The P-8 Poseidon Arrives


vp45 new patchIn June of 2013, after returning from a demanding, but very successful deployment to WestPac/Kadena, Japan, the squadron gave up their venerable P-3 Orion aircraft and commenced training with VP-30 to transition to the new P-8 Poseidon.

The Pelicans of VP-45 began their transition from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon in July of 2013. On January 30, 2014 the Pelicans successfully completed their Conventional Weapons Training Proficiency Inspection (CWTPI). Inspectors from Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) -11 Weapons School judged the proficiency of both aviation electronics technicians (AT) and aviation ordnancemen (AO) through the process of wire-checking, uploading and downloading ordnance, such as torpedoes and chaff, on the P-8A aircraft.2015 P-8A 

VP-45 obtained Safe for Flight status following an inspection on Feb. 27 – officially completing their transition to the P-8A Poseidon. In doing so, VP-45 became the Navy’s third operational P-8A squadron, following VP-16 and VP-5. 

Before they could officially complete their transition to becoming an active duty squadron again, the Pelicans had to run the gauntlet of "Safe for Flight," a grueling weeklong inspection by Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing-11. The inspectors checked everything from emergency drills to NATOPS jackets to make sure that VP-45 was up to fleet standards and could perform these drills safely. 

This was followed by an intensive year-long Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle to prepare for their inaugural deployment with the new aircraft which included joint and multinational exercises designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. and its allies. As part of the FRTP, VP-45, sent aircrews and maintainers all over the globe, including Estonia, Iceland, Hawaii, Guam, Bermuda, England, Peru and Chile supporting exercises such as BALTOPS, RIMPAC, Valiant Shield, Joint Warrior, SIFOREX and Teamwork South. 

The squaron began its 2015 seven-month deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) when the first of six P-8A Poseidon aircraft departed from NAS Jacksonville on January 27. VP-45 relieved the “Mad Foxes” of VP-5 at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan on Feb. 10 assuming maritime patrol and reconnaissance efforts in support of national interests in the 7th Fleet AOR 

The Pelicans of VP-45 completed the first detachment of their deployment to Clark Air Base, Republic of the Philippines. From Feb. 1 - 21; the Pelicans mission supported 7th Fleet objectives around the clock to strengthen maritime partnerships while conducting routine patrols across the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. The Pelicans later participated in the Australian International Airshow, March 18, 2015, which is a representation of more than 27 countries and 500 aircraft. VP-45 participated with a P-8A Poseidon aircraft flown by Combat Aircrew (CAC) 12.

On May 14, Cmdr. John Weidner relieved Cmdr. T. J. Grady as commanding officer of VP-45 at a change of command ceremony held at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, that featured an address from guest speaker Capt. Sean Liedman, commodore of Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11.

CNN’s Chief National Security Correspondent, Jim Sciutto, joined Capt. Mike Parker, commander Task Force Seven Two (CTF-72), and Combat Air Crew 11 of VP-45 on a mission in the South China Sea May 20, to report on China's rapid land reclamation activities in the contested Spratly Islands. The Pentagon’s decision to declassify aspects of the routine surveillance flight followed U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Beijing amid escalating tensions between the United States and China on the issue. Territorial disputes with five other nations in the region conflict with China’s claims — Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, and the Philippines all claim sovereignty over various parts of the Paracel and Spratly Islands. 

On July 2015, the new commander of the US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Scott Swift, joined a surveillance mission over the West Philippine Sea on Saturday as part of his four-day visit to the country. As part of his visit to the Philippines, Adm. Scott Swift took part in a seven-hour maritime surveillance mission to witness firsthand the full range of the Poseidon’s capabilities. 

The squadron returned from deployment in September 2015, after racking up 665 sorties totaling 1,644 operational flight hours, including 219 hours of submerged contact in support of commander, Task Force Seven Four. VP-45 executed 10 detachments to 10 nations spanning the Pacific Command area to include the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. 

Sailors from Patrol Squadron 45 participated in the Dubai Air Show (DAS 15) from 8-12 Nov. 2015 to strengthen military-to-military relationships and reinforce ties with allies of the region. DAS is a biennial event held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates beginning in 1986. It has now become one of the biggest aerospace events in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The Pelican’s P8-A Poseidon was just one of over 1,100 exhibitors from 61 countries, over 66,000 trade visitors, a $37.2 billion order book and 150 aircraft. 

The Pelicans of Patrol Squadron 45 conducted the first burial-at-sea in a P-8A aircraft. James Lincoln "Linc" Sparks Sr., a deceased former naval flight officer and member of VP-45 was laid to rest on January 8, 2016. The burial-at-sea ceremony is an honored tradition dating back to World War II. It’s available for active duty members of the uniformed services, retirees and honorably discharged veterans, Military Sealift Command U.S. civilian marine personnel and their family members. It helps to recognize service members and the sacrifices they have made. 


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