Recap of 2012 MPA symposium

By: John Lasron
Posted: 03 Apr 2012


Greetings everyone,

Here is the recap of this year’s MPA symposium. It was held from March 27th through March 30th at NAS Jacksonville, FL.

On the first day we had the members meeting. Since the MPA was formed last September, there are over 700 members. Active duty is 319 and retired is 323. There are 6 volunteer members on the board, all officers. They would like to get an enlisted person for the 7th member. They will be elections in the future for the board. There are National officers. The president is Commodore Wheeler, CPW 11 and the vice-president is Capt. Stevens, CO of VP-30. At the present time, all future symposiums will be held at NAS Jacksonville. There are 4 chapters, Wash D.C., Pax River, Whidbey Island, and Hawaii.

There are has been a Hall of Honor started at the ITC (Integrated Training Center). It is a new facility that was dedicated at the symposium. One wall has the Navy Medal of Honor awardees, and the wall across is dedicated to those who have been inducted into the Maritime Hall of Honor. I will mention this year’s inductees later on.

Some things the MPA wants to do in the future, is develop a MPA scholarship fund, and the growth of new chapters.

At the reception that night, we talked to a member of the reserve squadron. The squadron is back to the old days. They have their own aircraft again. With the active squadrons getting P-8’s and in transition, the reserves will have to pick up the slack. Individuals will mobilize for 4 months and this will last a few years.

On day two was the roll out of the P-8 and its delivery to VP-30. I was chatting with the Canadian Commodore before the ceremony. They have a little over half of their aircraft updated. They are getting new wings, tall, aft bulkhead and repairs around tank 5. They are getting a new avionics package. They say it is as good as the U.S. AIP planes.

There were British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and Japanese in Jacksonville during the week as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the P-3.

At the rollout ceremony, the dignitaries were, Under Secretary of the Navy, Honorable Robert Work, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mark Ferguson, Commander Naval Air Force, Vice Admiral Allen Myers, Commander Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, RADM Hewitt, Mayor Alvin Brown, and Mr. Dennis Muilenburg, President and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space and Security.

After the rollout, the ITC building had a ribbon cutting ceremony. There are now 4 full motion cockpit simulators with room for 10. There is room for 9 weapons trainers, with the 5 tactical crewmember positions. Each station is interchangeable. They are “on the rail”. With the Tacco in the middle, the Nav is to the left and then the SS3. To the right of the Tacco would be the acoustic sensor operators. Again they could be in any seat. None of the equipment was turned on, so we could not see any displays. The Commodore said that the current generation doesn’t like the rail system, while the old guys prefer that. The classrooms will have an instructor and stations were the students study. They have two large screens on top of each other. They are the same as in the airplane. The students will learn at their own pace. If most are having trouble then the instructor will go back to instructing. The P-3 training was 70% flying and 30% simulators. The P-8 will be 70% simulators and 30% flying.

Here is some info on the crews. There will be 3 pilots (if over 6 hrs. of flying). The tacco and nav. There will be 4 AW’s. One will be loading the sonobuoys. If there won’t be any ASW, then there would 1 acoustic operator and 2 SS-3’s. So there is a total of 9 crewmembers. There will be a plane captain assigned to the plane. He won’t fly with the crew, unless they are going on a det and then would accompany the crew. There are 21 seat positions on the aircraft.

We then took a tour of the aircraft. I took a lot of pictures inside. I started at the front and worked backwards. The cockpit has a heads-up display. All the info you need is right in front of your eyes for flying. The plane can hold about 65 K of fuel. There is a refueling capability. But that won’t be used until about 2015. The limiting factor is oil in the engine and possible crew time. There is an airline galley where they can cook their meals. No more cruise boxes and hopefully box lunches. Next comes the head, I didn’t look inside, but assume it is a standard airline bathroom. Then next to head, are the 2 crew rest seats. They fully recline. Father back was the crew stations with seats next to them. There were not many avionics bays, no main load center and very few circuit breakers. Then there were the sono racks. They have a total capacity of 121 buoys. There are 3 circular buoy containers, each one holds 10. There were 3 individual launchers, and you don’t have to depressurize. They can monitor 64 buoys. The AIP planes can monitor 32 buoys. The bomb bay is behind the wing. They will carry the MK 54 Torpedo and the Harpoons. In the back of the plane is a storage area, for the lobsters, Coors beer, the furniture, and motorcycles. GEE DUNK!!

The Tacco who was on board was at Pax River and has been on the plane 3 years. She said that top screen you could have radar and IRDS, split screen. On the bottom CRT you could have the grams.

Then in the afternoon we received our briefing. Commodore Wheeler started off the briefs. Also in attendance were Commodores from Whidbey Is and Kaneohe. We also had CTF 72, CTF 57 and CTE 67 there to brief us.

Last year during the briefing, they would not show the Maverick firing on a Libyan small craft. We got to see it this year. The Maritime Patrol and Recon forces is 18 squadrons, 6169 sailors= 1186 Officers and 4983 Enlisted. There are 127 aircraft and 65 mission capable aircraft. VPU-1 and VQ-2 are going away this year. So they will be incorporated into the other squadrons. Info from Whidbey Is, VP-1 now is deployed in El Salvador and Misawa. There are 4 P-3 squadrons there. VQ-1 will have 12 crews and 600 sailors after the consolidation. Hawaii has 4 squadrons. Jacksonville has 7 P-3 squadrons. VP-16 will be the first to transition to the P-8 when they come back from deployment. First P-8 deployment will be Dec 2013. One squadron will transition every 6 months. All the Jax squadrons will get the plane first then probably Whidbey Is and then Hawaii. There will be 12 crews and 6 planes in each squadron.

They then talked about the different threats. Iranian subs don’t go far from home. They are kind of novice at it. The Iranian P-3’s are still flying out of Bandar Abbas. The PRC (Peoples Republic of China) are now going East of Guam. Their ops are getting more complex. The PRC claims a lot of the South China Sea and that has the countries around it concerned. So we have had a crew go into Cambodia, search and rescue exercise with Vietnam. We are also going back into Cubi Pt. That drew a big cheer from the attendees.

Deployment sights for Jax are to El Salvador and Misawa. The squadron out of Misawa helped out after the earthquake with mapping the debris field last year. We have not had deployments to Misawa for 4 years. Whidbey Is goes to Kadena, Bahrain and Qatar. Kaneohe is going to Sicily and Djibouti. VQ is in Crete, Curacao and Qatar. We left Diego Garcia in 2006

With the tension with Iran and their treats of shutting down the Straits of Hormuz, the aircraft carriers want 4 armed P-3 in the area to verify the threats. The UAV’s (BAMS) have been flying now for 3 years. There are 5 of them and 1 is forward deployed. They can do 24 hr. missions. The carriers also want BAMS coverage on the Straits of Hormuz.

Then that night we had the Heritage Dinner. There were 3 new inductees into the Hall of Honor. Commander Scott Carpenter. He flew P-2V’s in VP-6. He was the 4 into space and the second to orbit the Earth. Also inducted were Captain Isbell and RADM Wolkensdorfer. The Admiral’s wife was there to accept the honor. P-3 crews with the highest proficiency in ASW would be awarded the Isbell trophy.

VADM Harris was the guest speaker. He is the Assistant to the Chairman of JCS. He has a P-3 background (VP-44, VP-4, and VP-46).

We had in attendance the original acceptance crew for the first P-3A. They flew the plane from Burbank, CA to NAS Jacksonville in 1962. Everyone received a coin commemorating the 50th anniversary of the P-3.

Those are the highlights of this year’s MPA symposium. You can look at the pictures I took at

I hope to put my video on the internet. It was taken during the rollout ceremony.

I hope you enjoyed this briefing and getting to see the inside of the new P-8.

John Larson

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