Author Archives: John Larson

Patrol Squadron FOUR Change of Command 2016

Patrol Squadron FOUR Change of Command
LTJG Matthew Johnston
Public Affairs Officer, VP-4

160421-N-AL293-067 160421-N-AL293-086Commander Jonathan E. Spore was relieved by Commander Christopher E. Smith as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) on April 21, 2016. The ceremony was held in Hanger 426 on NAS Sigonella, Sicily.

Commander Spore reported to VP-4 in June 2014 as the Executive Officer and relieved Commander Eric M. Hanks as Commanding Officer in June 2015. A native of Chantilly, Virginia, he graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1997. His previous flying tours include assignments in VP-5 as a Junior Officer, VP-30, and a Department Head in VP-16. Commander Spore’s other assignments include a tour on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Flag Lieutenant for Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic, and most recently in the Pentagon, serving on both the Navy and the Joint Staff. Under his guidance, Patrol Squadron FOUR certainly lived up to their reputation as “Hawaii’s Best.” CDR Spore and the Skinny Dragons set the standard for maritime excellence, completing nine exercises and over 5,000 flight hours during his time as Commanding Officer. In March 2016, he led the way on VP-4’s last P-3C ‘Aloha Deployment’, and the Skinny Dragons are already achieving success executing their mission in the 4th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.

CDR Spore’s wife Jennifer and their three children, Mitchell, Landon, and Marion currently live in Hawaii. The family’s remaining time in Hawaii is short however, as Commander Spore has received orders to report to Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee. The Skinny Dragons bid a fond Aloha and say Mahalo to Commander Spore for his leadership and guidance.

“As a former Skinny Dragon Skipper, there was no way that I would miss this change of command,” stated Captain Steve Newlund, Commodore of Command Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO (CPRW2). “VP-4 is a premier outfit and has long been ‘Hawaii’s Best.’ Skipper Spore is an outstanding officer and has taken VP-4 to new heights.”

Commander Smith was raised in Brunswick, Maine and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering. He went on to earn his wings as a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) and after completing training at VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida, Commander Smith reported to the Golden Swordsmen of VP-47. Following his first tour at VP-47, Commander Smith went on to have successful tours at VP-30, the USS JOHN C. STENNIS, Navy Personnel Command, and another tour at VP-47 as a Department Head. As the next Skipper of VP-4, Commander Smith will have the opportunity to lead the Skinny Dragons through the transition to their next Fleet aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon.

CDR Smith and his wife Sarah now call Whidbey Island home with their four children Wyatt, Owen, Evan, and Elizabeth. Relieving Commander Smith as Executive Officer is Commander Bryan P. Hager. He is originally from Bangs, Texas and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Distribution. Commander Hager completed flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas and earned his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator in December 2001. His Fleet assignments include tours at VP-16 as a Junior Officer and Department Head, VP-30 as an instructor, a tour on the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHHOWER (CVN-69), and lastly a tour with Naval Operations (OPNAV) working to facilitate future transitions to the P-8A. His wife Kristen and their three sons, Kenan, Sladen , and Stetson currently reside in Anacortes, Washington.

VP-4 Departing Hawaii for the last time

Vp-4 departing on deploymentGreetings everyone,

I just got back from Hawaii this weekend.

I wanted to report to you that VP-4 has left Hawaii for their deployment. The first picture is the Skipper departing on Friday March 18th. They created a commemorative challenge coin for this significant event. This picture was taken from their Facebook.

The other picture is of the same plane the day before. It is the latest update P-3C. It is the AIP version. Also notice the nose art. It is a dragon’s claw opening up the aircraft.

I had a chance to talk to the XO and wanted to pass on some of what he said. The squadron will be flying out of multiple sites. They will be in Africa, Central America and Europe in one place and possible another sight off of the continent. This year marks the 50th anniversary that the P-3 has been in the squadron.

The P-8 is operating well, no major issues. When the squadron is finished with their deployment they will end up at NAS Whidbey Is. WA, where they will transition to the P-8A. That will begin on Halloween. I guess they will have to put on their dragon costumes. The only rate for the aircrew will be AW’s. The F/E’s, AT’s and in flight Ord will be gone. They will offer to transition to AW, go to the remaining P-3 squadrons, or stay in Hawaii doing other things.

It was good to get back to Oahu. I had to take a trip out to Barbers Pt and reminisce about the days when I was in VP-4. When all the Kaneohe have transitioned to the P-8, there will be no permanent squadrons based there. There will be dets to Hawaii for homeland security duties.

Take care

John Larson

VP-4 Veterans Assn PAO


Re-generated P-3C’s for Pakistan

Hi Everyone,

I thought you would like to see this. I got the first message at the beginning of the month. Picture was taken at Greenville, TX and I received the second email today. What a waste to re-generate a P-3C to have it destroyed.


1. Well it’s been a year. 160289 fully refurbished for structures and avionics systems FCF departure at 1651 hours. She looks good – except maybe that Pakistani flag on the tail…. I’ll send you all some interior pictures tomorrow of the new avionics/operator stations tomorrow. ( I never got to see any interior pics. )



2.KARACHI: Pakistan on Monday regained control of a naval base in the country’s biggest city, 17 hours after heavily armed Taliban gunmen attacked, destroying two US-made surveillance planes and killing 10 personnel. It was the worst assault on a military base since the army headquarters was besieged in October 2009, piling further embarrassment on the armed forces three weeks after Osama bin Laden was found living under their noses. Interior Minister Rehman Malik said four to six militants used ladders to climb into the naval air base in the teeming port city of Karachi under the cover of night late Sunday, triggering gunbattles and a series of explosions.


Officials said 11 Chinese and six American maintenance contractors were evacuated safely during the attack, but it took 17 hours before the navy confirmed that the attack on the PNS (Pakistan Naval Ship) Mehran was over. “We have cleared the base. The operation has been completed and the base is now under our control,” Commodore Irfan ul Haq told AFP. Malik said the “terrorists” sneaked into the base from three points adjacent to residential areas in the city of 16 million people, whose port is a vital hub for Nato supplies bound for Afghanistan. “It is not just an attack on a navy establishment, it is an attack on Pakistan,” Malik added, warning that those who sympathise with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda should instead “join hands with us to save our country”.



“There are believed to have been four to six terrorists. Four are confirmed dead. Two are suspected to have run away. We are still checking. Things will be clear by the evening,” he told reporters. One of the attackers is believed to have blown himself up and three dead bodies were found, the minister said. He said the group had used two ladders, under the cover of darkness, to climb over the wall into the base late Sunday. In a bizarre analogy, Malik compared the attackers to characters from a Star Wars film, dressed in Western clothes. “They were wearing black clothes like in Star Wars movies, (one) with (a) suicide vest. They had small beards and two of them were between 20-22 years old while the third who blew himself up was about 25.”


A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, who have stepped up attacks to avenge the May 2 death of bin Laden, said they had dispatched 15 to 20 suicide bombers equipped to fight for a week. “We had already warned after Osama’s martyrdom that we will carry out even bigger attacks,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location. Bin Laden was killed by US commandos in a garrison town north of Islamabad, in a raid that humiliated Pakistan’s security establishment. The militants’ attack deep inside Karachi underlined the military’s vulnerability. An AFP reporter heard blasts and intermittent barrages of gunfire on Monday, and helicopters flying overhead. Dozens of ambulances queued outside the base, which is about a few kilometres from Karachi’s international airport. Malik said 10 security personnel were killed, including one navy officer, three navy firemen, three navy commandos, a sailor and two paramilitary soldiers, and 15 others wounded.


“They have destroyed two P-3C Orion aircraft,” said Navy spokesman Commander Salman Ali. The attack was also likely to raise further concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, which reportedly number more than 100. The New York Times said that a mere 24 kilometres away from PNS Mehran, Pakistan was believed to keep a large depot for nuclear weapons that can be delivered from the air. Malik refused to acknowledge any security lapse, saying the “rapid”response had prevented bigger losses and adding that a security alert had been ordered across the country in large cities to guard against future attacks.

Soon after the operation was over in Karachi a bomb blast damaged a bridge on the main highway linking the capital Islamabad to the northwestern city of Peshawar, but caused no casualties, police officer Quresh Khan told AFP. In October 2009, Taliban militants besieged the army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi for two days, killing 22 people and raising serious questions over why it took the military so long to put down the assault. Karachi is Pakistan’s financial capital and the assault was the fourth on the navy in a month. Three bombings in late April killed nine people. Despite anger in Pakistan over bin Laden’s killing, US President Barack Obama told the BBC he was ready to order a similar mission if another high-value target was discovered in Pakistan, or anywhere else.





10 Pakistani troops killed in gun battle at naval base


Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) — At least 10 members of Pakistan’s military were killed in a gun battle with Taliban militants at a naval base in the coastal city of Karachi, authorities said Monday. The clashes raged for hours after attackers with guns and grenades stormed the compound Sunday night. By Monday afternoon, the base had “been cleared from the terrorists,” a Pakistani navy spokesman said. In addition to the 10 dead, at least 15 other Pakistani troops were wounded in the fighting, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said.


Investigators have found the bodies of three attackers and believe a fourth is buried in debris, he said. They suspect two militants escaped, he said, citing witness reports. The Pakistani Taliban said the attack at the Mehran naval air station was to avenge the killing of innocent civilians. The group’s spokesman, Ihsan Ullah, told CNN on Monday that Pakistani security forces are carrying out those killings on the instruction of the United States in the name of a “war on terror.” One of the attackers had detonated a suicide jacket, Malik said, and another one was found wearing an undetonated jacket. “We have daily 9/11 in this country. You see how we are suffering,” he said. “And therefore, this is my appeal to the international community … trust us, trust us, because this is a time we need you to support us morally.”


Authorities said militants wielding rocket launchers, automatic weapons and hand grenades attacked the base about 11 p.m. Sunday. They used ladders to scale a wall at the back of the base and jumped into the compound, Malik said. Two witnesses — Amjad Bashir and Talha Hashmi — reported at least 10 explosions in the subsequent hours. Each blast was typically followed by a sustained exchange of gunfire, Hashmi said. He said that several of the explosions — thought to be the result of two military aircraft and a fuel tank catching fire and releasing plumes of smoke — were particularly large. The attackers destroyed two P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft sold by the United States to Pakistan, Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said. Six American contractors at the base during the attack moved to safety and were not injured, he said.


The nation’s military personnel responded with what an Malik called a “major operation” at the base, which is about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Karachi’s main airport. According to the Pakistani navy’s website, the Mehran base “is efficiently supporting day and night operational activities of all (naval aviation) squadrons.” A host of courses are also offered on its grounds, from helicopter and air navigation instruction to sea survival. The Pakistani Taliban represents a confederation of Taliban groups in northwestern Pakistan, where they are based. The group, which is headquartered in Quetta, is separate from the Afghan Taliban, which has been focused on re-establishing the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan. Both groups swear allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar and have close ties to al Qaeda.


Karachi, which is considered the main commercial hub of Pakistan, has seen a drastic increase in political, ethnic and religious violence in recent months. Just over three weeks ago, three people were killed and at least 20 were injured when a hand grenade exploded at a gambling club in the southern Pakistani city. The grenade was tossed into the club by one of two unidentified people riding past the facility on a motorbike, according to Javed Baloch, a senior police official in Karachi. The Taliban said it was behind an April 28 roadside bombing on a main road through Karachi that left at least five dead and 10 injured. Two days earlier, three were killed and more than 30 wounded when remote-controlled bombs detonated near two buses carrying Pakistani navy officials.



The following pictures were taken from internet sources:



This picture shows four P-3C Orions on the tarmac at PNS Mehran. A little left from the center of the pic two T56 engines can be seen in the center of the fire. This is believed to be the left hand wing of a P-3C. Behind that aircraft is another P-3C. That one is dangerously close to the first aircraft which is on fire. Two more P-3C Orions are seen on the right. The front one of these might as well been damaged by the fire.




This picture shows the sad remains of two P-3C Orions. On the left the remains of the right hand T56 engines of an Orion are on the ground. In the center of the picture are another two T56 engines, while on the right side of the picture a left wing with two engines is still standing on the main landing gear.