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Newsletter VP-11 Neptune Association Newsletter

JULY 2008 Newsletter

    Despite the efforts of President J.J. Quinn and Carl Hinger to plan and make tentative arrangements for the proposed Washington, D.C. reunion, it became evident that there was insufficient interest in having our 2009 reunion in the nation's capital. Based on the responses to an e-mail survey of the membership, it was clear that we could not muster the minimum number of members interested in attending to enable us to make reservations at the selected reunion hotel. For those who were looking forward to visiting the D.C. area and its many attractions, this decision may come as a disappointment. A vote of thanks is in order to JJ and Carl for their time and effort in researching the proposed reunion.

    A follow-up e-mail survey of members for the purpose of selecting an alternate reunion site revealed interest primarily in the Brunswick area with Pensacola running a close second. Thus, the 2009 reunion will be held in the Brunswick, Maine area. A committee under the direction of President J.J. Quinn has begun exploring plans for the reunion. A tentative decision to hold the reunion in September 2009 has been proposed. Freeport, Maine is a likely location for our hotel headquarters offering numerous facilities in addition to the well known shopping opportunities. With ample time to plan reunion activities, we can expect another entertaining and memorable gathering. Suggestions and volunteers are, as always, welcome.
    (Although many of you have already read the following via e-mail, the subject is deemed worthy of providing the information to all our VP-11 alumni) ROR

    The following is a recap of information written by John Larson, PAO of the VP-4 Veterans Association. It is provided with his permission.

    Interview with RADM Prindle

    RADM Prindle is the Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Group based at Norfolk Va. There are currently 12 active Maritime Patrol Squadrons (VP), 2 Special Projects squadrons (VPU), 2 Reserve VP squadrons, and 2 Fleet Air Reconnaissance (VQ) squadrons. Force disposition has 3 VP squadrons based at each of the following locations: NAS Brunswick, Maine, NAS Jacksonville, Florida, NAS Whidbey Island, Washington and MCBH Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Both VQ squadrons are based at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.

    The reserve squadrons are at NAS Jacksonville, Florida and NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. The special projects are based at NAS Brunswick, Maine and Kaneohe. Due to BRAC and the base closer of NAS Brunswick, Maine, the squadrons (4) at NAS Brunswick, Maine will relocate to NAS Jacksonville, Florida between 2009-2010.

    There are approximately 8000 active duty MPR personnel worldwide. Squadrons are comprised of about 350 personnel. About 36 % (130 personnel) are aircrew while the majority of the personnel provide maintenance and administrative support. Fleet Air Recon (VQ) squadrons have 39 %( 175) aircrew from a total of 450 in the squadron. VQ has to support frequent detachments and sustained airborne presence worldwide with fewer highly specialized aircraft.

    Squadron maintenance personnel have been shifting to the CPRW Consolidated Maintenance Organization (CMO). CMO is a community initiative to standardize Wing maintenance, streamline Isochronal Scheduled Inspection System (ISIS) duration and reduce maintenance personnel requirements while still meeting training, readiness and deployment obligations.

    Currently the CMO shift is completed within CPRW-2 and CPRW-11, while still ongoing with CPRW-10. Once completed, each CMO will have absorbed approximately 600-900 personnel as a formal shore command within each Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing. Proportionate squadron manning will fall to approximately 150-200 officers, aircrew and admin support personnel.

    Deployed squadrons are being supported globally by CMO through Maintenance Support Teams (MST) comprised of a complete complement of P-3C aviation maintenance artisans.

    The MPR force is operationally supported by forward Task Force staffs in SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, AFRICOM, CENTCOM, and PACOM. These staffs provide a crucial role in MPR operational performance. They are responsible for all operational and expeditionary missions in their respective theaters while providing command and control, maintenance, logistics, exercise, force protection and tactical support. They are the theater experts for the MPR force.

    The MPR force primary mission include ASW, Anti-Surface warfare (AsuW), Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR), Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO), CSG/ESG fleet support, Mine warfare (MIW), and counter drug/detection and monitoring operations. For operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom missions are flown from various bases in the NAVCENT AOR.

    The MPR force is currently following a 24 month deployment cycle comprised of an 18 month Inter-deployment Readiness Cycle (IDRC) and six month forward deployment. Squadrons with the last 6 months of that IDRC are considered "surge ready" as part of the Navy's Fleet Response Plan (FRP). Each squadron will deploy with 12 fully operational combat aircrews well skilled in every primary mission area.

    The average age of the current P-3C is 28 years. Although the first P-3 entered service on 13 August 1962, the oldest aircraft flown today is 38.5 years old. The MPR community is facing a temporary reduction in total force availability due to a proactive grounding or Red Stripe, of 39 aircraft within the MPR fleet. This was a safety measure to address engineering concerns from the potential weakness in the lower aft section of the wing. Fleet sustainment programs are being expanded to address the recent grounding action, allowing current aircraft to operate until being replaced by the P-8A Poseidon which will commence Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2013 with approximately 33 P-8A aircraft. The P3C is currently scheduled to be retired in 2019.

    The biggest challenge is balancing Man/Train/Equip and A/C Sustainment vs. Force transition to P8/BAMS. There must always be balance between our efforts to ensure the P-3 force is trained and ready to execute today's missions and contingencies while ensuring that all necessary work is being done to make certain there is a smooth transition to the future P-8 and BAMS UAS force. This balance happens on a daily basis at the squadron, wing and force level. As the first P-8 started production last week, it is a reminder that we must focus a good deal of effort to ensure future aircrews are prepared to operate the new aircraft with its suite of mission systems to accomplish future Naval and Joint missions.

    The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance Unmanned Aircraft System (BAMS UAS) will be an integrated system of systems and a force multiplier for the Joint Force and Fleet Commander, enhancing situational awareness of the battle space and shortening the sensor-to-sensor kill chain by providing a multi-sensor, persistent maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

    BAMS UAS will provide surveillance when no other Naval forces are present, support operations in the littorals to include support for Marine Expeditionary Units conducting operations from Expeditionary Strike Groups, and respond to theater level operational or national strategic tasking. BAMS UAS will deliver to the war fighter an unprecedented capability to maintain persistent ISR virtually anywhere in the world.

    The BAMS concept of ops is to utilize MPR aircrew, mission commanders, and operators who are familiar with the BAM missions.

    They will be trained to either fly the platform and/or supervise the conduct of the mission. The P-8A squadrons will augment BAMS personnel in order to leverage their experience and familiarity in specific areas of responsibility.

    The Papa Three Today

    After beginning with the P-3A the USN added more powerful engines and it became the P-3B. Later, computer based electronics systems were added and the designation became the P-3C. Subsequent versions were numbers or given names. Present versions of the P-3C included a handful of Update II.5s used mostly for pilot training, the Update III, the BMUP (Block Modifications Upgrade), the CDU (Counter-Drug Upgrade), and the AIP (Antisurface Warfare Improvement Program) variants. The BMUP added a digital flight instrumentation system, better scopes, upgraded the CIP (Communications Improvement Program) system, and incorporated newer mission computers.

    The CDU version flies missions in coordination with the U.S. Customs Service and the USGC. It has an air-to-air APG-66 fire control radar and a VX-1 Cluster Ranger EOS (Electro-Optical System). Externally it looks the same as a standard Update III bird.

    The AIP features improved communication reception and an ESM suite plus enhancements in ASUW (Anti-Surface Warfare), Over the Horizon Targeting and Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence (OTH-T). It also has ISAR (Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar). It has ESM receiving sensors in the nose and tail and additional SATCOM antennas on the aft top and sides. The AIP has been the version of choice during operations in the Middle East.

    A recent change with the P-3C community involved transferring ownership of all squadron aircraft to their respective CPRW (Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing) that now overseas the Consolidated Maintenance Organization (CMO). Thus, squadrons now "borrow" planes from the wing pool/fleet for their missions. As a result, unique squadron markings such as tail codes and unit emblems are being removed. Pooling the Orions consolidates Sailor Maintenance into a single entity, enhances parts availability and labor process in preparation for the contract maintenance that will likely occur when the MMA (Maritime Multi-Mission Aircraft) P-8A arrives.

    As an example, CPRW-10 is the P-3 wing at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington and the squadrons are: VP-1, VP-40, VP-46, VP-69 and VQ-1 and VQ-2. The other wings are: CPRW-2 at Kaneohe, CPRW-11 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida and CPRW-5 at NAS Brunswick, Maine.

    Some of the ordinance that is now carried on the P-3C, are bombs: 500-lbs Mk 82, 1000-Lbs Mk 83m, 2000-lbs Mk84. Mk 20 Rockeyes, AGM-84 Harpoons, AGM-84M SLAM and SLAM ER (Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response). AGM-65F Mavericks, Mk 46 and Mk50 torpedoes. The mines are: Mk62 1000-lbs and 2000-lbs Mk 65 destructor mines. Also carried are depth bombs, flare dispensers and on rare occasions, rocket pods and AIM 9 sidewinders. The Orion can carry up to 20,000 lbs of total ordnance.

    There are only 11 crewmembers now. The full mission crew is: 3 pilots, 2 fight engineers, NFO TACCO, the NAV/Com, 3 AW's (two acoustic operators, 1 radar operator/EW), and the IFT. The in-flight ord position has been done away with. The IFT (in-flight Tech) now does the ordnance man duties.

    The skipper of VP-46 made the following comments.

    In recent times the P-3C has adopted a more expeditionary role. We have taken our aging platform that has a great sensor suite and very well-trained operators, and have adapted well to the overland ISR role. We have acclimated to the overland role better than expected, supporting coalition forces in contract with enemy troops on the ground in Iraq, and there is new equipment coming to our community that will be integrated into the Poseidon.

    With CMO being implemented now and CLS (Consolidated Logistical Support) coming with the future delivery of the P-8, we are still taking care of our enlisted Sailors. It has some negative impact on our junior officers since they often had maintenance-related responsibilities and now most report to and work in the WDD (Warfare Development Department) vice squadron maintenance. The lost contact time with wrench turning Sailors interacting with junior officers on the deck plates is difficult to quantify but the negative effects may manifest themselves over time.

    WDD concentrates on our war fighting roots-tactics weaponry, and aircraft employment. CMO does present challenges for squadrons since it changes how we did business previously from a maintenance standpoint. It's a paradigm shift and we will adapt again, like we have to the nuances of change before.

    The P-3 airframe is rapidly aging, and we are seeing more compound malfunctions and physically manifested structural fatigue issue than ever. The question is how common-place is that going to be, before we get the new aircraft. Since we have the new P-8A platform coming soon, that give the younger personnel within the squadron something to look forward to down the road.

    Maintenance man hours per flight hour plague us right now, particularly with power plants, propellers and airframes. The P-8 will have engines that can run several hundred hrs before we have to change the oil, and many thousands of hours before an engine change. The 737 is a proven design, operating commercially in the worldwide markets.

    I hope you enjoyed reading about the present day VP Navy and what the future holds for the P-8. Things have really changed over the years for us since we left the fleet.

    John Larson
    VP-4 Assn PAO
    Part 8. Charles Clark Jr. from Aviation - History Magazine

    Though searching for submarines and surface warships was the primary goal, most of our time on patrol involved surveillance of commercial shipping. This involved photographing each ship; determining its name; plotting its position, course and speed; and noting significant information about any visible cargo and whether it was loaded or in ballast.

    In order to accomplish all that, the pilot would descend to about 200 feet above the water, 1,000 feet abeam of the ship, and fly a course parallel to the ship's. Each crew member had an assigned task during ship rigging. We reported on specific characteristics of each vessel such as the shape of the bow and stern; the profile of the hull; the position of the major structures above the deck line; the sequence of masts, funnels and cranes; and any identifying markings on the main funnel or smokestack. Put together, all those characteristics identified a specific ship. It was precise and often dangerous work, depending on the weather conditions and the state of the sea. Ideally, we could accomplish the job in one pass, and after that the pilot would climb back up to search altitude, usually 1,500 feet-and continue on course. The sensor operators would return to their work stations and get back to monitoring their equipment.

    (Next time read about an encounter with MIG-15s off the Soviet Siberian coast)
    Excerpts from the letter received by Abner Oakes on behalf of the VP-11 Neptune Association, Sept. 27, 2007

    Dear Commander Oakes:

    On behalf of the American Council on Education (ACE), I would like to acknowledge receipt of your contribution in the amount of $200.00 from your Naval Air Group, VP-11 Neptune Association, in support of our Severely Injured Veterans' Initiative. Your contribution to this initiative will affect the scope of our program and the number of returning veterans who will be served by it.

    ACE is deeply grateful for your very generous support in helping us address the needs of severely injured veterans who must make the difficult transition from service in the field of battle to participation in postsecondary education. We look forward to keeping you fully informed of our progress as we help these heroes go to college.

    Susan Porter Robinson
    Vice President, Lifelong Learning
    Summary of the Sept. 2007 notice to volunteers from Linda Stowers of ACE.

    The project has grown in both participants and individuals.. volunteering to assist injured soldiers as they prepare their futures.

    We currently have 164 participants working with advisors and meeting with service members early in their recovery process to coordinate in selecting an institution and planning their transition in furtherance of their college education. Many have a definite plan in mind while others have not a clue as how to proceed.

    While severely injured service members will encounter many of the obstacles faced by most first-year students, there are other challenges that go beyond physical limitations. Returning veterans are often reluctant to ask for help in terms of academics or in orientation to campus culture. The project has found that a mentor/sponsor who invests the time necessary in developing a relationship with the veteran proves to be an invaluable source of information, encouragement and advocacy.

    Thanks to all those who respond when assistance is called for.
    (This article begins a series in which I hope to present a fairly detailed and accurate history of VP-11. The information comes from various sources which I have accepted as accurate, but in many cases I have not been able to verify. Thus, we shall call it an unofficial history. ROR)

    VP-11 in the Pre-World War II Era

    Patrol Squadron Eleven (VP-11F) was commissioned at NAS North Island, San Diego, California on July 1, 1936. Commander Laverne A. Pope assumed command, and with his Executive Officer, Cdr. A. Mills and twenty enlisted personnel, transferred from the USS Wright, they formed the nucleus of the new seaplane squadron. Assigned to the squadron were three patrol type seaplanes for the purpose of training flight and maintenance personnel. These aircraft designated; Hall PH, Consolidated P2Y and the Martin PM-1 were to be replaced by a complement of 12 new Consolidated PBY-1, the Catalina, later in 1936. Although there is some evidence linking the history of VP-11 to earlier squadrons such as VT-19 and VY-6D14, this commissioning appears to be the first reference to a squadron carrying the designation of VP-11.

    After the initial training phase, including the transition to the PBY-1 seaplanes, the flight crews of VP-11F flew their 12 planes on April 12/13, 1937 to NAS Ford Island in the Territory of Hawaii. The ground support personnel joined the flight crews sometime later after being transported aboard the USS Langley and the USS Wright (AV-1). With the USS Langley (AV-3), the USS Wright (AV-1) and the USS Pelican supporting the squadron as tenders, VP-11F participated in Fleet Problem 17 in the Midway Is. and French Frigate Shoals areas. Upon completion of this fleet exercise, the twelve squadron aircraft were turned over to VP-8F stationed at Ford Is. The entire VP-11F squadron complement then sailed back to San Diego aboard the USS Langley (AV-3) and USS Wright (AV-1) arriving in June 1937.

    Back at their homeport of San Diego, VP-11F received 12 new PBY-2 aircraft and resumed their training phase. In June 1937, VP-11F was designated the host squadron of a newly formed radio operators school to assist in providing training for airborne radio operators assigned to Patrol Wing One squadrons. The squadron continued to operate from North Island throughout 1937, and in February 1938 they were again tasked to participate in a fleet exercise.

    Fleet Problem 18 commenced on 3 February, and in the opening stages of this exercise tragedy struck the squadron when two squadron PBY-2 aircraft collided off the southern California coast resulting in the loss of eleven of the fourteen crewmembers. VP-11F continued to operate from North Island under the operational control of Patrol Wing One until the commencement of Fleet Problem 19 on June 26, 1938. A notable event during this period occurred when aircraft number 11 crash-landed at sea south of Point Loma sustaining minimum damage and no serious injuries to the crew. The plane was towed back to NAS North Island, San Diego, California and returned to service after extensive repairs.

    In January 1939, VP-11 was re-assigned to Patrol Wing Five, and under the newly adopted scheme of designating squadrons based on the Wing assignment, the unit designation changed to VP-54 only to be re-designated in April of 1941 as VP-51. During this period numerous realignments and changes in unit designations took place. In attempting to follow a unit's lineage throughout this period, it helps to keep in mind that the squadron designation was based on the wing - squadron relationship, thus VP-11 would indicate squadron number one under the operational control of Patrol Wing One. In July 1939, VP-7 became VP-11, which was re-designated as VP-21 by the end of 1940, and remained such throughout WWII. Early in 1941, another VP-11 squadron came into existence when VP-53 was transferred to PAT WING ONE with the unit assuming the VP-11 designation. This revival was short lived as the squadron was reassigned to PAT WING SEVEN with an associated re-designation as VP-73 a designation in retained to the end of the war.

    In tracing the lineage throughout WWII of the squadron known as VP-11, we begin with a unit designated as VP-6 formed under the operational control of Patrol Wing Two on 1 October 1937. Under the July 1939 revised designation scheme, this unit became VP-23 (Wing Two / Squadron Three) before it was transferred to Patrol Wing One and on 1 July 1941 officially adopted the VP-11 designation. Thankfully, VP-11 held this designation into WWII, thus we have some continuity to the squadron's history. At the time of its designation as VP-11 in 1941, the Pegasus insignia was already an established symbol of this unit reportedly dating back to its days as VP-6B in 1933.

    (Next time VP-11 as WW II begins)

"VP-11 Neptune Association"