The unsung hero of the Navy’s chopper force

Laid down, 28 December 1967, at Pacific Coast Engineering Co., in Alameda, the heroically named Skilak (YFU-79), was just 125-feet long and could plod along at 9 knots. Armed with 3 M2 machine guns to ward off enemy sappers and sampans, she had a crew of a dozen commanded by an NCO. She was based on a commercial off-the-shelf design for logistics boats used on the Alaskan oil pipeline.

Her mission? As an Army Yard Freight Utility Craft, she was used to shuttle cargo and supplies around the RVN in the hard use of the US Army 329th Heavy Boat Co. “U-boat soldiers” for I Corps at Da Nang, which she dutifully pulled off until 1975 when she was evacuated to Guam after the fall of Saigon.

YFU-79 with a load of retrograde Army and Marine equipment at Tan My (just down river from Hue) late in 1969, I-CORPS Vietnam. YFU-79 would haul this type of cargo back to DaNang and usually pick up ammo to deliver back up north. Photo by Thomas Lanagan YFU-79 Via Navsource

YFU-79 with a load of retrograde Army and Marine equipment at Tan My (just down river from Hue) late in 1969, I-CORPS Vietnam. YFU-79 would haul this type of cargo back to DaNang and usually pick up ammo to deliver back up north. Photo by Thomas Lanagan YFU-79 Via Navsource

Well in 1986 the Navy picked her up after ten years of afloat storage in the island territory and, as IX-514, stripped her of her guns, updated her electronics and powerplant, installed a helicopter deck and lighting, had her bridge moved forward and then shipped her to Pensacola.

baylander

There she served as the Helicopter Landing Trainer (HLT) for over 20 years, getting underway for about 90 days per year to allow approaches, landings and take offs by Navy, Coast Guard and Marine chopper trainees on TH-57 Jet Rangers. And she was good at what she did, setting a record of 346 landings in a single day’s evolution– which isnt bad for a 125-foot long carrier!

On 25 Aug 2006 she completed her 100,000th consecutive accident-free landing.

060825-N-5328N-745 Pensacola Bay (Aug. 25, 2006) - A TH-57 training helicopter from Helicopter Training Squadron Eight at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field, makes a landing aboard the Navy Helicopter Landing Trainer (HLT) IX-514, marking the 100,000th consecutive accident-free landing on HLT IX-514. The helicopter, which is crewed by student pilot Navy Lt. j.g. David Dostal and instructor Navy Lt. Teresa Ferry. U.S. Navy photo by Gary Nichols (RELEASED)

060825-N-5328N-745 Pensacola Bay (Aug. 25, 2006) – A TH-57 training helicopter from Helicopter Training Squadron Eight at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field, makes a landing aboard the Navy Helicopter Landing Trainer (HLT) IX-514, marking the 100,000th consecutive accident-free landing on HLT IX-514. The helicopter, which is crewed by student pilot Navy Lt. j.g. David Dostal and instructor Navy Lt. Teresa Ferry. U.S. Navy photo by Gary Nichols (RELEASED)

Baylander (ex-IX-514, ex-YFU-79), veteran of 120,000+ landings, was brought to the Brooklyn Bridge Park Marina in 2014 where she now serves as a museum of sorts in addition to a more sedate role in shuttling NY Harbor School students to access their classes on Governor’s Island as part of the sailing school program.

Helicopter training ship, IX-514, now a sailing school in Brooklyn,

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as GUNS.com, Univesity of Guns, Outdoor Hub, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the US federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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