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Patrol Squadron FOUR ZERO

Fighting Marlins


Official History of the Fighting Marlins

2010s - Present

Following the challenging IDRC, in May 2011, the squadron deployed to Kadena AFB, Japan in support of Commander, SEVENTH Fleet. Supporting 29 bilateral and multilateral exercises, the Fighting Marlins detached 24 times to 10 countries throughout the western Pacific and executed 725 sorties totaling 4,495 flight hours with a 97 percent mission completion rate. Continuously proving their superior on-station performance, the Fighting Marlins collected critical acoustic intelligence on four foreign deployment submarines and tracked two vessels suspected of violating United Nations Security Council Resolutions resulting in a rare "BRAVO ZULU" from the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In addition, the superb efforts by the Fighting Marlins resulted in the awarding of the 2011 Commander, Naval Air Forces, and U.S. Pacific Fleet Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy.

Upon their return from a successful SEVENTH Fleet deployment in December 2011, the Fighting Marlins prepared for new challenges brought on by their first 12 month IDRC in ten years. The squadron made the most of this IDRC by focusing on aircrew readiness and personal growth, while sending detachments to Jacksonville, FL and San Diego, CA for training exercises. Completing ARP with 12 combat ready aircrews eager for new challenges, the Fighting Marlins sent a detachment to Hawaii in June to support RIMPAC 2012 while simultaneously executing ORE. The squadron then detached to Guam to participate in VALIANT SHIELD 2012, where they successfully integrated with deployed VP/VQ squadrons and a P-8 Poseidon detachment successfully demonstrating a Family of Systems concept. During this historic exercise, they completed ORE and provided more submarine on top time than at any previous VALIANT SHIELD.

The squadron then put an exclamation point at the end of a challenging IDRC with a dominant showing during FNET and the CNAF Aviation Maintenance Inspection, where our Maintenance Team received an exceptional evaluation. After having flown 651 sorties for 3,036 hours during the IDRC, the squadron deployed to Isa Air Base, Bahrain and Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in November, 2012 in support of Commander, FIFTH Fleet having surpassed 45 years and 278,646 hours of mishap-free flying.

During their U.S. 5TH Fleet deployment, VP-40 deployed 337 Sailors, 12 combat aircrews and assumed duties as Commander Task Group (CTG) 57.2 with personnel and equipment supporting sustained operations. The "Fighting Marlins" displayed exemplary proficiency while executing a total of 4,218 flight hours and 516 missions from November 2012 until June 2013. During the six month deployment, VP-40 carried out several detachments to Masirah, Oman, in support of Commander Task Force (CTF) 150 and CTF-151. VP-40 also provided a total of 28 escort missions in support of High Value Units (HVU), to include the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN-74) Strike group.

In January 2013, VP-40 achieved the most significant and unprecedented accomplishment of the deployment when it successfully conducted 12 days of continuous flight operations from three locations to provide non-stop coverage of a high-interest contact, which garnered international attention. While continuing to implement a high operational tempo, VP-40 also focused on bolstering relations with our coalition partners. The "Fighting Marlins" hosted a delegation of Pakistani Naval maintenance professionals to exchange best practices and Naval Aviation Maintenance Programs. The squadron also flew an Australian Intelligence Officer from CTF-150 in the culmination of a series of cross-deck briefings designed to improve the products provided to the Task Force. Additionally, VP-40 provided ASW and ASUW support for several exercises, including the MAG-40 WASEX, CASTEX events with USS JACKSONVILLE (SSN-699), JADEX 13-3, SPARTAN KOPIS, and DESERT DRAGON 13-1.

In another noteworthy operational accomplishment, VP-40 collected intelligence critical to international efforts to detect and inhibit illicit oil and fuel smuggling in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR; these efforts garnered significant visibility at the Departments of State and Treasury, resulting in the Department of State issuing a demarche to 13 countries regarding the observed activity. In June 2013, the "Fighting Marlins" concluded their outstanding deployment by providing Patrol Squadron ONE (VP-1) with a commendable turnover that enabled the "Screaming Eagles" to adequately assume duties as CTG 57.2. This directly resulted in a seamless transition and a continued superior level of service to the supported commanders in the AOR.

Upon return from deployment, the squadron began its IDRC in earnest. In July through September 2013, the squadron completed the first ever Acoustic Processor Technical Refresh/Multi-static Active Coherent (APTR/MAC) Fleet Introduction Team (FIT) training. The level of preparation and engagement by the VP-40 maintenance professionals and the three crews receiving the MAC training was exceptional, and was noted as such by the FIT instructors. The training culminated in a live test of the system during a detachment to NAS Patuxent River where VP-40's crew was the only crew to successfully gain acoustic contact on every flight. VP-40 was hand selected to lead the MPRA community in the successful operational implementation of this critical new capability during the upcoming deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet AOR. Additionally during this time VP-40 supported the USS SAN FRANCISCO (SSN-711) TRACKEX, the USS JEFFERSON CITY (SSN-759) TRACKEX, and the Scoot & Shoot exercise at NAS Fallon, Nevada in coordination with Navy EP-3s, P-8s, EA-18Gs and Air Force F-22s.

In November 2013, the "Fighting Marlins" sent maintenance personnel and two combat aircrews on a detachment to San Diego, CA in support of the USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN-76) Strike group IDCERTEX. VP-40's ASW and ASUW support yielded 40 flight hours and nine missions for a successful exercise completion. During this time, VP-40 continued its IDRC with 10 of the 12 combat aircrews effectively completing ARP. The squadron provided ASW assets for Canada in December 2013, in the MAPLE FURY exercise, where VP-40 collaborated with the HMCS VICTORIA, HMCS EDMONTON, and HMCS YELLOWKNIFE. In the culmination of a thriving and productive year for the "Fighting Marlins," VP-40 ended 2013 with 285,146 hours and 52 years of mishap free operations.

Patrol Squadron FORTY (VP-40) began 2014 by participating in OPERATION KOA KAI at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in support of Patrol Squadron FOUR's Operational Readiness Evaluation (ORE). Concurrently, VP-40 also sent two crews to take part in the month-long RED FLAG exercise at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, Nevada. VP-40 then completed its own ORE in preparation for the upcoming deployment to Japan.

In mid-2014, VP-40 embarked on what would be an eight month U.S. SEVENTH Fleet deployment. After establishing itself at Kadena Air Base and Misawa Air Base, Japan, VP-40 completed an efficient turnover with the "Grey Knights" of Patrol Squadron FORTY SIX and assumed responsibility as Commander, Task Group (CTG) 72.4. The Fighting Marlins were deployed alongside the "Mad Foxes" of Patrol Squadron FIVE, who began their first and the second ever deployment with the new P-8A Poseidon. VP-40 started their deployment with enthusiasm, executing a diverse mission set in support of U.S. SEVENTH Fleet.

From the very beginning of the deployment, crews from VP-40 soon found themselves representing the United States, the U.S. Navy, and the Maritime Patrol community throughout the theater. Immediately upon arrival, one crew was sent on detachment to Subic Bay, Republic of the Philippines in direct support of the USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73) Strike Group to participate as part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) initiative, a multi-national exercise geared to observe and improve the maritime security operations of the Philippine Navy. Shortly thereafter and on extremely short notice, the squadron detached a crew to perform Search and Rescue operations near the island of Pohnpei, assisting the local government in the search for missing mariners. This pace of crew detachments continued and even increased, with one or more crews travelling to several locations to include Malaysia, Palau, Thailand, and the Philippines throughout the deployment. These detachments supported theater-level engagement initiatives to include CARAT, Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training exercises, Sea Surveillance Exercises, OPERATION ISLAND CHIEF in Palau, and ULCHI-FREEDOM GUARDIAN in South Korea.

In September 2014, VP-40 sent four crews to participate in the colossal, biennial joint exercise VALIANT SHIELD. The focus of the exercise was to improve joint effectiveness of U.S. forces in multiple domains to include sea, air and land. Over the course of the exercise, VP-40 flew more than 300 tactical flight hours, of which 200 were on-station hours conducting ASW.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) celebrated its 75th anniversary in October 2014, where VP-40 aircrews were invited to participate in combined exercises and revel in the rich history of the RAAF. Later in the month, a detachment was sent to Palau where aircrew worked with the local law enforcement agency, collecting valuable maritime intelligence that greatly assisted with combating illegal fishing in the area. Over the next three months, VP-40 continued to relentlessly provide a vigilant and persistent presence throughout the Pacific theater.

Despite conducting more than 20 detachments, missions originating from Kadena and Misawa continued unabated and the stalwart Fighting Marlin maintenance team directly enabled those flight operations throughout the area of responsibility. Drawing upon their extensive experience, VP-40’s maintenance professionals were able to maintain the Fighting Marlins’ aircraft in a nearly perpetual fully mission capable status. The teamwork exhibited by the VP-40 team enabled the successful completion of 626 sorties encompassing 3,334 flight hours over the eight month deployment, and an exemplary 98.9 percent mission completion rate emphasized the Fighting Marlins’ expertise in executing their assigned tasking.

At the end of January 2015, VP-40 successfully turned over CTG 72.4 operations to the "Screaming Eagles" of Patrol Squadron ONE and returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. They returned to a warm welcome and eagerly completed their immediate training requirements to facilitate a well-deserved break following their incredibly successful deployment.

On March 15, 2016, Patrol Squadron FORTY (VP-40) flew out to begin a tri-site deployment to U.S. FIFTH, SIXTH, and SEVENTH Fleet with 325 personnel. The Fighting Marlins were eager to begin a diverse deployment knowing that each site offered its own unique challenges and opportunities.

The majority of Patrol Squadron FORTY’s effort in various theaters was primarily directed toward Littoral Surveillance and Reconnaissance System (LSRS) operations accounting for over 80 percent of operational flight hours. Furthermore, VP-40 innovatively pioneered new concepts in LSRS operations with two successful expeditionary detachments to the Philippines, providing unmatched flexibility in the employment of this unique capability.

In FIFTH Fleet, as Commander, Task Group (CTG) 57.2 based out of Bahrain, more than 1420 operational hours were flown in support of Operations INHERENT RESOLVE, RESTORING HOPE, and U.S. FIFTH Fleet and Central Command (CENTCOM) tasking. Four armed escort events provided Coalition High Value Units with the security needed to conduct high-risk evolutions with assurance. Maximizing limited Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) opportunities, VP-40 gained over 25 hours of acoustic contact, maximizing the squadron’s readiness. VP-40’s greatest contribution to the theater was the flawless execution of the P-3C's wide range of ISR capabilities. In April, Combat Aircrew FOUR was awarded Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals for their role in assisting USS SIRROCCO in the seizure of illicit arms cargo. In addition, LSRS played a vital role in U.S. FIFTH Fleet supporting Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. The execution of nearly 700 operational hours was vital to the intelligence preparation of the battlefield and consisted of time-sensitive intelligence for friendly forces facilitating cross-cueing intelligence between multiple platforms.

In SIXTH Fleet as CTG 67.8, based in Incirlik, Turkey, VP-40 was an expeditionary LSRS detachment providing support towards Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. Operating from a forward location, the detachment flew more hours per person than any of the deployment sites and maintained more than a 91 percent mission completion rate. On station, the crews provided critical and time sensitive reports which greatly enhanced the ground commander’s situational awareness and ultimately resulted in kinetic strikes in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. In July 2016, VP-40 Aircrews temporarily relocated from Turkey to Souda Bay, Greece after an apparent coup d'état which caused Incirlik Air Base to shut down for several days. Even with this complication, operations continued with the arduous tempo, executing 998 hours of operational support over the course of the deployment. This detachment embodied the "can do" spirit championed by VP-40, overcoming obstacles while maintaining elite operational focus.

In U.S. SEVENTH Fleet as CTG 72.4, based in Kadena, Japan, VP-40 executed 1,036 hours of operational tasking across the entire spectrum of Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) missions. Three submarines were prosecuted, and several training exercise events were conducted resulting in more than 48 hours of acoustic contact. Those exercises were integrated into the larger Theater Security and Cooperation efforts by VP-40's participation in eight exercises with the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia, mutually enhancing partner proficiency and overall interoperability. Beyond ASW, these exercises included Anti-Surface Warfare (ASUW) and (MINEX) events. Additionally, VP-40 participated in the biennial exercise, VALIANT SHIELD. This exercise afforded the opportunity to rehearse major combat operations with Joint Forces across all warfare domains, flying training missions in ASW, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), and Coordinated Operations alongside the aircraft carrier USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76), the amphibious assault ship USS BONHOMME RICHARD (LHD 6) and its Amphibious Ready Group, as well as nine other surface vessels, and over 180 aircraft from the U.S. Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps.

On June 2, 2016 Patrol Squadron FORTY Executive Officer CDR Aaron F. Shoemaker assumed command of VP-40 from CDR Timothy M. Thompson during a Change of Command ceremony at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan becoming the squadron’s 66th Commanding Officer. CDR Scott Coonan became the new Executive Officer, while Master Chief Nicholas Berryman joined the leadership triad as the Command Master Chief.

VP-40 partic¬ipated in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise between the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Royal Thai Armed Forces on June 14-22, at U-Tapao Royal Thai Airfield, Thailand. VP-40 showcased the P-3C Orion in CARAT Thailand by participating in an Expendable Mobile ASW Training Target (EMATT) exercise, a MINEX, a Gunnery Exercise (GUNNEX), and an Air Defense Exercise (ADEX). This allowed RTN ships and USS STETHEM (DDG 63) to practice targeting (simulated attacks from aircraft) as well as the opportunity to refine combined strategies to better combat traditional and nontraditional maritime security challenges.

On October 10, 2016, Patrol Squadron FORTY’s last plane flew home to Whidbey Island, Washington, concluding a ¬¬fierce deployment. In total, the squadron flew 6,193.5 flight hours, executed over 1,070 operational sorties, performed 8,869 maintenance actions, and executed 22,594.5 maintenance man hours over the course of the seven month deployment.

Now home, the cycle has been a busy yet productive one for the Fighting Marlins. In October, Patrol Squadron FORTY assisted in an anti-narcotics operation with the Canadian Coast Guard, successfully locating and photographing a vessel suspected of smuggling narcotics. In January 2017, VP-40 sent two crews, two P-3C aircraft, and a maintenance detachment to Patuxent River, Maryland to provide live-stream video to ground security forces during the Presidential Inauguration for President Donald Trump in Washington D.C. In February, VP-40 sent its first crew to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii in support of the Homeland Defense Detachment, as well as a crew and a liaison officer to participate in Exercise AIR WING FALLON. VP-40 accepted two new aircraft from Patrol Squadron FORTY SEVEN late February in preparation for the upcoming deployment, before sending another crew to participate in a detect-to-engage exercise with DDG 1000 out of NAS North Island, San Diego, CA. In March, VP-40’s Combat AirCrew (CAC) 8 completed a joint mission to collect acoustic and non-acoustic information on the Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) for fleet readiness. This became the Zumwalt’s first evaluation of this kind. In April, VP-40 sent seven aircrews, four aircraft, and maintenance division to participate in the Joint Task Force Exercise with the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group. At the end of April, two aircrews, one aircraft, and maintenance detachment was also sent to Anchorage, Alaska in support of Northern Edge.

On June 1, 2017 Patrol Squadron FORTY Executive Officer CDR Scott Coonan assumed command from CDR Aaron Shoemaker during a Change of Command ceremony at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Coonan became the 67th commanding officer of the Fighting Marlins of VP-40. CDR Patrick O’Reilly became the new Executive Officer. In November of the same year, Master Chief Teri Boucher arrived to assume the duties of Command Master Chief.

The following IDRC saw VP-40 participate in large-scale exercises like Valiant Shield, where VP-40 paricipated alongside the Navy and Marine Corps' most advanced weapons platforms. The deployment which followed saw VP-40 support 5th and 7th fleet operations across five sites, simultaneously. The squadron supported operations INHERANT RESOLVE, ENDURING FREEDOM HOA, RESTORE HOPE, FREEDOM SENTINEL, and PACIFIC EAGLE.

Change of Command

Following the command's return home, in May 2018 CDR Patrick O’Reilly assumed command of Patrol Squadron FORTY from CDR Scott Coonan, becoming the 68th Commanding Officer of VP-40; CDR Matthew McKerring became the new Executive Officer.

P-3 Sundown

Patrol Squadron FORTY departed NAS Whidbey Island March 2019 to embark upon the US Navy’s final active duty P-3C deployment, to FIFTH and SEVENTH Fleets’ Area of Responsibility. As Commander, Task Group (CTG) 57.2 in Isa Air Base, Bahrain, with a detachment site in Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti, the squadron flew hundreds of sorties, including numerous armed escort missions in support of the International Maritime Security Construct. In this dynamic AOR, VP-40 bore witness to an international crisis between the United States, its allies, and Iran; the squadron's presence was vital to deterring escalation to a greater conflict. The Fighting Marlins repeatedly proved their mettle patrolling the skies of the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, and Red Sea. Patrol Squadron FORTY's performance providing overwatch for surface traffic transiting the Strait of Hormuz repeatedly caught the attention of higher command, keeping the squadron's services in high demand. As CTG 72.8 in Kadena Air Base, FORTY conducted various operations in support of United States interests throughout the Western Pacific operating theater.

On 03 May 2019, in a Change of Command ceremony aboard Isa Air Base, Bahrain, CDR McKerring became Patrol Squadron FORTY’s 69th Commanding Officer, and CDR Joseph Parsons became the squadron’s Executive Officer.

Following the squadron's return home in October 2019, the P-3C was retired from the active fleet inventory. Patrol Squadron FORTY, fighting to the finish, played an integral role in preparing its airplanes for the next stage of their service lives. Within weeks, the squadron flew the Navy's last active P-3Cs to their new homes aboard the 309th AMARG in Tucson, AZ; reserve squadron VP-62 in Jacksonville, FL; and the Naval Aviation museum in Pensacola, FL. Once complete, the squadron began a rigorous transition to the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, the Navy's newest patrol and reconnaissance platform. Designated Safe-for-Flight 15 May 2020, the Fighting Marlins entered an Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle.

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