Category Archives: Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Group

Posts about Patrol and Reconnaissance Group and other VP related information

Truculent Turtle

Great story.

Hard to believe that they could squeeze 55 hours out of the beast.!?!

This is a rather long and interesting story about a Navy P-2 that flew non-stop from Perth Australia to Columbus, Ohio in 1946.

More than 11,000 miles with more than 55 hours in the air…

The oxidized Lockheed ‘ Truculent Turtle ‘ had been squatting next to a Navy Air Station’s main gate, completely exposed to the elements and getting ragged around the edges. Finally recognizing the Turtle’s singular historic value to aviation, it was moved to Pensacola to receive a badly required and pristine restoration. It is now – gleamingly hanging – from the National Naval Aviation Museum’s ceiling where it earned its distinction.

Taxiing tests demonstrated that its Lockheed P2V-1’s landing gear might fold while bearing the Turtle’s extreme weight before carrying it airborne. And during taxi turns its landing gear struts could fail carrying such a load. For that reason, the Turtle was only partially filled with fuel before it was positioned at the head of Australia’s Pearce Aerodrome runway 27 at 7 A.M. on September 29th, 1946.

Lined up for take-off, all fueling was completed by 4:00 p.m. At the same time JATO packs were carefully attached to its fuselage for the jet-assistance required to shove the Truculent Turtle fast enough to take-off before going off the end of the runway

The Turtle would attempt its take-off with CDR Thomas D. Davies, as pilot in command, in the left seat and CDR Eugene P. (Gene) Rankin, the copilot, in the right seat.

In CDR Rankin’s own words:

“Late afternoon on the 29th, the weather in southwestern Australia was beautiful. And at 1800, the two 2,300 hp Wright R-3350 engines were warming up.

We were about to takeoff from 6,000 feet of runway with a gross weight of 85,561 pounds [the standard P2V was gross weight limited at 65,000 pounds.]

Sitting in the copilot’s seat, I remember thinking about my wife, Virginia, and my three daughters and asking myself, ‘ What am I doing here in this situation? ‘I took a deep breath and wished for the best.

At 6:11 p.m., CDR Tom Davies stood hard on the brakes as both throttles were pushed forward to max power. At the far end of the mile-long runway, he could make out the throng of news reporters and photographers.

Scattered across the air base were hundreds of picnickers who came to witness the spectacle of a JATO takeoff. They all stood up when they heard the sound of the engines being advanced to full military power. Davies and Rankin scanned the engine instruments. Normal. Davies raised his feet from the brakes.

On this day, September 29, 1946, the reciprocating engine Turtle was a veritable winged gas tank. . THIRTEEN TONS BEYOND the two-engine Lockheed’s Max Gross Weight Limitations.

The Truculent Turtle rumbled and bounced on tires that had been over-inflated to handle the heavy load. Slowly it began to pick up speed. As each 1,000-foot sign went by, Rankin called out the speed and compared it to predicted figures on a clipboard in his lap.

With the second 1,000-foot sign astern, the Turtle was committed.

Davies could no longer stop on the remaining runway. It was now. . fly or burn.

[Secretly . . . some of the excited end of runway watchers may have wanted to see the airplane crash and burn.]

When the quivering airspeed needle touched 87 knots, Davies punched a button wired to his yoke, and the four JATO bottles fired from attachment points on the aft fuselage.

The crew’s ears filled with JATO bottles’ ROAR. . bodies FEELING the JATO’s thrust. For a critical twelve seconds, the JATO provided the thrust of a third engine.

At about 4,500 feet down the runway, 115 knots was reached on the airspeed indicator, and Davies pulled the nose wheel off. There were some long seconds while the main landing gear continued to rumble over the last of the runway. Then the rumbling stopped as the main landing gear staggered off the runway and the full load of the aircraft shifted to the wings.

As soon as they were certain that they were airborne, but still only an estimated five feet above the ground, Davies called ‘gear up.’ Rankin moved the wheel-shaped actuator on the pedestal between the pilots to the up position, and the wheels came up. Davies likely tapped the brakes to stop the wheels from spinning, and the wheel-well doors closed just as the JATO bottles burned out. Behind the pilots in the aft fuselage, CDR Walt Reid kept his hand on the dump valve that could quickly lighten their load in an emergency.

Roy Tabeling, at the radio position, kept all his switches off for now to prevent the slightest spark.

The Turtle had an estimated 20 feet of altitude and 130 knots of airspeed when the JATO bottles burned out. The JATO bottles were not just to give the Turtle additional speed on take-off, but were intended to improve the rate of climb immediately after lift-off. The Turtle barely cleared the trees a quarter of a mile from the end of the runway.

The field elevation of Pearce Aerodrome was about 500 feet, and the terrain to the west sloped gradually down to the Indian Ocean about six miles from the field. So, even without climbing, the Turtle was able to gain height above the trees in the critical minutes after take-off.

Fortunately, the emergency procedures for a failed engine had been well thought out, but were never needed. At their take-off weight, they estimated that they would be able to climb at a maximum of 400 feet per minute. If an engine failed and they put maximum power on the remaining engine, they estimated that they would be forced to descend at 200 feet per minute.

Their planning indicated that if they could achieve 1,000 feet before an engine failure they would have about four minutes in which to dump fuel to lighten the load and still be 200 feet in the air to attempt a landing. With their built-in fuel dump system, they were confident that they were in good shape at any altitude above 1,000 feet because they could dump fuel fast enough to get down to a comfortable single-engine operating weight before losing too much altitude.

Departing the Aerodrome boundary, the Turtle was over the waters of the Indian Ocean.

With agonizing slowness, the altimeter and airspeed readings crept upward. Walt Reid jettisoned the empty JATO bottles. The Turtle was thought to have a 125 KT stall speed with the flaps up at that weight. When they established a sluggish climb rate, Gene Rankin started bringing the flaps up in careful small increments. At 165 KT, with the flaps fully retracted, Tom Davies made his first power reduction to the maximum continuous setting.

The sun was setting and the lights of the city were blinking on as the Turtle circled back over Perth at 3,500 feet and headed out across the 1,800 miles of the central desert of Australia. On this record-breaking night, one record had already been broken. Never before had two engines carried so much weight into the air. . after the JATOS quit.

Their plan was to keep a fairly low 3,500 feet for the first few hundred miles, burning off some fuel, giving them a faster climb to cruise altitude. . and [hopefully] costing them less fuel for the total trip.

But the southwest wind, burbling and eddying across the hills northeast of Perth, brought turbulence that shook and rattled the overloaded Turtle, threatening the integrity of the wings themselves.

Tom Davies applied full power and took her up to 6,500 feet where the air was smoother, reluctantly accepting the sacrifice of enough fuel to fly an extra couple of hundred miles if lost, bad WX or other unexpected problems at flight’s end.

Alice Springs at Australia’s center, slid under the Turtle’s long wings at midnight. And Cooktown on the northeast coast at dawn. Then it was out over the Coral Sea where, only a few years before, the LEXINGTON and YORKTOWN had sunk the Japanese ship SHOHO to win the first carrier battle in history, and prevented Australia and New Zealand from being cutoff and then isolated.

At noon on the second day, the Turtle skirted the 10,000 foot peaks of southern New Guinea, and in mid-afternoon detoured around a mass of boiling thunderheads over Bougainville in the Solomons.

As the sun set for the second time since takeoff, the Turtle’s crew headed out across the vast and empty Pacific Ocean and began to establish a flight routine.

They stood two-man four-hour watches, washing, shaving, and changing to clean clothes each morning. And eating regular meals cooked on a hot plate. Every two hours, a fresh pilot would enter the cockpit to relieve whoever had been sitting watch the longest.

The two Wright 3350 engines ran smoothly; all the gauges and needles showed normal. And every hour another 200 or so miles of the Pacific passed astern. The crew’s only worry was Joey the kangaroo, who hunched unhappily in her crate, refusing to eat or drink.

Dawn of the second morning found the Turtle over Maro Reef, halfway between Midway Island and Oahu in the long chain of Hawaiian Islands. The Turtle only had one low-frequency radio, because most of the modern radio equipment had been removed to reduce weight. Radio calls to Midway and Hawaii for weather updates were unsuccessful due to the long distance.

Celestial navigation was showing that the Turtle was drifting southward from their intended great circle route due to increased northerly winds that were adding a headwind factor to their track. Instead of correcting their course by turning more northward, thereby increasing the aircraft’s relative wind, CDR Davies stayed on their current heading accepting the fact that they would reach the west coast of the U.S. [somewhere] in northern California rather than near Seattle as they had originally planned.

When Turtle’s wing tip gas tanks empty, they were jettisoned over the ocean. Then the Turtle eased up to 10,000 feet; later to 12,000 feet.

At noon, CDR Reid came up to the cockpit smiling. “Well,” he reported, “the damned kangaroo has started to eat and drink again. I guess she thinks we’re going to make it.”

The purpose of our mission [except in Joey’s brain] was not some foolish stunt, despite her unusual presence aboard.

In the fall of 1946, the increasingly hostile Soviet Union was pushing construction of a submarine force nearly ten times larger than Hitler’s. Antialternative-submarine warfare was the Navy’s responsibility, regardless of the U.S. Army Air Force’s alternative views.

The Turtle was among the first of the P2V Neptune patrol planes designed to counter the sub threat. Tom Davies’ orders derived straight from the offices of Secretary of the Navy, James V. Forrestal, and the Chief of Naval Operations, Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

A dramatic demonstration was needed to prove beyond question that the new P2V patrol plane, its production at Lockheed representing a sizeable chunk of the Navy’s skimpy peacetime budget, could do the job. With its efficient design that gave it 4-engine capability on just two engines, the mission would show the Neptune’s ability to cover the transoceanic distances necessary to perform its ASW mission and sea-surveillance functions.

At a time when new roles and missions were being developed to deliver nuclear weapons, it would not hurt a bit to show that the Navy, too, had those significant capabilities.

So far, the flight had gone pretty much according to plan. But now as the second full day in the air began to darken, the Pacific sky, gently clear and blue for so long, turned rough and hostile.

An hour before landfall, great rolling knuckles of cloud punched out from the coastal mountains. The Turtle bounced and vibrated. Ice crusted on the wings. Static blanked out its radio transmissions and radio reception.

The crew strapped down hard, turned up the red instrument lights and took turns trying to tune the radio direction finder to a recognizable station.

It was midnight before Roy Tabeling succeeded in making contact with the ground and requested an instrument clearance eastward from California.

They were 150 miles off the coast when a delightful female voice reached up through the murk from Williams Radio, 70 miles south of Red Bluff, California.

“I’m sorry” the voice said. “I don’t seem to have a flight plan on you. What was your departure point?”

“Perth, Western Australia.” “No . . . I mean where did you take-off from?”

“Perth, Western Australia.”

“Navy Zero Eight Two, you do not understand me. I mean what was your departure airport for this leg of the flight?”

“Perth, Western Australia. BUT. . That’s halfway around the world! ”

“No . . . Only about a third. May we have that clearance, please? ”

The Turtle had departed Perth some thirty-nine hours earlier and had been out of radio contact with anyone for the past twenty hours. That contact with Williams Radio called off a world-wide alert for ships and stations between Mid-way and the west coast to attempt contact with the Turtle on all frequencies. With some difficulty due to reception, the Turtle received an instrument clearance to proceed on airways from Oakland to Sacramento and on to Salt Lake City at 13,000 feet.

The weather report was discouraging. It indicated heavy turbulence, thunderstorms, rain and icing conditions.

As Gene Rankin wrote in a magazine article after the flight: “Had the Turtle been on the ground at an airport at that threatening point, the question might have arisen: ‘ is this trip important enough to continue right through this ‘ stuff ‘?

The Turtle reached the west coast at 9:16 p.m. about thirty miles north of San Francisco. Their estimated time of arrival, further north up the coast, had been 9:00 p.m. They had taken off about forty hours earlier and had covered 9,000 statute miles thus far.

They had broken the distance record by more than a thousand miles, and all of their remaining fuel was in their wing tanks which showed about eight-tenths full. Speculation among the pilots began as to how much further the Turtle could fly before fuel exhaustion.

The static and atmospherics began demonstrating the weird and wonderful phenomenon of St. Elmo’s fire, adding more distractions to the crew’s problems. The two propellers whirled in rings of blue-white light. And violet tongues licked up between the windshields’ laminations. While eerie purple spokes protruded from the Neptune’s nose cone.

All those distracting effects now increased in brilliance with an accompanying rise in static on all radio frequencies before suddenly discharging with a blinding flash and audible thump. Then once again. . Slowly re-create itself.

The Turtle’s oxygen system had been removed for the flight, so the pilots were using portable walk-around oxygen bottles to avoid hypoxia at higher altitudes.

The St. Elmo’s fire had been annoying but not dangerous. But it can be a heart-thumping experience for those witnessing it for the first time. The tachometer for the starboard engine had been acting up, but there were no other engine problems. The pilots kept the fuel cross-feed levers, which connected both main tanks to both engines, in the ‘off’ position so each was feeding from the tank in its own wing.

Somewhere over Nevada, the starboard engine began running rough and losing power.

After scanning the gauges, the pilots surmised that the carburetor intake was icing up and choking itself. To correct that, the carburetor air preheating systems on both engines were increased to full heat to clear out any carburetor ice. Very quickly, the warm air solved the problem and the starboard engine ran smoothly again.

With an engine running rough, CDR Davies had to be thinking about their mission. The Turtle had broken the existing record, but was that good enough? It was just a matter of time before the AAF would launch another B-29 to take the record up another notch. The Neptune was now light enough for single engine flight, but how much farther could it go on one engine? And was it worth risking this expensive aircraft for the sake of improving a long-distance record?

Over Nevada and Utah, the weather was a serious factor. Freezing rain, snow and ice froze on the wings and fuselage, forcing the crew to increase power to stay airborne. The aircraft picked up a headwind and an estimated 1,000 pounds of ice. It was problematic because the plane’s deicing and anti-icing equipment had been removed as a weight-saving measure.

The next three [3] hours of high power settings and increased fuel usage at a lower altitude of 13,000 feet. And it probably slashed 500 miles from our flight’s record-breaking distance.

After passing Salt Lake City, the weather finally broke with the dawn of the Turtle’s third day in the air. The Turtle was cleared to descend to 9,000 feet. All morning, CDR Davies tracked their progress eastward over Nebraska, Iowa, and the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. To the north, Chicago’s haze was in sight.

But not surprisingly, our remaining fuel levels were gaining more attention from each and every member of the crew.

The wingtip tanks had long ago been emptied and jettisoned over the Pacific. The bomb bay tank, the nose tank and the huge aft-fuselage tank were empty. Entirely empty. The fuel gauges for both wing tanks were moving inexorably toward zero.

CDR Davies and his crew consulted, tapped each fuel gauges, calculated and recalculated their remaining fuel, and cursed the gauges on which one-eighth of an inch represented 200 gallons.

At noon, they concluded they could not safely stretch the flight all the way to Washington, D.C., and certainly not to the island of Bermuda. CDR Davies chose the Naval Air Station at Columbus, Ohio to be their final destination.

At quarter past one that afternoon the runways and hangars of the Columbus airport were in sight. The Turtle’s crew were cleaned-up and shaven and in uniform. And the fuel gauges all read empty. With the landing checklist completed and wheels and flaps down, CDR Davies cranked the Turtle around in a 45 degree left turn towards final. As the airplane leveled out of its final turn, the starboard engine popped, sputtered and quit. .

The port engine continued smoothly.

Down to 400 feet, as they completed their final turn, both pilots simultaneously recognized the problem. Their hands collided, as both reached for the fuel cross feed fuel lever between their seats.

During the landing pattern’s descending final turn in the landing pattern, the near-empty starboard tank quit feeding fuel into the starboard engine.

Within seconds, the starboard engine began running smoothly again from fuel rushing in from the open cross feed. The Turtle had been in no danger, since they were light enough to operate on one engine. On the other hand, it would have been embarrassing to have an engine quit, in view of the growing crowd watching below.

At 1:28 p.m. on October 1st, the Neptune’s wheels once more touched the earth [HARD] with tires intentionally

Over-inflated for our take-off at Perth. . 11,236 miles and 55 hours and 17 minutes. . after take-off.

After a hastily called press conference in Columbus, the crew was flown to NAS air station in Washington, D.C. by a Marine Corps Reserve aircraft, where they were met by their wives and the Secretary of the Navy. The crew was grounded by a flight surgeon upon landing in Columbus…

But before the day was over, the Turtle’s crew had been awarded Distinguished Flying Crosses by Navy Secretary Forrestal. Next day, they were scheduled to meet with an exuberant President Harry S. Truman.

And Joey was observably relieved to be back on solid earth. And she was installed in luxurious quarters at the zoo.

The record established by CDR Tom Davies and the crew of the Truculent Turtle’s crew did not stand for a fluke year or two. But for decades. The long-distance record for all aircraft was only broken by a jet-powered B-52 in 1962.

The Truculent Turtle’s record for piston/propeller driven aircraft was broken by Burt Rutan’s Voyager, a carbon-fiber aircraft, which made its historic around the world non-stop flight in 1986… more than four decades after the Turtle landed in Ohio.

After a well-earned publicity tour, the Truculent Turtle was used by the Naval Air Test Center, at Patuxent River, as a flying test bed for advanced avionics systems. The Truculent Turtle was retired with honors in 1953 and put on display in Norfolk, Virginia, and later repositioned at the main gate of Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia, in 1968.

In 1977, the Truculent Turtle was transported to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida where it now holds forth in a place of honor in Hangar Bay One.

Many thanks to the Naval Institute Proceedings magazine, Naval Aviation News magazine, the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation magazine, CDR Eugene P. Rankin, CDR Walter S. Reid and CDR Edward P. Stafford, whose articles about the “Truculent Turtle ” were the basis for this article. [abridged]


‘War Eagle’ Aircrew Participate in Balikatan 2012

‘War Eagle’ Aircrew Participate in Balikatan 2012.

‘War Eagle’ Aircrew Participate in Balikatan 2012

By Lt. j.g. Michael Glynn, VP-16 Public Affairs
Posted: April 30, 2012

MANILA, Philippines –Aircrew and maintainers from the ‘War Eagles’ of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 paid a visit to the Republic of the Philippines to participate in exercise Balikatan 2012.

MISAWA, Japan (April 21, 2012) – Aviation Ordnancemen attached to Patrol Squadron (VP) 1, download the SLAM-ER (Captive Air Training Missile) from a P-3 aircraft. VP-1 is currently on deployment to northern Japan in support of 7th Fleet operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Darrius Wharton)

The exercise, which focused on improving interoperability and response to disaster relief, ran from April 16 to April 27 and included American and Filipino personnel.


‘War Eagle’ aircrew and officers from the Philippine Navy held a series of joint briefings to discuss maritime security and capabilities during combined operations. The meetings provided a forum to discuss safety, teamwork, and effective crew resource management.


“The joint briefings were the most interesting part of the whole exercise,” said VP-16 pilot, Lt. Adam Boland. “The briefings were very informative, giving us all insight into how the Philippine Navy incorporates maritime patrol assets.”


VP-16 aircrew flew several flights focused on building maritime domain awareness (MDA). The Philippines is an archipelago nation of over 7,000 islands, making maritime security a prime concern.


The ‘War Eagle’ aircrew hosted personnel from the Philippine Navy onboard one of their flights to observe patrol operations and exchange perspective.


“I really enjoyed allowing our hosts to come fly with us,” said ‘War Eagle’ plane commander Chief Warrant Officer Steev Ditamore. “It really gave us the opportunity to showcase the aircraft.”


The ‘War Eagles’ operate the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. With a robust sensor suite, high speeds, and long endurance, the P-3C is an ideal platform to conduct surveillance patrols.


The squadron is based ashore Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. and flies routine security, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. VP-16 is currently forward-deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa and flies in support of Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.



VPU-1 ‘Old Buzzards’ to disestablish

VPU-1 ‘Old Buzzards’ to disestablish |

VPU-1 ‘Old Buzzards’ to disestablish

Posted: April 25, 2012 – 1:07pm | Updated: April 25, 2012 – 1:11pm

Photo courtesy of VPU-1 A specially equipped P-3 Orion assigned to the "Old Buzzards" of VPU-1 is ready to start its turboprop engines on the Hangar 511 flight line at NAS Jacksonville. The squadron will be disestablished on Friday.

From VPU-1 Public Affairs

Special Projects Patrol Squadron (VPU) 1 will hold its disestablishment ceremony April 27 at 10 a.m. at NAS Jacksonville Hangar 117.
The “Old Buzzards” trace their lineage back 40 years when the Chief of Naval Operations requested the creation of a specially trained maritime patrol unit possessing the necessary expertise, flexibility and quick reaction capability to respond to immediate tasking from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.As a result, a unique “special projects” detachment of P-3s was formed from operationally proven aircrew and maintenance professionals.

As the demand for P-3 Special Projects assets increased, the detachment became an independent unit under the command of its first officer-in-charge. During this period, the Sailors of VPU-1 continued their proud tradition of operational maritime patrol expertise, rapid response and professionalism.
The Old Buzzards served during the Cold War, in Operation Desert Shield/Storm, as well as numerous other military operations and crises.
In March 1996, the unit was formally established as a patrol squadron under the command of Cmdr. Walter Kreitler. For more than 16 years the “Old Buzzards” upheld the highest standards of the U.S. Navy and the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force.

The squadron, flying at least two specially equipped Orions, has operated from NAS Jax since July 2009 when they relocated from NAS Brunswick, Maine.
Squadron personnel have earned seven Joint Meritorious Unit awards, six Navy Unit Commendations, seven Meritorious Unit Commendations, seven Navy Battle “E” awards and various other unit, service and campaign awards.

Several “Old Buzzards” alumni are in town for the disestablishment events that include the Buzzard Ball, a golf tournament and Buzzard Night at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville to see the Suns play.
As part of the Friday ceremony, Cmdr. Lee Boyer, the last “Old Buzzards” commanding officer, will lower the command pennant and dismiss the squadron for the final time.
“It’s definitely going to be a bittersweet ceremony. On one hand, it is sad to see such a great squadron being retired – but on the other hand, disestablishment has renewed the bond between every generation of Old Buzzards. I have truly been humbled by the support and the obvious attachment that former and retired ‘Old Buzzards’ have for this squadron,” Boyer stated.
Cmdr. Chris McDowell, the former VPU-1 executive officer and now commanding officer of VPU-2 at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii had these thoughts on the events.

“The ‘Old Buzzards’ of VPU-1, and the dedicated professionals, families and friends who support us, repeatedly accomplished some amazing things over the past 40 years. With several current ‘Old Buzzards’ destined to continue our fine tradition of mission accomplishment as members of our sister squadron, VPU-2, I look forward to carrying our unrivaled capabilities forward.”


DVIDS – News – VP-1 assists in Taiwanese Fishing Vessel rescue

via DVIDS – News – VP-1 assists in Taiwanese Fishing Vessel rescue.

USS BLUE RIDGE, At Sea – A P-3 Orion from Patrol Squadron 1, in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard’s district 14, assisted in the rescue of 10 Taiwanese fishermen April 21, 700 miles off the west coast of Guam.

At approximately 4:30 p.m., local time, Coast Guard Sector Guam received an initial alert from an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon from the Hsin Man Chun, the 70-foot Taiwanese fishing vessel. After a request for assistance from the Coast Guard, VP-1’s P-3 located 10 crew members from the fishing vessel that was reported to be on fire.

VP-1 spotted eight crew members in a life raft with two crew members still on the burning vessel’s bridge. The P-3 deployed two life rafts to assist crew members in distress.

At the time of the request for assistance, the Semirio was only 40 miles away from the distressed vessel. Once on scene, the 980-foot bulk carrier launched a small boat and successfully rescued all 10 crew members.

The Semirio is one of many foreign flagged vessels operating in the Pacific that voluntarily participate in the Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescue System.

AMVER, sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard, is a unique, computer-based, and voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea. With AMVER, rescue coordinators can identify participating ships in the area of distress and divert the best-suited ship or ships to respond.

Read more:

A too close encounter

(From: Andoyposten)

Norwegian P-3 Orion in shock wave over Barentsz Sea
Close encounter with Russian fighter aircraft

Tuesday 10 April 2012 a Russian fighter passed a RNoAF P-3 Orion, flying over the Barentsz Sea, at un “uncomfortable distance”. Norwegian fighters often intercept Russian aircraft approaching Norwegian air space in that same area, usually without much drama. But last Tuesday’s event was a different story.

During a routine mission the Norwegian P-3 crew had spotted the Russian aircraft, a MiG31 Foxhound, twice at a visual safe distance. The third time however the MiG31 cme in from behind and passed the Orion very close to the Orion, said LtCol John Espen Lien, the communications director at the RnOAF HQ.

Lien said that the incident will be discussed with the Russian Armed Forces

25 years ago, on 13 September 1987, a RNoAF P-3B had a mid air collision with a Soviet Su27 Flanker in a quite similar event. The P-3B was damaged but landed safely.

Marco P.J. Borst
P-3 Orion Research Group – The Netherlands

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MPA Dinner Spotlight on Hall of Honor Inductees



(Photos available by request) [I will be requesting photos and posting soon. Chad]


Maritime Patrol Association Heritage Dinner Puts the Spotlight on the P-3, Hall of Honor Inductees

JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Maritime Patrol Association (MPA) celebrated 50 years of the P-3 Orion at the annual Heritage Dinner on March 28, 2012 onboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville by honoring the strength and commitment of the many members, past and present, who have helped shape the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community.

“Last year we celebrated the Centennial of Naval Aviation in which we noted that maritime patrol has played a key role in the U.S. military aviation operations since the very beginning,” said Rear Admiral Michael W. Hewitt, Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group. “And tonight, we are here to toast a major accomplishment within our own community; the service of the P-3 Orion for the last 50 years.”

The milestone anniversary of the celebrated aircraft attracted a crowd of nearly 450 guests in historic Hangar 117. One of the many distinguished attendees, guest speaker Vice Admiral Harry B. Harris, Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) member, spoke about the leaders who had helped mold the aviation community. He singled out dozens of active duty and retired members of the MPRF, many of them seated in the audience, who had played key roles in leadership and antisubmarine warfare (ASW), the critical mission of maritime patrol. It was clear that these people created the foundation upon which the community is currently run.

Included in that group of stand-outs were the three individuals inducted into the MPRF Hall of Honor during the dinner.

Commander Scott Carpenter, USN (Ret.), one of the original Mercury astronauts and a former VP pilot (VP-6), flew aboard the Mercury-Atlas 7 mission, becoming the 4th American in space and the second to orbit the earth. After the completion of his astronaut tour, CDR Carpenter later joined the navy SEALAB program, which made him the only person ever designated as an astronaut and an aquanaut.

Captain Arnold Isbell (deceased) was the commanding officer of Patrol Squadron (VP) ELEVEN during World War II, during which time he faced a hurricane while surveying military base sites in Newfoundland and skillfully maneuvered his aircraft to make an emergency night landing. Isbell later commanded the escort carrier Card (CVE-11), and coordinated action that destroyed eight U-boats in a two-month period in 1943. He then took his knowledge and experience to Washington DC where he set-up an antisubmarine warfare tactical research and development department. In March of 1945, en route to take command of the Yorktown (CV-10), Isbell was killed when a Japanese plane scored two bomb hits on the carrier in which he was embarked as a passenger.

Rear Admiral Daniel Wolkensdorfer (deceased) served in several VP squadrons throughout his career, commanding both Patrol Squadrons (VP) FORTY-SEVEN and THIRTY. Hailed for his dedication to the maritime patrol community, he was noted most for his service to the development of antisubmarine warfare (ASW) and tactics during the Cold War. Among other positions, Wolkensdorfer served as head of the Air Branch of the Antisubmarine Warfare Division of the Antisubmarine Warfare and Ocean Surveillance Program Office for the Chief of Naval Operations. Wolkensdorfer spent much of his 35-year career in ASW planning, acquisition, testing and operations, which helped shape much of current day ASW tactics.

Selected for their hand in shaping the heritage of the community and/or for bravery in combat, the awards for Carpenter, Isbell and Wolkensdorfer were accepted by family members and colleagues.

Another highlight of the evening’s attendees was a group of nine retired officers who were members of the original P-3C delivery crew in 1969 and/or instructors from Patrol Squadron (VP) THIRTY at the time of the aircraft’s arrival. The self-named “Det Burbank Crew” gathered at two distinguished tables at the Heritage Dinner where they recalled their infamous trip home with the first P-3C.

“When we arrived at NATC Pax River there was a large crowd gathering around to see the `new baby’,” recalled CAPT Ron W. Martin, USN (Ret.), Patrol Squadron (VP) THIRTY’s first P-3C Project Officer who delivered the first P-3C aircraft to the fleet from the assembly line in Burbank, California. “Would you believe the new fancy electronic ladder wouldn’t work?”

The primary aircraft of the US Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF), the P-3 Orion has aided in anti-submarine warfare since the early 1960s when it was introduced to the aviation community by aeronautics corporation Lockheed Martin. The P-3 turboprop was an answer to a late 1950s request by the Chief of Naval Operations for an aircraft with more cabin space, a larger radius and a longer endurance than its predecessor, the P-2 Neptune. In August of 1962, Patrol Squadron (VP) EIGHT took possession of the first P-3, and then in 1969, the final revamp of the Orion, the first “P-3C”, came online.

“From a tactical standpoint, this new `Charlie’ was a quantum leap in improved sensors, data processing, tactical displays, weapons delivery, and decision making assistance over any P-3 system flying at that time,” said Martin. “We all knew Maritime Patrol was about to become a force to be reckoned with.”

A half century later, the celebration of the P-3C Orion comes at both a historic and pivotal point in the MPRF’s future. In June of this year, Jacksonville-based Patrol Squadron (VP) SIXTEEN will receive the first of a fleet of replacement aircraft for the P-3. The P-8A Poseidon, a multi-mission maritime aircraft developed by Boeing, will be the first jet-powered maritime patrol aircraft commandeered by the US Navy.

Integration of the P-8A into the entire MPRF fleet, however, will take a minimum of six years. Until then, the P-3 Orion will continue to play an important role in the critical mission of the U.S. maritime patrol community.

“There are very few airplanes in the world that can tout the distinct honor of being in service for 50 years. This is testament to the ingenuity and innovation of the designers, manufacturers and assemblers who created the P-3 Orion,” said Lockheed Martin Vice President of P-3 Programs and Greenville Operations Ray Burick. “The P-3 is the world standard in maritime patrol and reconnaissance and will continue to serve operators around the globe for many more decades to come.”

As a token of appreciation to the community, Burick presented the first of 755 copies of a limited edition P-3 lithograph to Rear Admiral Hewitt. The lithograph is inlaid with 21 roundels representing all P-3 operators, past and present. The number of lithographs being produced, represents the number of P-3s built by Lockheed Martin worldwide over the last half-century, and brings even more significance in 2012, Lockheed’s 100-year anniversary.

“Throughout those years the men and women of Lockheed Martin have been by your side,” said Burick. “And it is our commitment that we will be dedicated to remain by your side during this period of transition.”

In addition to the Heritage Dinner, MPA coordinated several additional events during the 2012 Symposium in the last week of March, including the MPA general members meeting, a golf tournament, 5K, and flight suit social.


A 501(c)(3) Florida non-profit corporation established in 2011 and headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, the Maritime Patrol Association is the premier professional organization representing the U.S. Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community by promoting the use of the patrol and reconnaissance aircraft in the United States Navy. For more information on membership and corporate sponsorship opportunities, go to:

For more information, contact September Wilkerson, Executive Director, at (904) 563-4036 or; or check out the MPA website at

NAS Jax hosts MPRF Reunion/Symposium |

via NAS Jax hosts MPRF Reunion/Symposium |

[nggallery id=28]

By Lt. Michael Garcia

The fourth Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Reunion and Symposium took place March 26–30 at NAS Jacksonville, hosted by Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11.

More than 500 active duty, reserve and retired maritime patrol personnel from around the world gathered to share ideas and experiences, as well as to catch up with former squadron mates. All Navy MPRF commands were represented, along with Maritime Patrol Forces from Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Admiral John Harvey Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command was the symposium guest speaker.
This year’s reunion focused on recognizing the community’s historical contributions while looking forward to its bright future. The event was unique in that it also marked the much anticipated “roll-out” of the first operational P-8A Poseidon aircraft – which is set to replace the venerable P-3C Orion. VP-30 Commanding Officer and master of ceremonies for the Fleet Introduction, Capt. Mark Stevens, captured the importance of this historic event, “In the same year that our Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force is celebrating 50 years of service for the P-3 Orion – we’re also celebrating the Fleet Introduction of P-8 Poseidon.”
The reunion kicked off with the Commander’s Conference that was followed by a variety of briefs, discussions, round tables and panels geared towards exchanging community experiences, current operations and ideas. Wednesday’s P-8A roll-out and the ribbon-cutting for the P-8A Integrated Training Center were highlights of the week. These events drew national media attention and the guest list included Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown and Boeing President and CEO of Defense, Space and Security Dennis Muilenburg.
Throughout the week, outside of the briefs and meetings, participants were able to enjoy gatherings that included the Maritime Patrol Association (MPA) Heritage Dinner, MPA Golf Tournament and the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) Luncheon. A popular event for many was the Flight Suit Social that capped the week of festivities at the NAS Jacksonville Officers’ Club. Old squadron mates had the opportunity to reflect on their MPA heritage, mingle with old friends and swap sea stories in a relaxed atmosphere.
Another highlight of the week was the MPA Technology Expo in the VP-30 Hangar, where visitors explored exhibits hosted by Boeing, ASEC, WYLE, MOAA, Carley, Lockheed-Martin, and the local MTOC 7 team. Also on display was a full-scale BAMS Demonstration model, a P-8A flight simulator and the Boeing P-8A trailer that included a fully functional tactical crew simulator.
In their remarks on the symposium’s final day, both Adm. Harvey and Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt spoke to the community’s history and future. They praised the personnel who fly and fight these aircraft, and remarked about the responsibilities placed on the shoulders of these Sailors to carry MPRF heritage into the future.
Fittingly, the MOAA recognized one such leader, VP-30 Executive Officer Cmdr. Tony Parton, with the 2012 MPRF Lifetime Leadership Award – for his career-long advancement of the community – and all of those with whom he’s worked during his distinguished career.
Additional recognition for excellence was given to the Combat Aircrews (CAC) who participated in the 2012 Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) Fleet Challenge. The Fleet Challenge is an opportunity for the top CACs from each squadron to demonstrate their ASW prowess. Hewitt announced this year’s champion, CAC 1 of VP-4 from MCBH Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Participants at the 2012 MPRF Reunion and Symposium returned to their commands to share with the rest of the community the information they gathered and to pass on the messages from the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Community leadership.


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



March 31, 2012

The following information was released by the Navy:

By Clark Pierce, Editor, Jax Air News

More than 1,200 distinguished visitors filled the Patrol Squadron 30 hangar at Naval Air Station Jacksonville March 28 to celebrate the first fleet delivery of the P-8A Poseidon multi-mission aircraft.

“In the same year that our maritime patrol and reconnaissance force (MPRF) is celebrating 50 years of service for the P-3 Orion, we’re also celebrating the fleet introduction of P-8 Poseidon,” said Capt. Mark Stevens, VP-30 commanding officer and master of ceremonies.

In his remarks, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson said, “The P-8 is the future of Navy maritime patrol. It will be a critical component of our maritime security and the fleet’s eyes and ears for generations to come. While this aircraft is impressive, the strength of our Navy does not rest with technology alone. The real capability will reside in the men and women who fly and maintain this aircraft. In the hands of our great Sailors, it stands ready to meet the needs of the nation and challenges ahead as we continue to operate forward to reassure allies, deter aggression and when needed, prevail in conflict.”

Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work provided keynote remarks. “As the Navy’s replacement platform for the P-3C, the P-8A Poseidon is transforming how the Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force will man, train, operate and deploy. The P-8A is a network enabled aircraft for the network age, and gives Sailors the added benefits of working with manned and unmanned systems,” said Work. “The training and readiness concept for the Poseidon was designed around a high fidelity simulator solution to provide cost-wise warfighting readiness. The P-8A Integrated Training Facility includes leading-edge operational flight trainers, which will provide innovative and cutting-edge training for today’s warfighter.”

During his remarks he highlighted the partnership of the Navy and industrial base, which made this day possible.

“On behalf of the Secretary of the Navy, I would like to thank the maritime patrol and reconnaissance community, veterans, industry, and the city of Jacksonville.” He added, “thanks and gratitude goes to the City of Jacksonville, which has been such a great host to this base for more than 75 years, and whose citizens embody the values our Sailors fight to protect.”

The next phase for Poseidon will be its integration with the unmanned BAMS platform to create a cohesive team that covers an even greater territory.

The next phase for Poseidon will be its integration with the unmanned BAMS platform to create a cohesive team that covers an even greater territory.

“Maritime patrol is the forward indicator of the U.S. presence around the globe,” said Work. “MPRF is often the first to respond to natural disasters and provide humanitarian relief. These Sailors embody the CNO’s guidance for executing the maritime strategy by demonstrating daily that our Navy is flexible, adaptable and ready to respond globally to preserve the peace. Thank you for allowing me to be part of today’s ceremony.”

At the conclusion of Work’s remarks, Boeing President and CEO of Defense, Space and Security Dennis Muilenburg handed over the “key” for P-8A Poseidon LL 428 to Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt. He, in turn, gave the key to Stevens who ordered, “Poseidon aircrew and maintenance department, prepare LL 428 for flight operations.”

Following the roll out, Work, Brown and Hewitt answered questions from the media.

Work was asked if every P-3 in the Navy would be replaced by the P-8A.

“The P-3 continues to fly after 50 years of service. Only two military aircraft have served longer, the U-2 spy plane and the B-52 bomber. As the P-3C fleet begins to retire aircraft, they will be replaced by a combination of the P-8A and its new partner, the unmanned BAMS (Broad Area Maritime Surveillance),” said Work.

Brown was queried about the importance of Jacksonville’s mayor being part of the ceremony.

“This is a historic occasion for our great city and northeast Florida. We’ve been a military friendly city for a long time and I believe military affairs are an important part of our community. The P-8 shows the benefits of private/public partnerships for the Navy in their development and acquisition process. We’re proud to be part of the P-3/P-8 transition and will support it in any way we can,” replied Brown

Hewitt fielded the question, “How does this P-8 event help the Navy overall?”

“This is a great day for our maritime patrol and reconnaissance force. We wouldn’t be here today without bold leadership from the City of Jacksonville and the creativity of our industry partners. It’s also a humbling day in that many MPRF squadrons are actively patrolling oceans and land areas around the world. So while many P-3s are on station protecting American interests, we’re proudly rolling out the formidable, new P-8 Poseidon,” said Hewitt. “It brings new technology and innovation to bear wherever our country needs us. We’re also very proud of our young naval aircrew and maintainers who are bringing this aircraft to life. We know that the platform is new and important -but it’s the men and women who fly it that makes it a naval asset to be reckoned with.”

After the roll-out event, attendees were invited across the street from VP-30 to the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the P-8A Integrated Training Center (ITC). Flight crew and mission specialists are assigned to the ITC where they undertake classroom instruction as well as full-motion, simulated exercises that present the highest degree of realism.

NAS Jacksonville Commanding Officer Capt. Bob Sanders welcomed a large crowd that seemed eager to tour the $38 million training facility.

“Thank you for being part of this history making day at NAS Jacksonville,” said Sanders. “We’re proud you could join us and learn about the exciting future taking shape for the P-8A Poseidon within the maritime patrol and reconnaissance community.”

For more information, visit , , or .

For more news from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, visit .
Copyright 2012 States News Service

VP-45 to seek three-peat in ASW Fleet Challenge

via VP-45 to seek three-peat in ASW Fleet Challenge |

By Clark Pierce

Photo by Clark Pierce Members of VP-45 CAC-6 display the ASW championship belt that the squadron has held for two years. It's now up for grabs at the 2012 ASW Fleet Challenge held during the annual Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Symposium at NAS Jacksonville. (From left) Lt. j.g. Jordan Schneider, AWO2 Joel Espinoza, AWO2 Timothy Meads, AWO3 Andrew Stover and Lt. Cmdr. Tom Stessensen. (Not pictured: Lt. j.g. Jordan Young and Lt. Seth Eisenmenger.)

More than a dozen of the most effective P-3C Orion combat aircrews (CAC) from CPRW-11 at NAS Jacksonville, CPRW-10 at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash., and CPRW-2 at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii are competing for the “championship belt” to be awarded to the winner of the 2012 ASW Fleet Challenge – held during the annual Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF) Symposium at NAS Jacksonville.
P-3 aircrews from the military forces of Canada, Australia and Japan will also join the weeklong exercise that runs March 24 – 30.
The new P-8A Poseidon recently assigned to VP-30 will compete in the challenge – but is not eligible to win the championship belt because its mission simulator is not fully functional.
MPRF Fleet Challenge Coordinator Lt. Andrew Merlino explained that the competition consists of two parts. First is a P-3C simulator mission utilizing the Tactical Operational Readiness Trainer (TORT). The other part is a real-world flight operation to detect and track a Los Angeles-class attack submarine patrolling somewhere off the coast of northeast Florida.
“The TORT allows CACs to train at the highest level of realism. The sophisticated trainer is designed not only for new operators, but to maintain operational CACs proficiency without leaving the ground,” said Merlino. “For the fleet challenge, each CAC is graded by evaluators at the following positions: plane commander, tactical coordinator, sensor one operator and sensor two operator.”
He added, “The VP-45 ‘Pelicans’ have taken home the championship belt for the past two years and are working hard for a three-peat this week. It all comes down to how we train – and to each CAC’s ability to effectively search for contacts, identify targets, program and release weapons.”
Rear Adm. Michael Hewitt, commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group will award the championship belt to the winning squadron at the MPRF Symposium Flight Suit Social on March 30.


Your Navy TODAY (Mar. 28, 2012)


On any given day, in your Navy, our team of more than 600,000 professional Sailors and Civilians are working together around the globe to perform our mission: deter aggression and, if deterrence fails, win our Nation’s wars. It is not possible to share every aspect of this global team but, through this blog, we offer you a glimpse of what these men and women do.

Vice Adm. Allen G. Myers, left, commander of Naval Air Forces, Adm. Mark Ferguson, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Under Secretary of the Navy Robert O. Work, Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, and Rear Adm. Michael W. Hewitt , commander of Patrol and Reconnaissance Group, pose for a photo after a ceremony to formally introduce the P-8A Poseidon into Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

120327-N-ED185-205 MEDITERRANEAN SEA (March 27, 2012) Sailors wash an F/A-18E Super Hornet on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). Enterprise is deployed as part of the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brian G. Reynolds/Released)

120325-N-LI693-009 PANAMA CANAL, Panama (March 25, 2012) Diesel electric tractors, called mules after the original method of towing, guide the amphibious transport dock ship Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) San Diego (LPD 22) as the ship enters Gatun locks, the first in a series of three, during their transit through the Panama Canal. San Diego, the sixth ship in the San Antonio amphibious class, is on her maiden voyage en route to her future homeport and namesake city following construction at Huntington Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss. San Diego will be commissioned in San Diego in May 2012. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Holly Boynton/Released)

120328-N-DB801-462 SOUTH CHINA SEA (March 28, 2012) Gunner's Mate 1st Class Eduardo Soto, right, instructs Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Matthew Rozeboom on firing a .50-caliber machine gun during a live-fire exercise aboard the U.S. 7th Fleet flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Steven Khor/Released)

Navy Personnel
Active Duty: 323,773
Officers Officers: 53,120
Enlisted Enlisted: 266,146
Midshipmen Midshipmen: 4,507
Ready Reserve: 105,157 [As of Feb 2012 ]
Selected Reserves Selected Reserves: 64,118
Individual Ready Reserve Individual Ready Reserve: 41,039
Reserves currently mobilized: 4,478 [As of 20 Mar 2012]
Personnel on deployment: 47,943
Navy Department Civilian Employees: 203,609
Ships and Submarines
Deployable Battle Force Ships: 282
Total Ships Underway Total Ships Underway: 98 (35% of total)
Deployed Ships Underway Deployed Ships Underway: 63 (22% of total)
Attack Submarines Underway Attack Submarines Underway: 33
Other Underway Other Underway: 35 (12% of total)
Total Ships Deployed/Underway Total Ships Deployed/Underway: 140 (49% of total)
Ships Underway
Underway Aircraft Carriers:
USS Enterprise (CVN 65) – port visit Piraeus, GR
USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) – Atlantic Ocean
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) – port visit Jebel Ali, AE
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) – 5th Fleet
Underway Amphibious Assault Ships:
USS Peleliu (LHA 5) – Pacific Ocean
USS Essex (LHD 2) – 7th Fleet
USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) – 7th Fleet
USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) – Atlantic Ocean
USS Makin Island (LHD 8) – 5th Fleet

Aircraft (operational):

VP-4 Celebrates African-American History Month

March 15, 2012
LTJG Jenna Rose


On 24 February 2012, VP-4’s Command Assessment Team (CAT) recognized African-American History month by having an educational session and potluck. More than thirty people participated in the event. In addition to enjoying the food, the CAT spent time recognizing important African-Americans in both naval and American history. These individuals ranged from the first African-American President, Barack Obama, to the first African-American naval diver, Carl Brashear. “I was very impressed with how many people turned out for the event and how enthusiastic everyone was to share their views,” stated LTJG Robles, VP-4’s Command Management Equal Opportunity Officer. “It was interesting to learn about others and further celebrate and embrace our diversity,” stated LS1 Kushiyama, a CAT member.

The CAT has another educational potluck event planned for March 23, 2012 to celebrate Women’s history month.







VP-4’s CSADD Saves Stream

LTJG Jenna Rose, VP-4 PAO
March 5, 2012


On Saturday, February 18, 2012, Patrol Squadron Four’s (VP-4) Coalition of Sailors Against Destructive Decisions (CSADD) chapter partnered with the He’eia Stream Restoration project to protect the He’eia Stream. Continuing to strengthen community relations, the CSADD chapter worked with over thirty people from the local Kaneohe area clearing areas of non-native species and debris, spreading mulch, planting native species, and maintaining planted areas. “There were many invasive species taking up too much water, so it was important to eliminate those plants, while ensuring the native plants are able to grow in the area,” stated CSADD member AE3(AW) Garcia.

The He’eia Stream Project started in 2010 to restore 4000 feet of riparian habitat in He’eia Stream. In addition to rejuvenating the area, the future goal of the He’eia Stream Restoration project is to allow community groups to utilize the project as an educational experience. “It’s a great opportunity to volunteer and give back to the community, while spending time outdoors,” commented VP-4 CSADD President IS3 Mabry.

VP-4’s CSADD chapter was established in July 2011. While adhering to its mission statement, “Shipmates Helping Shipmates,” the organization works to create a culture in which its members maintain a course of success through good decision making. The chapter is actively involved with the community, and will be taking part in another He’eia Stream Project day on Saturday, March 17, 2012.


AWV3 Carrell, AMC McGennis (and his daughter), AZ3 Jordan, AE3(AW) Garcia, AWV2 Rogoff, and AZ3 Pollard participating in He'eia Stream Restoration Project in Kaneohe, Hawaii.

Weekend Warriors

Weekend Warriors
by LTJG Rose, VP-4 PAO

20 Feb 2012

February 11, 2012 – Early Saturday morning, while the other squadrons were waking up to decide which beach to spend the day, VP-4 was hard at work. The squadron spent time getting ahead; including introducing aircrew to a new mission planning, conducting alcohol and drug abuse prevention training, and executing four flights. Additionally, the squadron completed significant progress on two aircraft in long term maintenance periods.

Personnel lining up for burgers.

However, Saturday was not strictly business. To recognize the Skinny Dragons, Command Services held a burger burn to feed the entire squadron. Night check was acknowledged for their hard work with pizzas.

By putting in the additional time on Saturday, VP-4 was able to make progress in maintaining readiness.

LCDR Brassfield, MC1 Laird and AN Henning grilling lunch.

By displaying such dedication, it is easy to see that the Skinny Dragons continue to live up to their names, “Hawaii’s Best.”












In Memory of VP-50 shipmates



Two Navy Planes Collide Over Pacific; 27 Missing

March 21st, 1991

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO – Two Navy submarine-hunting planes collided Thursday, and all 27 people aboard were feared dead in cold, choppy waters 60 miles off Sourthern California, authorities said.

The Navy listed the crews as missing, but there was little hope any of the crew members from the downed P-3 Orions survived.

The all-weather planes were engaged in an anti-submarine Warfare exercise when they collided in bad weather, authorities said.

“I think we have to be realistic here,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Bob Howard, a Navy public affairs officer at North Island Naval Air Station. “It is very cold out there. We’re talking about what apparently is a mid-air collision…two aircraft. I would say it would be very grim.”

Still, he said, the Navy was conducting an aggressive air and sea search of the crash site.

Search and rescue teams saw some debris from the planes but found no signs of life.

There was no word on how long the search would last, but Howard said the Navy would make “extraordinary” attempts to retrieve remains and wreckage.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the destroyer USS Merrill and at least two other ships, along with helicopters and fixed-wing planes, were assisting in the search.

A Navy helicopter crew flying in the area and sailors from the Merrill reported a ball of fire and loud explosion about 2:30 a.m. PST, Howard said during a briefing at North Island Naval Air Station.

He said the accident occurred over the Pacific Ocean about 60 miles southwest of San Diego.

The collision occurred as one P-3 Orion was arriving to relieve the other, which had just completed its part of the exercise, Howard said. Officials were uncertain how much contact the pilots had before the crash, he said.

Howard said it was believed 13 crew members were aboard one P-3 Orion and 14 on the other. The planes were on a training mission from Moffett Naval Air Station near San Jose. Names of crew members were withheld pending notification of their families.

The P-3s were in contact with land- and sea-based air controllers during the exercise, but officials were uncertain who was directing them at the time of the collision, Howard said.

Showers and strong winds were reported in the San Diego area overnight. The National Weather Service said pilots in the area reported severe turbulence about the time of the collision.

Howard said the Navy was uncertain what part, if any, weather played in the collision.

50 Years of the P-3 Orion

50 Years of the P-3 Orion
Posted by: “Marco P.J. Borst
Thu Mar 15, 2012

Maritime Patrol Association Heritage Dinner to Celebrate 50 Years of the P-3 Orion
JACKSONVILLE, FL – The Maritime Patrol Association (MPA) will celebrate 50 years of the P-3 Orion at their annual Heritage Dinner on March 28, 2012 onboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

“There are very few airplanes in the world that can tout the distinct honor of being in service for 50 years. This is testament to the ingenuity and innovation of the designers, manufacturers and assemblers who created the P-3 Orion,” said Lockheed Martin Vice President of P-3 Programs and Greenville Operations Ray Burick. “The P-3 is the world standard in maritime patrol and reconnaissance and will continue to serve operators around the globe for many more decades to come.”

The primary aircraft of the US Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force (MPRF), the P-3 Orion has aided in anti-submarine warfare since the early 1960s when it was introduced to the aviation community by aeronautics corporation Lockheed Martin. The P-3 turboprop was an answer to a late 1950s request by the Chief of Naval Operations for an aircraft with more cabin space, a larger radius and a longer endurance than its predecessor, the P-2 Neptune. In August of 1962, Patrol Squadron (VP) EIGHT took possession of the first P-3, and then in 1969, the final revamp of the Orion, the first “P-3C”, came online.

“From a tactical standpoint, this new ‘Charlie’ was a quantum leap in improved sensors, data processing, tactical displays, weapons delivery, and decision making assistance over any P-3 system flying at that time,” said CAPT Ron W. Martin, USN (Ret.), Patrol Squadron (VP) THIRTY’s first P-3C Project Officer. “We all knew Maritime Patrol was about to become a force to be reckoned with.”

A half century later, the celebration of the P-3C Orion comes at both a historic and pivotal point in the MPRF’s future. In June of this year, Jacksonville-based Patrol Squadron (VP) SIXTEEN will receive the first of a fleet of replacement aircraft for the P-3. The P-8A Poseidon, a multi-mission maritime aircraft developed by Boeing, will be the first jet-powered maritime patrol aircraft commandeered by the US Navy.

The Heritage Dinner will take place during the 2012 MPA Symposium week of March 27-30, 2012, onboard Naval Air Station Jacksonville. In addition to the dinner, symposium attendees can register for a host of events, including the P-8A Poseidon Roll-Out, Integrated Training Center dedication, a Flight Suit Social, golf tournament, 5K, and others. The Heritage Dinner, which will highlight the history and heritage of the last 50 years of the P-3 aircraft, will also serve as a ceremony for three new Hall of Honor inductees from the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community.

Interested parties can receive more information about the 2012 Symposium, as well as register online, by going to:

A 501(c)(3) Florida non-profit corporation established in 2011 and headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, the Maritime Patrol Association plans on being a premier professional organization representing the U.S. Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance community by promoting the use of the patrol and reconnaissance aircraft in the United States Navy. For more information, contact September Wilkerson, Executive Director, at (904) 563-4036 or; or check out the MPA website at

Don’t miss the 2012 MPA Symposium! For all of the details, go to:

Commander Naval Air Forces Visits Patrol Squadron Sixteen

Original article:

By Lt. j.g. Michael Glynn
Posted: March 15, 2012

OKINAWA, Japan (March 11, 2012) - Vice Adm. Allen G. Myers, commander of Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, addresses questions from Sailors assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 16. The "War Eagles" are deployed supporting Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gulianna Mandigo)

OKINAWA, Japan – Vice Adm. Allen Myers, Commander Naval Air Forces, visited the ‘War Eagles’ of Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 on March 11th to meet with Sailors and witness current maritime patrol operations in the Western Pacific.

Myers held an all-hands ‘Admiral’s Call’ to answer questions and listen to feedback from aircrew and maintenance personnel. He shared his thoughts on the introduction of the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to the fleet. The ‘War Eagles’ are the first squadron to transition to the aircraft following their current deployment.

“The ‘War Eagles’ were chosen to lead the transition to the P-8 due to sustained performance and leadership,” said Myers. “It’s very important to lean forward during the transition as we bring the new capabilities of the Poseidon to the fleet.”

Myers also spoke about the evolving force structure and manning of Naval Aviation. He stressed the new capabilities that the P-8A was bringing to the fleet and the importance of being able to project power globally.

“The most critical mission we can perform is to protect the sea base,” said Myers. “The Poseidon is critical to that task and recapitalizing the maritime patrol community is our most important priority.”

“I was impressed to hear Admiral Myers speak about how important the P-8 program is to Naval Aviation,” said Naval Aircrewman Second Class Aaron Dial. “The chance to transition to a new job and a new platform is all we talk about.”

VP-16 is a maritime patrol squadron that conducts routine security, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. The squadron operates the P-3C Orion and is based ashore Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. Following their current deployment they will transition to the new P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft. VP-16 is currently forward-deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa and flies in support of Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet.

P-3 Orion Research Group website

Dear all,

I am proud to announce that we have just uploaded the new P-3 Orion Research Group website!!

Besides a completely new layout we added an important new feature: our P-3 Aircraft Location History Report (ALHR) has now been published online! This report is giving the entire service life history for each individual P-3 Orion in the world. Our ALHR was last published eleven years ago in our “P-3 Orion Volume 2” booklet. Last year we decided that we will not publish a third booklet and instead we have now published the ALHR online. And there is more: it’s our intention to publish an updated ALHR four times a year.

Another change to the website is the news section. In the past this wasn’t refreshed as often as we wanted. Next to the news section we published our “Orion Nieuws” in Dutch language as a PDF document on the website. We have decided to quit publishing this Dutch news issues and instead we now publish this news in English as an integrated part of the website. Also for the news section it is our intention to publish new issues four times a year.

Please be advised that some sections of the new website are still under construction. And the text of other sections (like the history, variants and operators sections) still need to be updated. This will be done over the next few weeks. And of course we will be adding more photos to the existing pages over the next few weeks too.

We hope you will enjoy the new layout and especially the P-3 Aircraft Location History Report.

Marco P.J. Borst and Jaap Dubbeldam
P-3 Orion Research Group – The Netherlands


Visit the site at:

Boeing delivers first production P-8A to U.S. Navy

737-based maritime patrol jet replacing P-3 Orion
AUBREY COHE, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Published 08:29 p.m., Tuesday, March 6, 2012

[nggallery id=21]

Boeing delivered the first production version of its new maritime patrol jet for the U.S. Navy Tuesday.

The P-8A Poseidon, based on a Boeing 737-800 airliner, is set to replace the Navy’s P-3 Orion turboprop airplanes as the Navy’s anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. The Navy has ordered an initial batch of 13 — on top of the six flight-test and two ground-test airplanes — and ultimately plans to buy 117. The first ones are set to enter operational service next year.

“Delivering this capability to the warfighter is the ultimate goal and we’re proud to be able to meet our commitment and hand over the P-8A ‘keys’ to the Navy fleet,” Chuck Dabundo, Boeing vice president and P-8 program manager, said in a news release.

Rear Admiral Paul Grosklags, U.S. Navy Program Executive Officer for Air Anti-Submarine Warfare, Assault & Special Mission Programs, said the P-8A “will provide the users and operators a step increase in mission capabilities.”

After delivery in Seattle, Navy pilots flew the jet to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla., for use to train air crews. The flight-test P-8As are based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.

The basic aircraft goes through Boeing’s 737 production process, ending with assembly in Renton, Wash., and then heads to a facility near Boeing Field, in Seattle, for addition of military systems.

Boeing also has orders for eight P-8I variants for India’s navy. See photos of the P-8A, P-8I and Seattle production facility in the gallery [below].

Read more aerospace news. Visit’s home page for more Seattle news.

Read more:


Next Gathering in Charleston, SC

Francis Marion Hotel
September 11 – 13, 2012
Check out Sept 14

Rooms can be reserved by calling
Ask for VP4 OFFICERS rate
Cutoff date for our special reunion rate is August 12, 2012

More details to follow soon!
Bob Kessler, Phone 702-363-3307