Category Archives: General

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):

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

Commanding Officer of VQ-1 Relieved

The commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 1, Cmdr. Jeffrey Wissel, has been relieved of duty while allegations of personal misconduct are investigated.

A brief statement released by Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet said Wissel was relieved late Monday afternoon by Vice Adm. Allen G. Myers.

Executive officer, Cmdr. David Sauve, has assumed command of VQ-1 pending the outcome of the investigation.

“The responsibility of officers in command of their units, their sailors and their mission is absolute; we take their performance very seriously,” the statement read. “Our standards of conduct and performance for commanding officers are extremely high.”

Wissel took command of VQ-1 in April, 2011.

Test Post

Hi folks,

This post is to test the network publishing for the VP-4 Veterans Association. If you see this on Facebook, please comment.

If you see this on Twitter, please reply, or DM, or comment.


Thank you,


Hangar One’s future needs to be addressed now

Original Article: Fate of Silicon Valley icon hangs in limbo – Therese Polettis Tech Tales – MarketWatch.

By Therese Poletti, MarketWatch

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Anyone who has driven through Silicon Valley has seen the strange concrete and steel hangar that looms just off Highway 101 like an above-ground bunker.

Hangar One, on the former Moffett Field military base adjacent to Mountain View, is large in every sense of the word: it is nearly two hundred feet high, longer than the length of three football fields and 308 feet wide. See slideshow of vintage Hangar One images.

To a few it is an eyesore. But to many, the 79-year-old icon represents what helped create Silicon Valley — engineering and technological prowess, important moments in aeronautics and defense history, marred by the vestiges of an environmental mess.

Built to house Navy dirigibles in 1933, Hangar One is endangered again. An ongoing cleanup to remove the hangar’s toxic siding and save it from demolition lacks funding to finish the job properly. In September, the founders of Google Inc.GOOG -0.30% offered to foot the bill of $33 million or more, through a company that runs their fleet of private planes.

But NASA Ames Research, which owns the hangar and the former military base, has let their offer to pay for the cost to “reskin” the hangar dangle like a moored airship, hovering in the wind.

“We are going to have to reconsider our proposal,” said Ken Ambrose, director of operations for H211, which operates the fleet of seven planes owned by Google Chief Executive Larry Page, co-founder Sergey Brin and chairman Eric Schmidt. “I guess trying to be efficient is out of the federal government’s lexicon.”

The caveat of the offer is that the Google founders want to store their fleet in Hangar One, a 10-minute drive from the Googleplex. The fleet includes a Boeing 767-200 jet airliner; the rest are smaller planes. The H211 company is among a small number of companies and federal agencies with permission to use the former naval airfield. Moffett Field is also where Air Force One lands on President Obama’s Bay Area visits.

Chas. Dye

Air Force One on one of the two airstrips at Moffett Field, with a partially unskinned Hangar One in the background, on Sept. 25, 2011.

A spokesman for NASA Ames said the discussions about the hangar’s future “are being worked at the top levels of government,” perhaps meaning that the White House is involved. “We are optimistic we are heading in the right direction and doing what’s best for the local community,” said spokesman Michael Mewhinney. “We hope to reach a decision later this year.”

Both Ambrose of H211 and locals trying to preserve Hangar One, which is part of an historic district on the National Register and a California civil engineering landmark, said a decision needs to happen soon. The Navy, the hangar’s former owners, has contractors now working on a massive cleanup and removal of the old siding to remove asbestos, PCBs, and other toxic contaminants. The job is about half finished. But the Navy doesn’t have to invest in and install a new skin back on the hangar after the removal is finished, which could expose or damage the steel skeleton.

“The fear is that if the building remains uncovered, it will deteriorate,” said Lenny Siegel, who founded the Save Hangar One committee and is a local environmental advocate. “It’s my belief, but I can’t prove it, that the H211 proposal is snagged in bureaucracy. It’s the larger question of the future of Moffett Field as part of NASA. D.C. thinks of Moffett as a nuisance and not part of their mission. It’s useful, but not a necessity.”

On Monday, NASA’s budget for fiscal 2013 was announced. NASA Ames was spared any cuts. In fact, its budget got a slight increase to $711 million from $690 million in 2012, in part due to the costs to maintain its older buildings. The NASA Ames spokesman declined to comment further on Hangar One and said the decision is being made in Washington.

In addition to potential deterioration if the famous hangar is left uncovered with only a coat of paint, another more ominous problem is at stake. “That is only a temporary measure,” Ambrose said. “As the elements wear on the paint, all those contaminants get into the groundwater again.”

The Navy has also set up a multi-million dollar scaffolding system around the giant structure for the removal project that could be efficiently used again to install new, non-toxic siding on the hangar.

A storied past

Hangar One was initially built to house the USS Macon, one of the largest rigid dirigibles, or airships, that used non-flammable helium to keep afloat. Germany’s successful reconnaissance missions with the rigid airships — called Zeppelins after their inventor — during World War I spurred their adoption in the U.S., England, France and Italy in the 1920s. Dirigibles were valued for their speed and ability to travel long distances without refueling.

The Macon arrived at Hangar One in 1933 and was used for surveillance missions until it crashed into the ocean in a storm off the coast of Point Sur in 1935. All but two of its crew were saved.

Two years later, in 1937, the young airship industry, which by then was exploring Zeppelins for passenger travel, would collapse completely with the disastrous explosion of the hydrogen-filled Hindenberg. Today, new designs of safer airships are undergoing something of a revival for alternative transport of goods, terrain exploration, and again, for military reconnaissance.

Moffett Field Historical Society

In this 1934 U.S. Navy photo, the USS Macon arrives at Hangar One.

“It’s an asset that can not be easily re-created,” said Brian Hall, CEO of Airship Ventures, which uses Hangar Two on Moffett Field, for its Eureka airship. His company, which also offers passenger Zeppelin rides, had its airship built in Germany. See previous column on Airship Ventures

If Hangar One is properly restored it could also be used to build, test or maintain other airships in this burgeoning “airship village,” Hall noted, because of its size and steel frame. In 2010, Northrop Grumman NOC +0.59% won a $517 million contract to build three airships for the U.S. Army. “Why is all this business going to the East Coast?” Hall said.

The USS Macon and Hangar One put Moffett Field on the map, the first inklings of the local defense industry that helped create Silicon Valley.

“It’s an imposing structure,” said Bill Stubkjaer, curator at the Moffett Field Historical Society. “This is almost the beginning of Silicon Valley….If Moffett wasn’t here, I don’t think NASA would have been here and if NASA wasn’t here, I don’t think Lockheed would have been here. This has really led the transformation of Mountain View and Sunnyvale from farming communities to a center of high tech.”

As NASA dawdles, the locals stew, and time passes. And who knows how long H211’s offer will last?

“This is a situation that needs a decision,” Ambrose said.

Therese Poletti is a senior columnist for MarketWatch in San Francisco.

VP-4 awarded Battle ‘E’ for 2011!

COMNAVAIRFOR Announces 2011 Aviation Battle ‘E’ Winners.

COMNAVAIRFOR Announces 2011 Aviation Battle ‘E’ Winners
By Commander, Naval Air Forces Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) announced the winners of the 2011 Aviation Battle Efficiency (Battle “E”) awards Feb. 10.

The aviation Battle “E” is the Navy’s top performance award presented to the aircraft carrier and aviation squadron in each competitive category that achieves the highest standards of performance readiness and efficiency. The award recognizes a unit’s training and operational achievements while including a balance that incentivizes efficiency.

USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) was the Battle “E” winner of the aircraft carrier category for the West Coast while the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) won for the East Coast.

“The warfighting excellence shown by these squadrons and the Vinson and the Bush proves them to be the best of the best. I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments,” said Vice Adm. Al Myers, CNAF commander. “In a time of increased demand and a constrained fiscal environment, these Sailors, Officers and Aviators continue to deliver combat effectiveness and to display the professionalism and pride that is the hallmark of Naval Aviation.”

In the aviation squadron competitions, each aviation Type-Commander selects a winner in every category, while CNAF selects the Navy-wide winners, resulting in three sets of recipients.

The 2011 Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic squadrons selected as Battle “E” winners are:

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 15, “Valions”, for the VFA-C category
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136, “Knighthawks”, for the VFA-E/F category
Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141, “Shadow Hawks”, for the VAQ CVW category
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 124, “Bear Aces”, for the VAW category
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9, “Tridents”, for the HS/HSC category
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 42, “Proud Warriors”, for the HSL EXP category
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, “Dragon Wales”, for the HSC EXP category
Patrol Squadron (VP) 10, “Red Lancers”, for the VP category

The 2011 Commander, Naval Air Force Pacific Fleet squadrons selected as Battle “E” winners are:

Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 151, “Vigilantes”, for the VFA-C category
Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2, “Bounty Hunters”, for the VFA-E/F category
Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131, “Lancers”, for the VAQ CVW category
Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, “Black Eagles”, for the VAW category
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4, “Black Knights”, for the HS/HSC category
Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37, “Easy Riders”, for the HSL EXP category
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23, “Wildcards”, for the HSC EXP category
Patrol Squadron (VP) 4, “Skinny Dragons”, for the VP category

The 2011 CNAF squadrons selected as Battle “E” winners are:

Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132, “Scorpions”, for the VAQ EXP category
Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77, “Saberhawks”, for the HSM category
Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15 “Blackhawks”, for the HM category
Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 2 “Rangers”, for the VQ EW category
Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 4, “Shadows”, for the VQ TACAMO category
Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit (VPU) 1, “Pirates”, for the VPU category
Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 “Providers”, for the VRC category

The Battle “E” competition is conducted to strengthen individual command performance, overall force readiness, and to recognize outstanding performance within the naval aviation force.

Grading metrics for attaining the Battle “E” award include: Operational achievement, training, inspection accomplishments, material and personnel readiness, aviation safety, weapon systems and tactics development, and contributions to the aviation community.

Each member attached to a winning ship or squadron earns the right to wear the Battle “E” ribbon on their uniform, or if they already posses that ribbon, they can add an additional “E” device to the ribbon.

Executing the Maritime Strategy

Executing the Maritime Strategy.

Executing the Maritime Strategy

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and the Republic of Singapore Navy frigates RSS Formidable (68) and RSS Stalwart (72) are underway

“Together with our allies and partners, we will continue our commitment to maritime security and freedom of the seas in the Asia-Pacific region. We tangibly demonstrate this commitment through credible, purposeful forward presence. Our presence must prioritize the current war-fighting readiness necessary to operate as an effective force across the full range of our maritime strategy.”
– Adm. Cecil D Haney, Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Around the world, the Navy is executing the core capabilities of the Maritime Strategy; examples from January include:

Forward Presence

  • The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group flew 760 sorties totaling more than 1,090 hours of support for maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.
  • Ninety-eight U.S. Navy Reserve Sailors assigned to Navy Expeditionary Logistics Support Group FORWARD provided air cargo, fuels support, and expeditionary support services in Kuwait and Afghanistan.

Maritime Security


  • Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 4 teams protected Military Sealift Command vessels and other high value units in Kuwait, the Horn of Africa, and Rota, Spain.
  • USS McClusky (FFG 41) departed San Diego for an independent deployment to the Eastern Pacific Ocean in support of Combating Transnational Organized Crime operations.

Power Projection

  • Commander, Task Force 57 flew 198 sorties totaling 1,490 hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, counter-piracy and Partnership Strength Presence.
  • USS New Orleans (LPD 19) conducted joint training with the U.S. Army, qualifying AH-64 Apache helicopters for landing on the ship’s flight deck, demonstrating the U.S. military’s flexibility and interoperability.

Building Maritime Partnerships

Humanitarian Assistance / Disaster Response

  • Maritime Civil Affairs Team 205 trained local medical personnel on proper medical incineration procedures and certified a medical incinerator used to prevent the spread of HIV in eastern Kenya.
  • An aircrew assigned to Patrol Squadron 47, operating from Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily, helped rescue 68 people adrift on a powerless raft in the Mediterranean Sea.

Status of the Navy (as of Feb. 8, 2012):

Active Duty: 323,773
Officers: 53,120
Enlisted: 266,146
Midshipmen: 4,507
Ready Reserve: 103,805 [As of Dec 2011 ]
Selected Reserves: 63,971
Individual Ready Reserve: 39,834
Reserves currently mobilized: 4,518 [As of 31 Jan 2012]
Personnel on deployment: 47,943
Navy Department Civilian Employees: 203,609
Ships and Submarines
Deployable Battle Force Ships: 285
Total Ships Underway: 118 (41% of total)
Deployed Ships Underway: 61 (21% of total)
Other Underway: 57 (20% of total)
Total Ships Deployed/Underway: 155 (54% of total)
Ships Underway
Aircraft Carriers:
USS Enterprise (CVN 65) – Atlantic Ocean
USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) – 5th Fleet
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) – 5th Fleet
USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) – 7th Fleet
USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) – Atlantic Ocean
Amphibious Assault Ships:
USS Peleliu (LHA 5) – Pacific Ocean
USS Wasp (LHD 1) – Atlantic Ocean
USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) – Atlantic Ocean
USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) – Atlantic Ocean
USS Makin Island (LHD 8) – 5th Fleet
Aircraft (operational): 3700+

The “Sapporo 6″ – Sailors Take on Snow Cube in Annual Snow Festival

The “Sapporo 6″ – Sailors Take on Snow Cube in Annual Snow Festival.

The “Sapporo 6″ – Sailors Take on Snow Cube in Annual Snow Festival

The following blog post, written by Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs Officer Senior Chief Daniel Sanford, takes you on a journey to the 63rd annual Sapporo Snow Festival. This festival is more than just snow sculpting; it’s about building camaraderie and following through on a commitment to reach a common goal… which happen to be characteristics we use in the Navy. Come along as Daniel takes us along this “cool” ride by the “Can Do” team in part ONE of TWO on the event coverage.

Day 1: The “Sapporo Six.” That’s the tremendously-unoriginal moniker I’ve given this year’s Navy Misawa Snow Sculpting Team. Comprised of six handpicked Sailors from various commands on board Naval Air Facility Misawa, they all currently reside on the northern end of Japan’s Honshu Island, in the heart of Misawa City. NAF Misawa is also home to 14 tenant or deployed commands encompassing about 800 Sailors. From this multitude of outstanding Sailors, only six were chosen, thus begetting, well … see the first sentence.

“Sapporo Six” (minus Billy!)

Led by Chief Builder Billy Knox, a Navy Seabee originally from Chapin, Ill., the team is comprised of six Sailors from six unique Misawa Navy Commands: BUC Christopher “Billy” Knox, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Far East Detachment Misawa Misawa; IS3 Class Zachary James, Naval Air Facility Misawa; ET2 Class James Johnston, Commander Task Force 72; CTCSN Herschel Moore,Navy Information Operations Command Misawa; ATAN Trevor Teschel, Patrol Squadron 1; ADAN Alvin Zuilan, Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Detachment Misawa

Having never been formally introduced to each other until today, and with virtually no discernible snow sculpting skills, the team is about to depart on a full-day’s journey from Misawa to Sapporo, located on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. It is there they will take part in the 63rd Annual Sapporo Snow Festival.

Every year NAF Misawa and its tenant commands send a team of Sailors to the festival to represent the base and the strong relationship it shares with the community.

While there, the team is also tasked with taking part in the festival’s snow sculpture event, in which they attempt to build a sculpture from a six-foot-by-six-foot cube of compacted snow.

Of this year’s team, only Knox has previous experience with snow sculpting, as he led up the team that built last year’s sculptures.

I say sculptures because in 2011, his team built a pretty cool looking “snow anchor,” which unfortunately succumbed to unseasonably warm weather and collapsed just two days before the festival was due to open. But in keeping with this Seabee’s “can-do” spirit, Knox rallied his team forward, and within 18 hours, built the “Phoenix Anchor,” a completely new anchor that proudly jutted toward the Sapporo skyline and remained on display for the more than 200,000 festivalgoers.

Billy Knox

So when asked whether Knox was gun shy about building another creation out of nothing more than snow and the grease of Sailor elbows, he quickly replied in his bastardized Illinois twang, “Hell Nah.”

And true to his word, this year’s creation is not for the meek sculptor. The team has signed on to build a bust of the famous “Lone Sailor” statue. Yes, it’s a head-and-shoulders replica of the monument that currently resides at the U.S. Navy Memorial inWashington D.C. And while the anchor sculpture had a more basic-angular feel, creating detailed facial features from a block of snow certainly represents a whole new set of challenges for the team – the least of which is a deadline of Sunday, Feb. 5.

Whether or not the Sapporo Six are successful depends largely on their teamwork, attitude, commitment, skill and the weather. Thankfully (and I use this word loosely), temperatures will dip into the single digits this week, which should help alleviate the concern of another warm-weather collapse.

But, as Knox said to his team upon meeting them, “Failure is not an option.”


DAY 2: Following a day of travel that featured eight hours on the road in the “snowflake 3000,” interspersed with a four-hour ferry ride from Honshu Island to Hokkaido Island, the “Sapporo Six” were finally in Sapporo.

Their first stop was to the Camp Sapporo “So You Kai” office and a meeting and gift exchange with Camp Sapporo Command Sgt. Maj. Hiroaki Sanpai.

Sanpai and Snow Sculpting Team Leader Chief Builder Christopher “Billy” Knox have grown a close relationship stemming from last year’s visit. When Knox’s first snow anchor sculpture collapsed due to unseasonably warm weather, it was Sanpai who offered assistance with rebuilding it, and personally came out to the site to help Knox and his team rebuild the “Phoenix Anchor.”

After exchanging gift plaques in honor of the close friendship between NAF Misawa and Camp Sapporo, Sanpai took the team out to the site where they’ll be constructing their “Lone Sailor” snow sculpture for the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Since construction of the sculpture wasn’t scheduled until tomorrow, the team had to settle for just looking at the six-foot-by-six-foot block of compacted snow. All agreed they couldn’t wait until tomorrow to start chopping it up.

The team was next escorted to Sapporo City Hall where they met with the city’s tourism manager. The team was served hot tea and each received a “happy coat” as a gift from the city.

The last meeting was with Camp Sapporo’s Garrison Commander and the team once again enjoyed hot tea and a few minutes with the base leadership.

The final event of the day was a get-together dinner hosted by the Camp Sapporo “So You Kai,” which featured dinner and drinks in a very social environment. Each attendee had the opportunity to stand up and formally introduce themself to the crowd. Even though communication may have been difficult with the language barrier, it’s funny how the communication process is easier after a few beers together.

That’s it for today. Tomorrow brings about the first day of sculpting and the “Sapporo Six” are ready to turn a snow cube into a Navy dude.


DAY 3: So with the pleasantries of yesterday complete, the stark challenge facing the “Sapporo Six”

How do you use this…

to make this iconic image…

out of this ice block?

Team Lead, “Billy” Knox, who normally builds things out of concrete, utilized his training as a U.S. Navy Seabee and decided to create a giant snow graph.

The original design that Knox intends to use is on graph paper, so the best way to move forward is to make the creation to scale. So as the temperatures stubbornly remained in the teens, his team began the tedious task of inserting horizontal and vertical lines approximately eight-inches apart. I say approximately, because while the block of compressed snow is supposed to be six-foot-by-six-foot, apparently its creation is not an exact science. So in the words of Knox:

ET2 James Johnston and ATAN Trevor Teschel

“Guess we better improvise.”

Hours later after the graph lines are applied with chalk and the design is roughly inserted into the snow using markers, the team begins chipping, chiseling, and in many instances, pounding away at the enormous snow cube.

ET2 Class James Johnston

Within an hour, a Navy “dixie cup” of sorts began to take form – or a banana – depending on from what angle you were looking at.

Additionally, Naval Air Facility Misawa Command Master Chief Mike Napier, who took leave to be in Sapporo with the team, stopped by to lend a hand (and a chisel). Napier has been a big supporter of the team the past two years and even paid for the team’s snowcaps out of pocket. Although he retires from the Navy next month after 30 years of service, he had the energy of a screamin’ seaman as he climbed all over the sculpture to help remove the excess snow.

But as the hours passed, the frigid temperatures made the sculpting that much more problematic.

“I have on three pairs of socks and I still can’t feel my toes,” said IT3 Zachary James. Although he’s a Seattle native, the Pacific Northwest has nothing on a northern Japan winter.

In fact, very few of these Sailors even come from cold-weather areas. Heck, ET2 James Johnston was born in Hawaii. So the difficulty of the design, along with the long hours spent outside in the frozen Sapporo tundra, will make the next few days very challenging for the team.

By the time the sun began to set, the team had spent about eight hours on the project and the sculpture looked like this:

So while the “the Lone Sailor” looks more like a dangerous loner right now, know that the team will be out here again bright and early again tomorrow morning. First order of business: making that nose a littttle less bulbous. Hooyah, Snow Team!

CHECK BACK Wednesday for the next report on the Sapporo 6!

Your Navy Operating Forward

Your Navy Operating Forward.

Your Navy Operating Forward

Right now your Navy is 100% on watch around the globe helping to preserve the American way of life. Whether it be operating and training in the waters off the coast of Virginia or forward deployed to the South China Sea, the flexibility and presence provided by our U.S. naval forces provides national leaders with great options for protecting and maintaining our national security and interests around the world. The imagery below highlights the Navy’s ability to provide those options by operating forward.

SOUTH CHINA SEA – Flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).

ARABIAN GULF – Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Tanner Kent guides a U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopter off the flight deck of the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18).

ATLANTIC OCEAN – The MK-45 5-inch/.54-caliber lightweight gun fires aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78).

SUEZ CANAL – The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92) passes the Freedom Bridge as it transits the Suez Canal.

ATLANTIC OCEAN – Members of the visit, board, search, and seizure team aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) board a rigid-hull inflatable boat.

PACIFIC OCEAN Sailors from the air department aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) stand position as a helicopter lifts off from the flight deck.

ATLANTIC OCEAN Landing Craft Air-Cushion (LCAC) 37 maneuvers off the coast of North Carolina during the coalition exercise Bold Alligator 2012 as the amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) is seen in the background.

ARABIAN SEA – An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 22 launches from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70)

To Boldly Go… a tricorder for the Navy?

To Boldly Go… a tricorder for the Navy?.

To Boldly Go… a tricorder for the Navy?

Star Trek‘ movies and TV series spelled big business for Paramount Pictures. Trekkers-and we all know (or are) one-can rattle off dozens of fictional devices straight from the scenes of the sci-fi powerhouse.

But did the movie reel influence a real-life medical device?

We’re not writing this off to the old adage that “life imitates art,” but, it’s pretty hard to dismiss the uncanny functional similarities between Star Trek’s tricorder and the Infrascanner, a device sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and approved by the FDA December 2011. Both hand-held devices scanned for varying degrees of injury.

The Infrascanner uses near-infrared technology to penetrate the skull and locate bleeding in the brain, according to ONR officials. (Hollywood hasn’t divulged the inner workings of the tricorder just yet.)

“Naval warfighters, on ship or land, may be a great distance away from any definitive medical care,” said Dr. Michael Given, ONR’s program manager for expeditionary medicine, combat casualty care. “So something like this could be very useful, almost essential.”

Current medical imaging machines, like x-rays or MRIs, are too big and heavy for all but the largest ships like aircraft carriers — so you can understand why they don’t work for expeditionary forces in remote locations.

So, while ONR may be focused on equipping ships and personnel with advanced medical technology for actual practice, it may have just set the bar for future explorers to boldly go where no man has gone before.

YouTube DoDLive

Navy Culinary Specialists-Without ‘em the Fleet Don’t Eat

Navy Culinary Specialists-Without ‘em the Fleet Don’t Eat.

Navy Culinary Specialists-Without ‘em the Fleet Don’t Eat

Gone are the days when Navy cooks just sling hash, serve “sh#t on a shingle,” and make Navy bean soup. Today’s culinary specialists (CS’s) are highly trained in preparing nutritious and delicious meals in sometimes less than ideal conditions. Whether it’s grilling on a ship operating in heavy seas, baking in a desert tent, sautéing while submerged in a submarine or braising at ten thousand feet–Navy CSs are deployed around the globe ensuring the men and women of America’s Navy operate at peak performance.

We know this food doesn’t magically appear when our Sailors are ready for it. Much planning and detail goes into menu preparation and food creation. Today’s CS’s have greater culinary instruction than ever before with even more advanced training on the way. Recently instruction and competition events were held in Norfolk and San Diego to help our would-be “Bobby Flays” and “Cat Coras” hone their skills and see how they stack-up against their peers. If you didn’t know any better you would think the clips below were pulled directly from Food Network orGordon Ramsey’s latest show on Fox.

Norfolk–“Top Chop” Mid-Atlantic Regional Galley Competition

San Diego– 5th annual “Iron Chef” Competition for Navy Region Southwest, judged by award winning chef, Sam “The Cooking Guy” Zien, of the Discovery Health network’s, “Just Cook This!”

Key Take Aways Regarding Navy Culinary Specialists:

– More than 7,000 deployed around the globe, feed on average more than 92 million wholesome and nutritious top quality meals per year, ensuring our fighting forces are operating at peak performance to respond to threats worldwide.

– Nothing impacts Sailors on a day-to-day basis more than the great food our CSs prepare for them-these top quality meals directly contribute to Sailor quality of life and morale.

Today’s CSs have greater culinary instruction than ever before-with even more advanced training on the way. Our Sailors, both afloat and ashore can look forward to healthier and better tasting meals in the near future.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Original Article: Biting Off More Than You Can Chew.

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

This blog post comes from Derek Nelson from the Naval Safety Center who asks – and answers – the question, “is it better to know more than you’ve forgotten?” This “safety guy” gives a serious subject.

I’ve gotten lots of mileage out of two closely-related quotations through the years, and scarcely a week goes by that I don’t gather new evidence as to their basic truth.

The first is from Clint Eastwood’s movie-cop “Dirty Harry” Callahan: “A man’s got to know his limitations.” The second is from 18th-century English poet Alexander Pope, who wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.”

When you are unfamiliar with an activity — you’ve never ridden an ATV or gone rock climbing, for example — you realize that you’re clueless and (one would hope) act accordingly. But after you’ve been doing something successfully for a while, it can be hard to tell how many more skills you need to acquire. Do you know 10 percent of what you need to know, or 90 percent? And where would you like to discover the fact that you’re on the low end of the knowledge scale? I’ll bet that it isn’t when you’re heading into a 35-mph curve on your new motorcycle at 50 mph. Incidentally, believe it or not, there is gravel on roads sometimes, another fact you don’t want to simultaneously discover.

Granted, most of us would rather brag about how great we are. But if you don’t follow Dirty Harry’s advice, activities that start out as fun and exciting end up in painful and expensive trips to the ER. You run the risk of self-inflicting some other limitations, such as how well your arms and legs work. You may be living with those self-inflicted results for a surprisingly long time, and you probably won’t be doing much mountain biking or wake surfing while you heal.

Two social psychologists at a university did a study involving a number of tests. They asked participants to estimate how well they would perform before they took each test. The result: The participants who rated themselves highest did worst. And the reverse was true: People who scored high tended to underestimate their skills. When the people who had overrated themselves got some training, they became less sure of themselves. They had gained a notion of how much more there was to learn.

I’m often surprised (and skeptical) at how much alleged “experience” the people in mishap reports claim to have had at the time they did the bone-headed stunt that landed them in the report. Here’s what doesn’t count as “experience”: bad habits, risky behaviors, and doing something wrong repeatedly. Some people, over the course of a decade, get 10 years of experience; others get one year, repeated 10 times.

Perusing a special “complacency” issue of Approach magazine, I found a terrific one-liner about the cause of aircraft mishaps: “Usually it is because someone does too much too soon, followed very quickly by too little too late.” If that doesn’t describe most of the motorcycle wrecks I’ve read about lately, I don’t know what does: too much acceleration, and too little learning the limitations of the bike’s brakes and the rider’s own skills.

Same goes for a lot of what mishap reports refer to as “inadvertent actuations,” which is the weakest possible way to describe the noise and damage that result when someone fires a weapon by mistake and the round tears a hole in the nearest wall, ceiling, or body part. These mishaps are invariably the result of not following the simple rules of weapons handling, getting way too comfortable with a weapon, and/or not getting enough training (or, more likely, not paying attention to the training someone was trying to give you). They may be highly experienced and have no shortage of learning, but they still underestimate the powers of complacency and distraction.

The basic rules of handling weapons aren’t that hard to follow. And if there is one place where you have to know your limitations, it’s when your index finger is near a trigger.

As with any other exciting and non-mandatory activity involving such things as cliffs, whitewater rapids, snow-covered mountains, noisy engines and adrenaline, the point isn’t to avoid the activity. The point is to do it in a way that ensures you will be able to keep doing it for as long as you please, thereby compiling all sorts of cool memories and priceless experiences. And the way you do that is by getting smart, not by winging it. You overcome limitations not by ignoring them but by acknowledging them.

Granted, this means starting at something less than whatever is the equivalent of turning the volume knob up to 10. So be it. Everybody is in too much of a hurry these days, anyway.

Naval Aviation: Forging a Legacy of Success

Copied from: Navy Live » Blog Archive » Naval Aviation: Forging a Legacy of Success.

December 9th, 2011 posted by aguerry

The following blog post was written by Vice Adm. Allen Myers, Commander, Naval Air Forces. Holding the awesome responsibility of leading a naval aviation community that operates and maintains more than 3,700 aircraft, Myers reflects on the past year of celebrating 100 years of rich aviation history and looks forward to its promising future.

Vice Admiral MyersVice Admiral Allen Myers

As 2011 draws to a close, I am extremely proud that our centennial year has been a celebration of the innovation, courage and teamwork that are the hallmark of Naval Aviation. From the spectacular kick-off in February at Naval Air Station North Island, to major regional and local celebrations across the country and around the globe. We have honored our heritage, celebrated our success and set a positive glide slope for the future.

Last week, I had the honor of speaking at a wreath-laying ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington D.C., honoring those who wear the cloth of our nation and share a passion for flight, as well as those who have served in Naval Aviation throughout the last 100 years, whose initiative, vision and sacrifice brought us the successes we enjoy today, forging our legacy with every flight.

For the past 100 years Naval Aviation has proven beyond a doubt that what was initially thought to be a useful reconnaissance capability is now a critical element of our power projection and national security. Naval Aviation has expanded and enhanced the areas our ships can influence from simple line of sight at the crow’s nest to a radius that increased with each technological advance. From biplanes and monoplanes to turboprops and jets, Naval Aviation has been at the forefront of change and technology, extending that area of influence all the way into the bounds of space.

Each of these advances was made possible by the people who are at the heart of our success – the dedicated aviators, aircrew, engineers, and technicians – the incredible team of Navy and Marine, active, reserve and civilian personnel who ARE Naval Aviation.

They go where their nation asks and they conduct their assigned missions with professionalism and great success. They are forward, ready and flexible as they operate from the sea base. During this centennial year seven of our aircraft carriers have been deployed, from USS Enterprise (CVN 65) who celebrates 50 years of service this year, to our newest carrier on her maiden deployment, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77). Our carriers with their air wings have provided more than a third of the close air support for our service members and coalition partners on the ground in Afghanistan. They have countered piracy and provided reliable presence to support our Allies and influence regional actors, and made history for their contributions in fighting global terrorism, especially USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

They have also been a force for good providing relief and humanitarian assistance, perhaps none more noted than USSRonald Reagan (CVN 76). A first responder to the terrible trifecta of earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daichi disaster, Reagan demonstrated perfectly the immeasurable value of forward presence and agility, and provided critical relief – more than 200 tons of food, water and other supplies – to our friends in Japan through Operation Tomodachi.

Naval Aviation is a ready, forward force that operates from the sea base and from expeditionary bases around the world. Our rotary wing gives us the reach and flexibility to reclaim pirated vessels, conduct maritime intercept operations, and deliver humanitarian aid. Our helicopters in Kuwait have reliably supported the Naval Air Ambulance Detachment mission and conducted critical medical evacuation and relief for the injured. The “Scorpions” of VAQ-132 completed the first expeditionary EA-18 “Growler” deployment earlier this year that included supporting the NATO mission over Libya. At the same time, our maritime patrol community, which flies the venerable P-3 Orion, gives us the edge for sea control with their persistent eyes on station over maritime chokepoints, as well as over the sands of the Middle East.

So, where do we go from here? As Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said at the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation Gala last week, “Even as we adapt to a changing strategic environment, and as we enter a period of fiscal constraint … Naval Aviation will continue to play a vital role in the nation’s defense.”

As we look to the future, Naval Aviation remains focused on warfighting, ready always to operate forward, and we will maintain this focus as we prepare to implement our planned transitions, including the MH-60R/S, P-8 Poseidon, EA-18 Growler, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, Joint Strike Fighter and the Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier now under construction. Ford will bring online the new electro-magnetic aircraft launch system and advanced arresting gear, and by 2018, our carrier flight decks will be home to a family of unmanned systems currently in development.

Although our legacy is built on these technological advances, it has been endowed by the dedicated men and women who ARE Naval Aviation: the aviators, aircrew, engineers, and technicians – the incredible team of Navy and Marine, active, reserve and civilian personnel. They have forged a legacy of success, and I am humbled by these men and women who have a vision for the art of the possible and a drive to discover the unknown. For a century they have been the backbone of Naval Aviation’s achievements, and they will continue to set our glide slope for success in the next century and beyond.

Fight to Fly! Fly to Fight! Fight to Win!

1964-1965 Cruise book

Hey folks,

A copy of the 1964-65 Cruise book has been uploaded to the VP-4 Association Website you can view the album by visiting the Cruise Books section, or by going directly to this link:



VOW To Hire Heroes Act of 2011

Comprehensive Legislation to End Veteran Unemployment

According to the Labor Department, there are 3.4 million job openings right now in the United States. Yet, many employers are finding that workers do not have the skills or training they need to qualify for them.

There are nearly 900,000 unemployed veterans in the United States–a staggering figure. The latest Department of Labor unemployment report shows that in October 2011, the average unemployment rate among all veterans was 7.7% and 12.1% for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Equally troubling, veterans between the ages of 35 and 64, the group with the highest financial obligations and the fewest available VA education and training options, continue to make up nearly two-thirds of all unemployed veterans. Overall, nearly one in twelve of our nation’s heroes can’t find a job to support their family, don’t have an income that provides stability, and don’t have work that provides them with the confidence and pride that is so critical to their transition home.

The “VOW to Hire Heroes Act” is bipartisan, bicameral, comprehensive legislation that would lower the rate of unemployment among our nation’s veterans. This bill combines provisions of Chairman Miller’s Veterans Opportunity to Work (VOW) Act – which passed the House on October 12, 2011 – (H.R. 2433; Report #112-242), and Chairman Murray’s Hiring Heroes Act (S. 951; Report #112-36), and veterans’ tax credits into a comprehensive jobs package that will aggressively attack the unacceptably high rate of veterans’ unemployment by:

  • Expanding Education & Training: To begin moving veterans out of the unemployment lines, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 provides nearly 100,000 unemployed veterans of past eras and wars with up to 1-year of additional Montgomery GI Bill benefits to qualify for jobs in high-demand sectors, from trucking to technology. It also provides disabled veterans who have exhausted their unemployment benefits up to 1-year of additional VA Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits.
  • Improving the Transition Assistance Program (TAP): Too many service members don’t participate in TAP and enter civilian life without a basic understanding of how to compete in a tight job market. Therefore, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act will make TAP mandatory for most service members transitioning to civilian status, upgrade career counseling options, and job hunting skills, as well as ensuring the program is tailored to individuals and the 21st Century job market.
  • Facilitating Seamless Transition: Getting a civil service job can often take months which often forces a veteran to seek unemployment benefits. To shorten the time to start a federal job after discharge, this bill would allow service members to begin the federal employment process by acquiring veterans preference status prior to separation. This would facilitate a more seamless transition to civil service jobs at VA, or the many other federal agencies that would benefit from hiring our veterans.
  • Translating Military Skills and Training: This bill will also require the Department of Labor to take a hard look at how to translate military skills and training to civilian sector jobs, and will work to make it easier to get the licenses and certification our veterans need.
  • Veterans Tax Credits: The VOW to Hire Heroes Act provides tax credits for hiring veterans and disabled veterans who are out of work.

Furthermore, the VOW to Hire Heroes Act is completely paid for and does not increase the deficit.

Naval Air: Not Fading Away Without A Struggle

Naval Air: Not Fading Away Without A Struggle.

November 11, 2011: The U.S. Navy is upgrading 55 of its 157 P-3C maritime reconnaissance aircraft with new computers, communications and integrated flat-screen displays. More importantly, structural components that are weakened because of old age will be replaced or reinforced. The upgrades will enable the P-3Cs to quickly share data with other aircraft, ships and ground stations. This is considered an upgrade that will prepare crews for the transition, starting in two years, to the new P-8A.

Even as the P-8A is about to arrive, the P-3C remains in great demand. For example, during the last decade, over 60 P-3Cs have also been upgraded to turn them into land reconnaissance aircraft. The P-3Cs are particularly useful for patrolling over Iraq and Afghanistan, looking, and listening, for enemy activity.

Despite all this popularity, the elderly P-3Cs are falling apart. This year, the navy spent nearly $10 million per aircraft to refurbish the wings of 14 P-3Cs. This was part of an effort to keep enough P-3Cs flying until the new P-8A enters service. The wing fatigue is a symptom of age. The P-3 was originally designed to spend 7,500 hours in the air before retirement. But the average of the navy P-3s is 30 years, and, because of lots of refurbishment and diligent maintenance, the average air time is 16,000 hours.

Keeping the elderly P-3Cs flying has not been easy. Four years ago, the navy grounded a quarter of its P-3Cst because of age related metal fatigue in the wings. This sort of thing is common with older aircraft, especially those that spend most of their time flying over salt water. The navy believes that it would have all, or most, of the grounded aircraft back in service by now. But not all the work was done, and about a third of P-3Cs still in service are unavailable because of these age-related repairs. The aircraft have to be partially disassembled for replacement parts or reinforcing elements to be installed, and the process can take nearly a year per aircraft.

The P-3 entered service in 1962. The current version (the P-3C) has a cruise speed of 610 kilometers per hour, endurance of up to 13 hours and a crew of eleven. The 37.4 meter (116 foot) long, propeller driven aircraft has a wingspan of nearly 33 meters (100 feet). The P-3C can carry about ten tons of weapons (torpedoes, mines, or missiles like Harpoon and Maverick).

The 63 ton aircraft is based on the 1950s era Lockheed Electra airliner (which first flew in 1954). Only 170 Electras were built, plus 600 P-3s. About 40 Electras are still in service. The last P-3 was built in 1990. Likely replacements for these elderly search planes, are UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), like Global Hawk or smaller aircraft like Predator. These UAVs typically stay in the air for 24 hours, or more, at a time. What maritime reconnaissance aircraft need, more than anything else, is endurance or, as the professionals like to put it, “persistence.”

But before the UAVs take over, there is the new P-8A Poseidon. About a hundred of these aircraft will replace the P-3C. The P-8A is based on the widely used Boeing 737 airliner. Although the Boeing 737 based P-8A is a two engine jet, compared to the four engine turboprop P-3, it is a more capable plane. The P-8A has 23 percent more floor space than the P-3, and is larger (118 foot wingspan, versus 100 foot) and heavier (83 tons versus 61). Most other characteristics are the same. Both can stay in the air about ten hours per sortie. Speed is different. Cruise speed for the 737 is 910 kilometers an hour, versus 590 for the P-3. This makes it possible for the P-8A to get to a patrol area faster, which is a major advantage when chasing down subs first spotted by sonar arrays or satellites. However, the P-3 can carry more weapons (9 tons, versus 5.6.) This is less of a factor as the weapons (torpedoes, missiles, mines, sonobouys) are pound for pound, more effective today and that trend continues. Both carry the same size crew, of 10-11 pilots and equipment operators. Both aircraft carry search radar and various other sensors.

The 737 has, like the P-3, been equipped with hard points on the wings for torpedoes or missiles. The B-737 is a more modern design, and has been used successfully since the 1960s by commercial aviation. Navy aviators are confident that it will be as reliable as the P-3. The Boeing 737 first flew in 1965, and over 5,000 have been built. The P-8A will be the first 737 designed with a bomb bay and four wing racks for weapons. The P-8 costs about $275 million each.

See who you missed at the 2011 JAX Reunion

Check out the 2011 Reunion Attendee List at