Royal Netherlands Navy Maritime Patrol Group (MARPAT)
"...The Dutch "Marineluchtvaartdienst" (MLD - Naval Aviation Service) first expressed her interest in the Lockheed P-3 Orion after the disestablishment of her only aircraft carrier, the HrMs Karel Doorman, in 1968. The ASW-ope- rations were carried out by land-based SP-2H Neptunes and carrier-based S-2F Trackers until then. Following the disestablishment of the Doorman the Dutch government decided to replace the Trackers by land-based ASW aircraft. The navy advised to buy the Lockheed P-3B, but the government forced a political decision and nine French-built Breguet Br1150 "Atlan- tics" were ordered and assigned to VSQ321. In Dutch service, these aircraft were known as SP-13A's. In the meantime the Neptunes remained in service with VSQ320. During 1974 the government planned to replace the Neptunes with 13 new MPA's in 1983. Changed plans almost caused the end of the Marineluchtvaartdienst in 1975, but a new government started an evaluation of available MPA's in 1977. The British Nimrod was one of the candidates, but was dropped because of its high noise-level and operational costs. The second generation Breguet Altantique NG was offered by the French, but was less popular because of two accidents with Dutch SP-13A's in 1973 and 1978. Both aircraft were lost because of steering problems. After the parliament approved the selection of the P-3C-II.V Orion, the government ordered thirteen aircraft from Lockheed, trough a USN FMS-program in December 1978. Preparing for the Orion meant a total refreshment-program for RNLNAS Valkenburg: new workshops, hangars, a mission support centre, and a new air traffic control tower were built, while the runways, taxi-tracks and plat- forms were improved. The first Dutch crew members started a P-3 conversion course with VP-30 at NAS Jacksonville in September 1981. Lockheed delivered the first MLD-Orion to the Dutch Liaison Team with VP-30 in November. After delivery of two more P-3C-II.5's, the first four Orions were ferried to RNLNAS Valkenburg on 21 July 1982 by RNLN and USN pilots. In Dutch airspace the first Orion (# 300) received an escort of the last operational SP-2H Neptune (# 204) and an SP-13A Atlantic (# 258). The Dutch Orions were almost immediately detached to foreign locations for participation in international exercises. One of the highlights was NATO exercise "Ocean Safari" in June 1983. VSQ320 detached four Orions to Lajes at the Azores (Portugal). This was also the first exercise in which Canadian CP-140 Auroras were involved. The Dutch aircraft scored the best results: 22 analysed submarine contacts of which 19 were attacked! The USN and CAF only had 11 contacts and no attacks. The next milestone was the first contact with a Soviet submarine, when a Dutch P-3 operated from NAS Keflavik, Iceland. The 13th and final Dutch P-3 was delivered in September 1984. During this year VSQ320 got the operational status with the Orion. Technical problems with the steering system of the remaining six Atlantics (a third one was lost in 1981) caused the early retirement of the type from MLD-service by the end of 1984. The Atlantics were sold to the French Navy and VSQ321 converted to the P-3. The squadron borrowed aircraft from VSQ320. On 18 October 1985 one of the Dutch Orions (# 312) left Valkenburg to be permanently detached to NAS Keflavik (Iceland). Until today one Dutch Orion remains at Kef. The Dutch navy is participating in USN operations from this northern base. The main mission for the Dutch P-3s used to be ASW of course. But the air- craft were also used for several other kinds of operations. Twice a year an Orion acts as a communications- and SAR-platform for RNLAF F-16s enroute to low-flying exercises in Goose Bay (Canada). The P-3C-II.V was selected for the "Open Skies" project during 1990. The Dutch government intended to use the aircraft to conduct verification flights over Poland. One of the Orions was fitted with a Philips/Usfa "Thermal Imaging System" (the RNLN P-3s do not have IRDS) and evaluated for the "Open Skies" mission. However, The Netherlands teamed up with Belgium and it was decided to use Belgian C-130s instead of Dutch P-3s for this project. During the Gulf War P-3 # 306 was fitted with eight stretchers and eight passenger seats, to evacuate casualties from the area if necessary. A second aircraft would have been available within 24 hours. Fortunately the P-3 ambulances have not been necessary. Several Dutch P-3s have flown to the Gulf area to provide mail, spare parts and supplies to the Dutch frigates in the Gulf and the Dutch military hospital situated in Jebel Ali in the United Arab Emirates. Two Dutch Orions took up residence at NAS Sigonella (Italy) to take over a part of the USN responsibilities for the Mediterranean area as long as USN P-3s were involved directly in the Gulf War. When the Cold War ended, the P-3s became available for new missions. Since 1992 Dutch Orions are conducting anti-narcotics operations over the Caribbean out of Hato airfield on Curacao (one of the Dutch Antilles islands). Originally known as "Operation PC3" (for Command, Control and Communications) the anti-narcotics mission is now called "Operation Fair Trade" and is conducted in close co-operation with the USN/USCG Task Force 4 and the Dutch Air Force 336 Sqn, which operates the Fokker F-27MPA Maritime. Another new kind of mission are the fishery-, pollution- and environmental patrol missions on behalf of the Dutch Coast Guard. These missions are frequently flown over the Dutch territorial part of the North Sea. Police officers join the MLD-crews on these flights. Since July 1992 Orions have been permanently detached to NAS Sigonella. They are the Dutch contribution to the multi-national "Operation Sharp Guard". They are patrolling the Adriatic Sea to maintain the UN embargo against former Yugoslavian states. "Sharp Guard" was the first occasion in which Dutch P-3s were ever operating with "live torpedoes" in their weapons bay. A similar mission was flown over the area around Haiti in support of "Operation Support Democracy". The Dutch contribution for this operation was the frigate HrMs Karel Doorman. A Dutch P-3 with VSQ320 crew 17 assisted with three operational flights. 34 ships were checked by the aircraft. Original plans called for a P-3 "Capability Upkeep Program" (CUP-Orion) in the period 1997-2003. 209,400,000 Dutch Guilders were reserved for this program that should have involved the following items: replacement of the ASQ-114 central computer by the Paramax ASQ-212, installation of TI APS-137 ISAR, ALR-66 ESM and replacement of the ARR-72 acoustic processor by the CDC UYS-503. Other plans included universal display and control stations. Currently the Dutch Ministry of Defense reviews the program..."
Return to TOP of page!
Motto is "Nulli Secundus - Second to None"
"...A small correction on the page displaying the Royal Netherlands Navy's Vliegtuig Squadron 321 (VSQ-321) patch. The motto is "Nulli Secundus" - "Second to None". I have such a patch sewed on a flight jacket stored away, having been the first OinC of a USN Personnel Exchange Program Det at Valkenburg from 1974 to 1977. I served as "Boot Commandant" of Crew Charlie, leaving Holland with 1,200 hours at the controls of a Breguet Atlantic. My first tour was VP-2. I was Communications Officer when the squadron was decommissioned in 1969. Ironically, the motto of that squadron was also "Second to None"..." Contributed by Leigh L. Callaway email@example.com [17OCT98]
Return to TOP of page!
VSQ-321 Patch Contributed by Marco P.J. Borst firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://p3orion.nl/index.html [15SEP98]
"...Squadron 321 was formed on 11 June 1940 at Pembroke Dock in England. With its Anson aircraft it conducted maritime patrol missions for three months until it was disbanded in January 1941. A year later the squadron was re-established with PBY-5 Catalina's at China Bay, Ceylon. In December 1944 VSQ321 received its first Liberator bombers. Aircraft of both types left Ceylon for a detachment on the Cocos Islands. The leased Liberators were withdrawn and 321 became an independent Dutch squadron on 19 December 1945. VSQ321 operated C-47 Dakotas and Catalina's during those days. Following Indonesia's independence VSQ321 moved to Biak Air Base on Dutch New Guinea. The Catalina amphibians were replaced by the larger PBM-5A Mariner in 1955. Four of these seaplanes crashed fatally before the type's premature retirement which brought the squadron to minimum strength. Two extra Dakota's were delivered in 1960 in order to maintain a skeleton service. At last new aircraft for VSQ321 arrived in 1962 when twelve P2V-7 Neptunes landed at Biak. When the Dutch forces were pulled out of New Guinea on 28 December 1962, VSQ321 was disestablished. It's aircraft were taken over by VSQ320 at RNLNAS Valkenburg in The Netherlands. Vliegtuigsquadron 321 was re-established in 1969 when the Royal Netherlands Navy took delivery of its first Breguet SP-13A Atlantic. By February 1972 all nine Atlantics were in service. Unfortunately three fatal accidents led to the type's retirement at the end of 1984. VSQ321 transitioned to the P-3 Orion but did not receive any aircraft of its own. Until 1989 it borrowed Orions from VSQ320 and they make use of the MARPAT Group Orions together with VSQ320 eversince. When the RNLN's training squadron (VSQ2) de-activated on 1 October 1993, VSQ321 lost her operational status and took over all responsibilities for the training of P-3 crews..."
"Royal Netherlands Navy Maritime Patrol Group Summary Page"