Wednesday, November 22, 2006

VAQ-137 Returns from Six Month Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Bruce McVicar, Northwest Fleet Public Affairs Center Detachment

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- The Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 137 “Rooks” returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Nov. 17, concluding a six-month deployment.
“We completed an outstanding deployment, made possible due to a phenomenal effort by the Rook Sailors,” said Cmdr. Mike Buchanan, commanding officer of VAQ-137. “When you put so much focus into your job the last six months, finally seeing your family again is extremely emotional.”

The squadron left Whidbey Island in May, and by the next month were conducting split-site operations from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and from Al Asad air base in Iraq, supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).

"It was a great deployment. We received unbelievable support from the carrier and the air base,” said Lt. Colin Allen.

In June, the Rooks flew more than 500 combat hours in country with two jets and 50 maintenance personnel.

They supported a second detachment during September and October with three jets and flew more than 1,200 combat hours. Overall, the Rooks flew 326 sorties out of 330 scheduled for a 99 percent sortie-completion rate in support of OIF. A total of 2,050 hours were flown during the deployment.

“It was a long cruise and felt quite a bit longer than six-and-a-half months,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rich Knapp. “I’m glad to be home and someplace less than 90 degrees every day.”
“The squadrons performance was outstanding. Our maintenance department provided tremendous support,” said Knapp.

The Rooks were also the first Prowler squadron to deploy with the Improved Capability III Block 2 software to include LINK 16. This updated electronic attack detection suite provides for expanded frequency coverage, improved geo-location, increased interoperability, and integrated communications jamming capability.

Also returning are 20 members of the Sea Operational Det. from Fleet Readiness Center Northwest that provides technical support to keep the jets in top condition.

Milcom Unit Report:
Squadron: VAQ-137/CVW-1
Home Port: NAS Whidbey Island, Washington
Common Callsigns: Rook ##/AB 500+
Squadron Frequencies: 242.725 335.700