Tag Archives: MPA

Last Cold Warrior Deploying to WESTPAC


From VP-62 Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) — As Patrol Squadron Six Two (VP-62) begins the first ever mobilization of a Reserve P-3 squadron, one of the Reservists heading to Japan is also one of the last Cold War anti-submarine warfare operators still serving in the Navy.

Before getting on the plane, Master Chief Naval Aircrewman (NAC/AW) Spence Cunningham took a moment to look back on his 32 years of Naval Aviation experience.

I joined the Navy via the Delayed Entry Program in February 1981 and left for Boot Camp in Orlando in August of 1981. I completed the Anti-Submarine Warfare Operator pipeline (Non-Acoustic) in August 1982 and received orders to the Pelicans of VP-45. I completed three deployments between 1982 and 1986. I was screened and selected for instructor duty at VP-30, where I taught the Update 2, 2.5 and 3 versions of the Orion.

I completed the shore tour at VP-30 and an opportunity to work on the P-7 program was a good one, so I separated in August of 1990 and received orders to the Broadarrows of VP-62. I left active duty as an AW1. When I joined the squadron, the annual training periods consisted of the squadron setting up shop in Bermuda and we covered that ASW sector until all the Reservists completed their two-week requirements. The squadron was the last Reserve VP squadron to operate fully out of NAS Bermuda in 1991. After that, operations moved to a detachment form of annual training, where crew and maintenance formed small units and went forward to various sites like Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico; Sigonella, Sicily; Manta, Ecuador; Keflavik, Iceland and Comolapa, El Salvador, to name a few.

While I have been attached to VP-62, I have held many positions from NATOPS ‘Bluecard’ instructor to detachment CPO (chief petty officer) and up to Command Master Chief. All the while, maintaining combat aircrew qualifications to answer the call if needed.

I reached the 30-year high year tenure mark for Master Chief in February 2011, and I decided to transfer to the Volunteer Training Unit versus retirement. I decided to continue to serve, because I love what I do in the P-3 and I want to give the benefit of my experience to those junior operators that are the future of maritime patrol.

I have been very fortunate that the civilian positions I have held had a direct relationship to my Navy Reserve job. I have held positions with several local Jacksonville defense contractors that have supported the training efforts of the P-3 force that have included curriculum development, specifically the Block Mod Update and ASUW Improvement Programs for the P-3. I was also an initial member of, and later managed the Revision and Maintenance effort for the P-3 Fleet Replacement Squadron, VP-30.

Presently, I am the lead instructor for the Acoustic Track Contract Instructor cadre at VP-30. I lead ten civilian instructors in executing the initial P-3C Acoustic Operator curriculum for acoustic AWO trainees. We are responsible for completing all ground phase requirements that include classroom instruction, aircraft demonstrations, part-task trainer periods and Tactical Operational Readiness Trainers (TORT) which are full tactical crew scenarios.

I have been a sensor operator from the beginning. Actually, I completed my pipeline training as a SS-3 operator, but the needs of my first squadron dictated (by my Shop Chief) my On-The-Job (OJT) conversion to operating the acoustic sensor. I got a two-week course on acoustic analysis and departed on my first deployment to Sigonella, Sicily. I am the last AW to earn a 7821 NEC by OJT before the instruction changed that required completion of a formal curriculum to earn NECs.

All of my efforts overseas have had their moments. My first deployment had an erupting Mt. Etna that covered NAS Sig in a 1-inch layer of ash. That affected the Engine Driven Compressors (air conditioning) on the aircraft which meant many a flight was conducted in a minimalist fashion when it came to being comfortable.

That same deployment, Mummar Qadaffi set his line of death and we were flying armed patrols in support of Sixth Fleet carriers crossing the line. The Marines were car-bombed in Lebanon during that deployment, and once again we were flying armed patrols. VP-45 flew on multiple Soviet submarines from Victors and Charlies, to Tangos and Foxtrots. The squadron set a record for the most submerged contact time to date during that 1983 deployment.

My second deployment was my first as a newly minted Sensor One. I cut my chops on the challenging Soviet Echo II that entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Straits of Gibraltar. That was a first class ASW challenge considering the sensors we were using back then. I was successful by turning over hot contact to the following crew, but to say I was nervous was an understatement.

My appreciation for the job was not fully realized until my third deployment to the island of Bermuda. The Soviets consistently deployed the “Yankee” class submarines between Bermuda and the east coast of the United States. Our job was to stay “on-top” around the clock while they were present. One submarine decided to test the theory by straying further west. We were on-top and were given authorization to let them know we were there. We did this by going active and after a few hours of relentless pinging, the Yankee moved back. During debrief, the crew was told that an entire B-52 wing had moved inland during that excursion. I was stunned at the information. Here it was that a lowly Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class’s efforts in running his sensor was standing between a Yankee and its missiles and the East Coast. Doing this job was just “fun” up until then. It still is, but I never considered the broader implications of what I do on the aircraft and I have never forgotten that since.

This is my first mobilization as a Reservist. I have been in a hardware unit the entire time. Since I was tied to Combat Aircrew Readiness, performing an Individual Augmentee position was possible, but not encouraged given the limited number of Sensor One operators VP-62 has.

My expectations on this deployment are what any acoustic operator worth his or her salt should be, tracking submarines. Being primarily an Atlantic Fleet operator, I look forward to working in the western Pacific against some very challenging submarines found in that area of the world. I relish the challenge and look forward to sharing my experience with some young fleet operators out there, not to mention getting to experience liberty in the exotic countries of the Western Pacific.

I am the last of the Cold Warriors that are still actively flying in the P-3. I have acoustic sensor experience that runs the gamut from AN/AQA-7 paper grams to the current AN-USQ-78B Acoustic Processor Technical Refresh (APTR). I have hours upon hours of on-top time of a multitude of submarines in many of the world’s oceans. This is what I have spent the last 30 years of my life doing and I cannot think of any other job I’d rather perform. I have certainly had an exceptional run and I have to give a lion share of credit to the Reserves to enable me to enjoy the best of both my worlds. It is time for me to hang my flight suit up after this deployment and I will miss the flying. But most of all I will miss those Sailors in VP-62. I am grateful to serve among such a group of dedicated professionals. I am humbled and appreciative of the privilege.

For more news from Patrol Squadron 62, and the WESTPAC deployment visit www.navy.mil/local/vp62/.

NAS Jax hosts MPRF Reunion/Symposium | jacksonville.com

via NAS Jax hosts MPRF Reunion/Symposium | jacksonville.com.

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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