VP-45 Pelicans Squadron Patch – Plastic Backing
VP-45 COMMAND HISTORY
Patrol Squadron FORTY-FIVE (VP-45) home ported at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, was initially commissioned Patrol Squadron TWO ZERO FIVE (VP-205) on 1 November 1942 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia. The squadron was soon ordered to San Juan, Puerto Rico where it received a full complement of 13 PBM Mariners for its mission of anti-submarine patrol and convoy escort over Atlantic and Caribbean waters.
During 1944, VP-205 moved successively to NAAF/NAF Port of Spain, Trinidad, British West Indies, NAS Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then back to NAS Norfolk, Virginia for refresher training at NAAS Harvey Point, Hertford, North Carolina. The squadron was redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron 205 (VPB-205) and joined the Pacific Fleet at NAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, at the end of 1944. In 1945, VPB-205 carried out missions of ASW, surveillance patrols, and search and rescue from Tanapag, Saipan; Chim Wan, Okinawa; and Wakayama, Japan. The squadron returned to NAS Norfolk, Virginia in October 1945 for training and overhaul, and moved to NAS Bermuda in April 1946. Its designation was changed to VP-MS-5 in 1946, and then to its present designation as VP-45 on 1 September 1948. VP-45 subsequently had changes of homeport back to NAS Norfolk, Virginia to NAS Coco Solo, Panama, Canal Zone in 1951, when it transitioned to P5M Marlin seaplanes and back to NAS Bermuda in 1956.
VP-45 took part in numerous Caribbean operations with seaplane tenders, was airborne on all “Mercury” space shots as part of the Bermuda Recovery Unit, and became part of ASW Task Group DELTA in September, 1961. The early efforts of Task Group DELTA resulted in significant developments in ASW tactics, sensors and related equipment.
VP-45 then left Task Group DELTA at the end of 1962 to deploy to Guantanamo Bay for ASW and shipping surveillance in connection with the Cuban Missile Crisis.
In September 1963, VP-45 established detachments at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland and NAS Jacksonville, Florida to commence transition to the P-3A Orion aircraft.
On 1 January 1964 the squadron changed homeport to NAS Jacksonville, Florida and became part of Fleet Air Wing ELEVEN. VP-45 was fully operational in the P-3A by May 1964, and detached five aircraft to NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada for deployment operations of ASW surveillance and ice reconnaissance until February 1965. After a short period at home, the squadron deployed to NAS Adak, Alaska in July 1965 to operate under the control of Commander Alaskan Sea Frontier, and returned to NAS Jacksonville, Florida in January, 1966. In July 1966, VP-45 returned to NAS Bermuda with a six-plane detachment during which time it carried out ASW operations in the central Atlantic.
From January to June 1967, the squadron continued to participate actively in support of Atlantic Fleet operations. It sent the first P-3A to the Joint Anti-Submarine School at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, sent a detachment to Panama and operated a three-plane detachment at Ascension Island. In June, VP-45 again deployed to NAS Bermuda with a three-plane detachment at NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, and returned to NAS Jacksonville, Florida in December 1967.
In May 1968, VP-45 responded when the first word was received concerning the tragic loss of the nuclear submarine SCORPION. The squadron flew extensive search and rescue missions from Bermuda and Lajes, Azores. In December 1968, VP-45 departed NAS Jacksonville, Florida for a six-month deployment in support of U. S. combat operations in Southeast Asia. Under the consecutive operational control of CPW-10 and CPW-8, the squadron carried out operations from bases at NS Sangley Point, Philippines and U-Tapao, Thailand. The squadron’s primary mission was coastal surveillance patrols in conjunction with operation “Market Time”. All VP-45 crews were awarded at least two Air Medals in addition to the Vietnamese Service Medal and Vietnamese Campaign Medal.
Resuming normal operations in NAS Jacksonville, Florida in June, 1969, the squadron deployed four months later to NS Rota, Spain operating with a four-plane, six-crew detachment. The detachment augmented SIXTH Fleet ASW forces in the Mediterranean, participated in several exercises, and conducted numerous patrol operations. The squadron returned to NAS Jacksonville, Florida in July 1970.
In October 1970 the squadron deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily. During the four month deployment, VP-45 conducted ASW and surface surveillance operations for Commander, Antisubmarine Warfare Forces SIXTH Fleet. The squadron flew numerous operations during the Jordanian crisis, and logged over 3500 flight hours. The squadron was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its participation during the Jordanian situation. In December 1971, the squadron conducted a four month split deployment between NS Rota, Spain and NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal and operated detachments from Souda Bay, Crete; Sal, Cape Verde Islands; and NAS Sigonella, Sicily.
In April 1972, VP-45 began transitioning to the P-3C Orion, a computerized, more sophisticated version of the P-3A. Transition was complete in October 1972, and the squadron gained immediate operational experience with detachments to NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal in December, 1972 and January, 1973. In October 1973, the Pelicans completed a five month deployment to NAF Lajes, Azores, Portugal, and were the first P-3C squadron in the Mediterranean. VP-45 was later awarded the Arnold J. Isbell Trophy for excellence in anti-submarine warfare for the NAS Sigonella, Sicily deployment.
In July 1974, VP-45 deployed to NAS Keflavik, Iceland and conducted flight operations in the North Atlantic. The squadron was relieved on 12 December 1974 and returned to NAS Jacksonville, Florida. The Pelicans deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily in August 1975, and conducted ASW operations, surface surveillance and participated in several NATO and SIXTH Fleet exercises. The squadron was awarded the first SIXTH Fleet “Hook ‘Em” Award for ASW excellence in the Mediterranean, and logged nearly 6000 flight hours during the five month deployment.
Beginning in July 1976, VP-45 participated in UNITAS XVII, an annual U. S./South American naval exercise which required the Pelicans to operate detachments from NS Roosevelt Roads, PR, NAF Natal, Brazil, Uruguay, NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, Chile, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela under the operational control of Commander, U. S. South Atlantic Force. In December 1976, a month after termination of UNITAS XVII, VP-45 deployed again to NAS Keflavik, Iceland, conducting surface surveillance and ASW operations in the North Atlantic and Norwegian Sea. The squadron was relieved in May 1977 and returned to NAS Jacksonville, Florida to prepare for its upcoming deployment to NAS Sigonella, Sicily in early 1978.
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 24×7 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 three months ahead of schedule, an unprecedented feat. 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 received 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.
In 2009, the Pelicans executed a challenging multi-site deployment operating in both the PACIFIC and SOUTHERN Command’s Area of Responsibility. While on deployment, VP-45 executed 500 missions and 11 detachments encompassing 3,321 mishap-free flight hours in support of SEVENTH Fleet operational tasking and FOURTH Fleet counter-drug operations. During this time, VP-45 crews flew the most successful and longest ASW prosecution of an out-of-area deployer in the SEVENTH Fleet AOR, conducted maritime counter-proliferation and interdiction operations in support of United Nation sanctions against North Korea and assisted in the seizure of over 20 metric tons of illegal narcotics. Shortly after returning from deployment, VP-45 supported the nation of Haiti during post earthquake recovery efforts. The Pelicans maintained their impressive safety record flying over 5,200 hours mishap-free through dedicated maintenance and by the book procedures, culminating in the squadron being awarded the CNO Safety “S” Award for the second consecutive year. The Pelicans were recognized for their hard work and set as the benchmark with the COMNAVAIRLANT Battle “E” for 2010.
In 2011, the Pelicans completed their Inter-deployment Readiness Cycle with victories for Combat Aircrew One in the Maritime Patrol Aviation Fleet Challenge for 2011 and the coveted Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 ASW Rodeo award for second quarter 2011. In May, they headed out for a successful tri-site deployment to Comalapa, El Salvador; Djibouti, Djibouti; and Sigonella, Italy. The deployment supported U.S. Navy Fifth and Sixth Fleets involvement in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Unified Protector, Operation Active Endeavour, Operation Carib Shield, and Operation Caper Focus. Of note, these operations lead to the unseating of Libyan dictator, Momar Qaddafi, the seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars in narcotics bound for the U.S., and the prevention of piracy around the Horn of Africa. Under CDR Ditch’s leadership, Patrol Squadron 45 flew 568 sorties, which resulted in the execution of 5435 mishap-free, combat flight hours.
VP-45 is currently under the leadership of Commanding Officer CDR TJ Grady and Executive Officer John Weidner. The Pelicans have recently completed their transition from the venerable P-3 to the Navy’s newest maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8 Poseidon.