WHIDBEY ISLAND, Washington – The first wave of “Skinny” Dragons from Patrol Squadron (VP) 4 returned home Thursday, Sept. 1 from a demanding, yet highly successful trisite deployment.
For the first time since 1964, that return home was not made to Hawaii, but instead to Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island.
In the midst of deployment, the Skinny Dragons executed a permanent duty station change (PDSC) from Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to Whidbey Island, Wash., with many families moving in advance of the squadron’s return. Despite the challenges that come with executing a move, VP-4 personnel committed each day to ensuring that their last P-3C Orion deployment was a resounding success.
The VP-4 “P-3 Sundown” or “Aloha Deployment” as it became known, involved the Skinny Dragons operating out of 12 different countries in three vastly diverse areas of responsibility (AORs). In fact, on June 13 VP-4 launched six P-3C aircraft from five different detachment sites to six different missions within 24 hours.
According to Cmdr. Christopher Smith, VP-4’s commanding officer, the commitment from aircrew, maintenance and support personnel were astounding throughout the entire deployment.
“The Skinny Dragons are finishing a very successful deployment that saw us deployed to several locations around the world. This deployment was a significant milestone for our squadron as 2016 marks 50 years of flying the P-3C Orion for Patrol Squadron 4,” remarked Smith. “This summer was a great opportunity to honor the fine heritage of our squadron and the history of the mighty P-3C Orion.”
Those already in Whidbey Island eagerly await the arrival of the rest of their squadron who will trickle home in waves over the next two weeks.
Smith commented that it is certainly bittersweet to leave the island paradise of Oahu, but the Skinny Dragons are excited for the move to the Pacific Northwest and are enthusiastic to join Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 10. In addition, he added that the local community and sponsors from CPRW- 10 have been instrumental and the PDSC undoubtedly would not have been possible without their help.
“VP-4 is extremely excited to join the Whidbey Team and we have been welcomed with open arms at every step of our transition,” expressed Smith. “The local community, on and off base, has been aware of our arrival for over a year and has continuously worked to make our transition a seamless one. I am overwhelmed with the support we have been given and I am very grateful.”
The next step for VP-4 is a transition from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon. As the first of the three Hawaii-based Orion squadrons to transition, VP-4 is focused on a successful integration into CPRW-10 and continues their standard of excellence in maritime aviation throughout the transition.
The Skinny Dragons will begin the first portion of P-8A training in October with the “Pro’s Nest” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 30, the U.S. Navy’s Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS), who will provide a detachment of personnel to NAS Whidbey Island. After the New Year, VP-4 personnel will travel to the FRS in Jacksonville, Florida to complete the rest of their training.
Thankful for the support of CPRW-10 and the Whidbey Island community, VP-4 looks forward to bringing the Aloha spirit to the Pacific Northwest and their next chapter in maritime aviation.
By LTJG Matthew Johnston, VP-4 Public Affairs
Original article with images is located here: http://www.maritimepatrolassociation.org/documents/newsletter/2016/MPA_Newsletter_2016_4.pdf