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HistoryVP-47 HistoryHistory

Circa 1999

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Yanking And Banking - Story and photos by PH1 William R. Goodwin,COMNAVBASE Pearl Harbor PAO ..." http://www.mediacen.navy.mil/pubs/allhands/mar99/pg12.htm [25OCT2004]

Like an amusement park ride gone bad, the aircraft pitched and rolled as an intense, hot dot of sunlight roamed the interior of the cabin like a prison searchlight. The smell of gunpowder smoke became nauseating as it filled the cabin, while the in-flight technician shoved yet another sonobouy into its chute.

Above the roar of the aircraft's four, 4,600 horsepower turboprops, a metallic thump, like a sledge hammer against a steel bulkhead, meant another sonobouy was fired from the plane's belly with a shotgun shell-like charge. Welcome to the world of the P-3C Orion, the mighty hunter of submarines.

Amusement rides can be fun, but not if you're on them for eight hours. Still, Combat Aircrew 7 (one of 11 crews of NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii-based VP-47 wouldn't have it any other way.

The squadron's mission is to provide undersea warfare, surface warfare, intelligence collection, mine warfare, command, control and communication electronic warfare and mobility support to Commander, Patrol Wings, Pacific. VP-4, VP-9 and VPU-2 are also homeported at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii.

On this day, Combat Aircrew 7 was on a training mission in pursuit of an enemy submarine. The sub they were chasing was actually USS Buffalo (SSN 715). USS Kamehameha (SSN 642) was the command ship in the exercise.

Tracking submarines requires a great deal of steep banks and maneuvering at low altitude, where turbulence is greater.

It takes a long time to get used to sitting sideways on the plane, said Aviation Systems Warfare Operator 2nd Class (AW/NAC) Kevin R. Thompson, Combat Crew 7 sensor 1 acoustic operator. Sometimes when you're yanking and banking, you'll go from two feet away from the screen to two inches.

It's fun, and I just enjoy going out there and actually saying you did something for the day, explained Thompson.

A bad day of flying is better than a good day in the hangar, agreed Aviation Electrician's Mate 1st Class (AW/NAC) Scott A. Wells, one of Combat Crew 7's two flight engineers. I particularly like the low altitude, high air speed bombing runs. It's precision work. The flight station (cockpit) crew has to work real close together to keep the plane safe and it takes a lot of effort and a high amount of concentration, explained Wells. That precision is the result of intense training as the VP-47 Golden Swordsmen. Wells didn't get to be a flight engineer overnight.

I had to go to air crew school, which is five weeks of training, said Wells. Then flight engineer school at VP-30 in NAS Jacksonville, Florida, and that's 30 weeks of intensive classroom and in-flight training. Then, search and rescue school and after that you go to the fleet, and it took me about a year to get qualified here.

The typical P-3 crew consists of three pilots, one tactical coordinator, one navigator, two flight engineers, two sonar operators, one electronic warfare operator and one in-flight technician.

Wham! Another sonobouy splashed into the water as the tactical coordinator (TACCO) watched the doors on the aircraft's belly close from his infrared display.

Sonobouys are directional frequency and ranging sensors that listen for targets and transmit the acoustic data back to the aircraft. The acoustic operators monitor the data with headsets and on a multi-purpose display, then pass the information to the TACCO, who then decides where and when to launch the next sonobouy. The TACCO then directs the flight station crew on the proper course for the next launch.

The TACCO lays out a pattern of sonobouys to locate and track the target. On a given mission, more than 100 sonobouys could be launched. That's a big job for the in-flight technician who must keep his balance while loading the sonobouy chutes.

It is a crew aircraft, said LT David Ursini, Combat Crew 7 mission commander. On station, we're a team. No one person is going to save the day by himself or herself. We live or die on the collective efforts of everybody.

That collective effort also emerges during the bailout, ditching and fire drills conducted during the training flight. Although the crew could probably zip through the drills with their eyes closed, they have their game faces on and take this training quite seriously. However, when Combat Crew 7 gets their hooks on a submarine, they prosecute it with a vengeance.

The adrenaline is going a lot more when you track a foreign sub, said Thompson. Everybody's hyped up, because you're going out there to track somebody you've never tracked before. There's more of a sense of urgency. You have to stay on top of them and watch what they do. This is probably the most fulfilling job I've seen.

Pursuing submarines is the bread and butter of the 116-foot long, 139,760-pound P-3C. The first P-3V entered the Navy's inventory 36 years ago, and after three upgrades, the P-3C is the Navy's only land-based, long-range, anti-submarine aircraft. It has advanced submarine detection sensors such as directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment.

The avionics system is integrated by a general-purpose, digital computer that supports all of the tactical displays, monitors and automatically launches ordnance and provides flight information to the pilots. Additionally, the system coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data inputs for tactical display and storage. The P-3C can carry a mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons.

As the saying goes, what goes up, must come down and back on the ground, VP-47 like all VP squadrons, has an extensive line up of support services. Administrative, command services, operations, maintenance, safety, training and tactics are the primary departments of VP-47.

Because we are a sea-going squadron, there's a lot more travel and you learn more here than out in the fleet, said Yeoman 3rd Class Peggy A. Jackson. When we deploy, we pack up our computers, our office supplies and service records. When we get to our new site we set everything up and we're up and running. We have almost 400 people in our squadron, we have to write orders for the crews and everyone who's going on the airlift, plus maintenance personnel in case the plane breaks down. We also have to make sure everyone is ready medically and has a government passport. It takes a lot of time, but I've learned more here than anywhere else.

When VP-47 deploys, it's a major undertaking. In January 1998, they relieved VP-4 in NSF Diego Garcia where they assumed peacekeeping responsibilities in the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf. Many months of careful planning and preparation enabled nine aircraft, 11 crews, and nearly 400 personnel to complete the 9,000-mile, 10-time zone journey to this small island in the Indian Ocean.

Immediately upon arrival in NSF Diego Garcia, six aircrews and five aircraft detached to the Arabian Gulf. Three crews patrolled the Arabian Gulf around the clock for U.N. sanctions while the other three crews detached to Masirah, Oman, where they flew critical patrol missions armed with Maverick and Harpoon missiles.

VP-47 is also keeping pace with the recent installation of Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Package (AIP). These cutting-edge enhancements are designed to make the crews' lives easier.

One of the great features of AIP is that previously, on a typical P-3 you only see a certain function at the tactical stations, said Ursini. With AIP, the TACCO is able to split his screen so that he can bring up and physically look at the acoustic gram, for example, without getting out of his seat. With the push of the button, he can look at the acoustic gram and the radar while maintaining the tactical plot. It allows him to better manage his assets.

[The] OASIS [tactical data processor] is an easier way to pass contact information and is linked into the worldwide net, Ursini added. So literally, if I detect a contact somewhere, then send it to my operational commander via OASIS, he can automatically link it in and can bounce it via satellite to whomever needs to see that info, in real time. VP-47's Combat Crew 7 has adapted quite well to the changing role of the P-3C aircraft and its new enhancements.

After hours of yanking and banking, the shroud of darkness loomed over the mighty hunter and the hot dot of sunlight was replaced by stars rolling past the overhead windows of the flight station in a dizzying, surreal display.

As the mission drew to a conclusion, Combat Crew 7 had their hands and minds securely engaged in doing what they do best: Prosecuting submarines.

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Honolulu, Hawaii, 7 June 99.....from the Honolulu Advertiser: The last operatiional aircraft remaining at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii left today for deployment to Japan. The base closes July 1. VP-47, P-3 Orion submarine hunting airplanes, will be stationed at Misawa Air Base and Kadena Air Base. The 370 personnel will conduct a variety of missions, including maritime patrol support, escort services, medical evacuations, and search-and-rescue operations. When the squadron returns to Hawaii in December, it's new home will be Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe..." Contributed by Stan Wright, VP-17 (1967-1970) stanwright@hawaii.rr.com [08JUN99]

Circa 1998

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY:  History ThumbnailCameraID: DNSD0001083 - 980708N2619S011 "...Japanese aircrewmen load a MK-46 air launched torpedo into the bomb bay of a P-3 Orion aircraft as US Navy ordnancemen from VP-47 watch. Location: NAVAL AIR STATION BARBERS POINT, HAWAII (HI) UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (USA) - Camera Operator: PH2 AUGUST SIGUR Date Shot: 8 Jul 1998..." WebSite: Defense Visual Information Center http://www.dodmedia.osd.mil/ [03FEB2006]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Navy News 32/98 06AUG98 E-Mail Message: NNS3200. P-3C aircraft from five countries enhance RIMPAC `98 by Christi Erwin, RIMPAC `98 Combined Information Bureau..." [06AUG98]

NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii (NNS) -- Like an eagle hunting for fish, a P-3C Orion can loiter over a spot of ocean for hours, searching for its prey.

While the square-winged, four-engine turboprops don't have the same flash and swagger of an aircraft carrier's jet fighters, the patrol squadrons from five nations are creating a sensation of their own during the month-long RIMPAC `98 maritime exercise here.

Barbers Point is home to three P-3 patrol squadrons -- VP-4, VP-9 and VP-47 -- and host to squadrons from Australia, Canada, Japan and the Republic of Korea during RIMPAC `98. During the exercise -- which includes more than 50 ships, 200 aircraft and nearly 28,000 people -- the submarine hunters train with each other, as well as various ships and subs from six participating Pacific Rim nations.

"Because of RIMPAC, the crews are gaining valuable flight time and experience," said LCDR Tom Kollie, a VP-4 tactical coordinator. "Through RIMPAC `98 we are able to train with other countries' aircraft and watercraft," Kollie said. "This helps us insure we are productive in our training for our missions."

Since 1962, the VP-4 has been an anti-submarine warfare workhorse of the Navy, combining long range and excellent fuel economy with increasingly sophisticated avionics and technology.

The versatile aircraft are used by a number of countries worldwide for a variety of missions, including seeking and destroying submarines and ships, maritime patrol, laying mines, and search and rescue.While searching for a submarine, the aircraft can circle ominously above for hours and drop dozens of canister-shaped listening devices into the ocean. The devices, called sonobuoys, transmit information overhead to the VP-4 with its advanced submarine-detection sensors.

The crew can determine if the detected signal is from a submarine, a ship, a whale or an earthquake on the ocean floor. The P-3C is the Navy's sole land-based anti-submarine warfare aircraft. It does not operate off an aircraft carrier, but its crew checks in with the battle group to do whatever tasking is necessary.

"RIMPAC `98 enables the squadrons and submarines to search for and hide from another country's aircraft and subs," said LT Susan Papp, a VP-4 mission commander from Valley Forge, Pa. "That's a goal of the exercise -- having the different nations work together as a multi-national force. It also provides the aircraft and submarine crews with realistic scenarios. [06AUG98]

Circa 1996

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "00APR96--NAVY SQUADRONS MOVE FROM BARBERS POINT TO NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii...The Navy has decided to relocate three squadrons of P-3C Orion aircraft and associated personnel from NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, to Marine Corps Base Hawaii (MCBH), NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by 1999. This move follows the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) committee's decision to close NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii, which also called for moving one squadron of SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from Barbers Point to NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Patrol squadrons VP-4, VP-9 and VP-47, and Anti-Submarine Warfare Helicopter Squadron 37 are scheduled to move. Along with these squadrons, some additional commands will move from NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii to MCBH NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, including Commander, Patrol Wings Pacific. There will be a total of 32 P-3C Orion aircraft and 10 SH-60 Seahawk helicopters making the move. By keeping the squadrons and 2,200 associated military personnel and civilian employees in Hawaii, the local economy will retain an estimated $84 million in annual revenue from salaries plus goods and services purchased by the Navy. The decision to move three patrol squadrons to MCBH NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii allows the Navy to keep the aircraft strategically located in the mid-Pacific, where they train regularly with Hawaii-based surface ships and submarines, and make regular deployments to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf regions. The decision also uses the capacity of MCBH NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to its best advantage. Before the 1993 BRAC decision, six patrol squadrons were based at NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. Two squadrons have since Disestablished as part of the Navy's force reductions, and a third has moved to NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. With the three remaining P-3C squadrons moving to MCBH NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Pacific Fleet's six P-3C squadrons will be divided evenly between NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and NAS Whidbey Island, Washington when NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii closes in 1999." http://www.navy-reserve.org/9604/nra9604g.html

Circa 1995

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Awards, Change-Of-Command, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - September - October 1995.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1995/so95.pdf [12NOV2004]

VP History ThumbnailCamera

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "29MAR95: NORTH ARABIAN SEA (NNS) -- Eleven crew members from Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 were recovered safely from the North Arabian Sea about 1:30 p.m. March 25 after their P-3C Orion aircraft ditched following engine problems. The aircraft was on a routine mission five miles off the Omani coast when the mishap occurred. The 11 crew members were recovered by a helicopter at the scene and treated for minor injuries. Units from the Omani air force responded immediately to lend assistance at the scene. VP 47 is homeported in Barbers Point, Hawaii. The Navy is conducting an investigation into the cause of the accident. (This story appeared on Navy Wire Service as NWSA425)"

Circa 1994

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Awards, Major Deployments, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - July - August 1994.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1994/ja94.pdf [12NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Change-Of-Command, Disestablishment, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - January - February 1994.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1994/jf94.pdf [12NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...30NOV94 - NNS000. U.S. Navy Enroute to Burning Cruise Ship - INDIAN OCEAN (NNS)..." [10JUL2003]

Two Navy ships were speeding toward a rescue mission Wednesday (Nov. 30), after being called upon to provide assistance to the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro which was on fire about 130 miles east off Somalia in the Indian Ocean.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command VADM John Scott Redd dispatched a P-3 surveillance aircraft from VP-47 to the Achille Lauro, where the aircrew reported hundreds of passengers and crew were either in life boats, or being picked up by three merchant ships already on the scene. During a live report to CNN from above the burning ship, the P-3's Tactical Coordinator, LT Paul Frost, reported "the aft half of the ship is engulfed in flames," and that the ship was listing badly.

COMUSNAVCENT diverted the Mayport-based USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and Charleston-based USS Halyburton (FFG 40) to the site after receiving word of the fire from the search and rescue center in Norway. The Navy ships were operating about 350 miles north of the Achille Lauro's position.

As the Navy ships approached the scene, a helicopter operating from the deck of Gettysburg overflew the merchants, then returned to Gettysburg to retrieve medical supplies and food to support the evacuated passengers. Gettysburg's Commanding Officer, CAPT P.R. Smith, has been designated the Navy's on-scene commander, and will assess further rescue operations upon his ship's arrival.

Circa 1993

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Change-Of-Command, Records, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - September - October 1993.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1993/so93.pdf [12NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...VP Deployments, Change-Of-Command, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - July - August 1993.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1993/ja93.pdf [12NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Change-Of-Command - Naval Aviation News - January - February 1993.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1993/jf93.pdf [12NOV2004]

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Circa 1992

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Awards, Change-Of-Command, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - September-October 1992.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1992/so92.pdf [11NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Change-Of-Command, Safe Flying, etc. - Naval Aviation News - July-August 1992.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1992/ja92.pdf [11NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Base Closures, Change-Of-Command, Records, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - May-June 1992.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1992/mj92.pdf [11NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News Magazine "...Change-Of-Command, Safe Flying, Etc. - Naval Aviation News - January-February 1992.." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1992/jf92.pdf [11NOV2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...VP-47 1992 NAS Misawa, Japan CruiseBook History..." 35KB PDF File: VP-47 1992 NAS Misawa, Japan Cruisebook History Contributed by JACKSON, MS2 Jerri jerri.jackson@navy.mil [05FEB2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-47 History ThumbnailCamera "...Leaving friends I made in NAS Misawa, Japan "92"..." Contributed by JACKSON, MS2 Jerri jerri.jackson@navy.mil [05FEB2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-47 History ThumbnailCamera "...A Christmas Party (I'm in the middle) either while in NAS Misawa, Japan or NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii (the year is wrong on the pictures, I have an awful memory..." Contributed by JACKSON, MS2 Jerri jerri.jackson@navy.mil [05FEB2004]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: VP-47 History ThumbnailCamera "...Group of friends partying in NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii. I left in 1994..." Contributed by JACKSON, MS2 Jerri jerri.jackson@navy.mil [05FEB2004]

Circa 1991

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation November-December 1991 "...History - Change-Of-Command - Naval Aviation News - November-December 1991..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1991/nd91.pdf [25OCT2004]

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Circa 1990

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation January-February 1991 "...History - Naval Aviation News - January-February 1991..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1991/jf91.pdf [24OCT2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation July-August 1990 "...History - Change-Of-Command - Page 4, 6 and 34 - Naval Aviation News - July-August 1990..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1990/ja90.pdf [22OCT2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation January-February 1990 "...History - Change-Of-Command - Page 7, 21 and 30 - Naval Aviation News - January-February 1990..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1990s/1990/jf90.pdf [22OCT2004]

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HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...Records Safe Flying Time - VP-47: 110,700 hours and 17 years...." Naval Aviation News July-August 1990 Page 32 [10JUL2001]

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