifically designed to help tow minesweeping gear.
The MH-53E is rigged for towing its mine sweeping "sled" from high above the dangerous naval mines. The Sea Dragon is equipped with mine countermeasures systems, including twin machine guns. Its digital flight-control system includes features specifically designed to help towing mine sweeping gear.
A number of MH-53E helicopters have been exported to Japan for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF).