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Circa 1942 - 2005

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-45 History..." WebSite: VP-45 Official WebSite: http://www.vp45.navy.mil/ [17JAN2008]

VP-45 History

The Patrol Squadron 45 (VP-45) Pelicans of NAS Jacksonville, Florida were initially commissioned as Patrol Squadron 205 (VP-205) on 1 November 1942, at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. Through the 1940’s the squadron was very active, flying PBM Mariners in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres. Spanning the entire globe, the Pelicans changed homeports 12 times in just over three years to such places as Cuba, Hawaii, Okinawa, and Japan. Finally, while homeported in NAS Bermuda in September of 1948, they were designated as VP-45. In the 1950’s, VP-45 transitioned to the Martin P-5M Marlin while based at NS Coco Solo, Panama.

Homeported in NAS Bermuda from 1956-63, the squadron assumed duties as the NAS Bermuda Recovery Unit for the Mercury Space Program. VP-45 deployed to Cuba in 1962 for operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and as a result received the Battle “E” and CNO Safety Award for outstanding performance.

The Pelicans began transitioning to the P-3A Orion aircraft in September 1963. The squadron became part of Fleet Air Wing ELEVEN in 1964, bringing with them the first P-3 aircraft to NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Earning a second Battle “E” and CNO Safety Award, the Pelicans completed the transition to the P-3A in less than eight months. Deployed to NAS Adak, Alaska in 1965, the squadron made history as the first Atlantic VP squadron to see action in Southeast Asia.

In May of 1968, VP-45 responded in less than two hours to the tragic loss of the nuclear submarine USS SCORPION, flying extensive search and rescue missions from NAS Bermuda and NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal. Later in the year, the squadron departed Jacksonville for another six-month deployment in support of combat operations in Southeast Asia, operating from bases at NS Sangley Point, Philippines and U-Tapao Royal Thailand Air Force Base, Thailand.

The squadron began its transition to the upgraded P-3C Orion in 1972. During their five-month deployment to NAS Sigonella, Sicily in 1973, the Pelicans were the first squadron to fly the P-3C in the Mediterranean and were awarded the Captain Arnold J. Isbell Trophy for excellence in anti-submarine warfare (ASW). During deployments to Keflavik, Iceland in 1974 and NAS Sigonella, Sicily in 1975, the Pelicans conducted ASW operations and surface surveillance while participating in several NATO and SIXTH Fleet exercises. As a result, the squadron was awarded the first of their five SIXTH Fleet “Hook ‘em” Awards for ASW excellence.

In September of 1984, VP-45 began a split deployment to NS Rota, Spain, and NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal. During the five months that followed, VP-45 was awarded their fourth “Hook ‘em” award and third Battle “E” for overall operational excellence. The Pelicans deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily in July 1987, flying over 4,500 hours of high tempo operations in direct support of the SIXTH Fleet. The Pelicans then returned home to Jacksonville where they became the first active duty patrol squadron to retrofit the P-3C baseline aircraft with the advanced Update III package.

In 1992, VP-45 embarked upon a split deployment between Keflavik and Jacksonville, aggressively participating in carrier battle group operations and coordinated shallow water ASW with several NATO countries. During the deployment, the squadron surpassed 155,000 hours of mishap-free flying and achieved a phenomenal 99 percent sortie completion rate. Another multi-site deployment followed in 1993, with the aircrews showing their versatility by participating in both operations DESERT STORM and SHARP GUARD. The Pelicans received the Golden Wrench Award for outstanding maintenance and the Captain Arnold J. Isbell trophy for ASW excellence.

The Pelicans deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily in 1996 and again set new standards for maritime patrol aviation by participating in 18 exercises and detaching to five locations throughout Europe and the Middle East. The squadron demonstrated the multi-mission capability of the P-3C, flying both tactical reconnaissance missions overland Bosnia and blockade support missions in operation SHARP GUARD.

Returning to NAS Sigonella, Sicily in 1997, the Pelicans flew over 5000 hours with a 98 percent sortie completion rate. The sorties flown supported 18 detachments from 10 different locations, including three weeks of SAR contingency operations out of Namibia. The Pelicans were the first VP squadron to bring the Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM) to the Med, and fired the first Maverick Missile there since 1994. The squadron continued to set high standards for on-station presence and performance, both over land in operation DELIBERATE GUARD and in a remarkable 28 exercises in support of the SIXTH Fleet. For outstanding performance throughout the year, the VP-45 Maintenance Department received the Golden Wrench Award for 1998.

Returning home to Jacksonville in August, the squadron began another rigorous Inter-deployment Training Cycle (IDTC) which included transitioning to the latest P-3 upgrade, the Aircraft Improvement Program (AIP) modification. With the transition complete in August 2000, VP-45 took AIP back on deployment to Sigonella, Sicily. Highlighted by 24x7 armed surface combat air patrol, VP-45's deployment encompassed over 84 armed missions in support of SIXTH Fleet contingency operations. The Pelicans provided superior support throughout the Mediterranean in Anti-submarine/Surface Warfare, Overland Reconnaissance, and Strike missions. The squadron was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for their success while deployed. They also earned the 2000 Golden Wrench Award, Captain Arnold J. Isbell Trophy and the Southeast Region Navy Community Service Award for the second consecutive year.

After the terrorist attacks in September 2001, VP-45 flew long range reconnaissance missions along the U.S. East Coast in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. The Pelicans were awarded the Arleigh Burke Trophy and the CNO Personal Excellence Partnership Award for 2001. The squadron departed for a split site Puerto Rico/Keflavik deployment in February 2002 and operated from multiple detachment locations spanning three continents. During this deployment the squadron was involved in the largest maritime drug interdiction in SOUTHCOM history, totaling more than $12.4 billion. The Pelicans received the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award and the Captain Arnold J. Isbell trophy in 2002.

Returning from deployment, the Pelicans qualified 12 aircrews in an unprecedented three months ahead of schedule. By expeditiously certifying aircrews during the Inter-deployment Training Cycle, VP-45 had the flexibility to fully support National Training Continuum and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Four Pelican aircrews were detached prior to and during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM receiving 10 Navy Commendation Medals and 14 Navy Achievement Medals for exceptional skill and courage. In February 2004, the Pelicans returned home from NAS Sigonella, Sicily completing a challenging Mediterranean deployment operating from eight different countries directly supporting the Global War on Terrorism. The squadron’s most recent accolades include the Command Retention Excellence Award, a second consecutive CNO safety award, and a second consecutive CPRW-11 nomination for Golden Wrench Award.

In June 2005, the squadron completed its rigorous Inter-deployment Readiness Cycle. Fully qualified and eager to deploy, VP-45 set a new precedent as the first East coast VP squadron to deploy to FIFTH and SEVENTH Fleets since the Vietnam Era. Operating out of sixteen countries throughout the deployment, the Pelicans flew over 3800 hours in direct support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM and were the first to establish a detachment in Iraq while capturing the battlespace in real time for the troops on the ground and theater Commanders. Additionally, VP-45 established a new Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance hub at Al Udied Air Base, Qatar. For their outstanding performance the Pelicans were awarded the 2005 Battle “E” and Arliegh Burke Award.

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