Tuesday, October 30, 2007

VP-1 Aircrew Trains with Sub to Promote Op Readiness

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (NAC) Jason Beckjord, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Public Affairs

Sailors from the Patrol Squadron (VP) 1 "Screaming Eagles," P-3C squadron, of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, conducted anti-submarine warfare training, Oct. 18.

They began their preflight inspections of their equipment before taking off, early in the morning. The combat aircrew (CAC) flew for nearly an hour before arriving at their on station point and began the hunt for the submarine.

In order to ensure CAC's are prepared to track in a real world environment, crews are trained with the use of real submarines.

"There are certain things you can't simulate," said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class (AW/NAC) Brian Wing, VP-1 CAC 12. "Things like the water environment and the weather can have an affect on both the aircrew and the sensors we use to hunt and track submarines. We train like we fight, so, there are early morning hours as well as night flights."

Tracking and hunting submarines is one of the many capabilities of the P-3C Orion, making flights like these very important in terms of operational readiness.

"Operational readiness helps keep everyone proficient," said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class (NAC) Raymond Perez, VP-1 CAC 7.

Due to aircraft maintenance, weather conditions, runway availability, and other variables, VP-1 aircrews often work long hours to make sure the mission is accomplished. Even though the hours are unusual, VP-1 aircrews are committed to the business of being a part of the Navy's frontline antisubmarine force.

"The squadron can get pretty hectic," said Information Systems Technician Seaman Josh Burke, VP-1. "There's always a bunch of flights, simulators and training days. We are always busy, especially as we ramp up for deployment."

VP-1 aircrew and maintenance personnel work long and arduous hours to maintain peak readiness for deployment to areas of operation all over the world. Since their return in 2006 from a Western-Pacific deployment, the Screaming Eagles have consistently trained in preparation for their next deployment.

Though anti-submarine warfare is only one aspect of the P-3C mission, all of VP-1's 12 aircrews maintain operational currency in this qualification as well as many other P-3C capabilities.