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Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven
Commissioned on Aug. 15, 1942, at Norfolk, Va., Patrol Wing Eleven relocated five days later to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to provide support for allied shipping convoys in the Navy’s Caribbean Sea Frontier. As the Navy overcame Germany’s Atlantic/Caribbean U-boat campaign, Wing Eleven PBY-5Ns patrolled 1 million square miles of ocean, providing spotting and assistance to scores of wounded allied ships and sinking 10 German submarines while damaging 18 others.
During the post-World War II drawdown, Wing Eleven in 1950 shifted homeport to NAS Jacksonville and transitioned to the P-2V Neptune. Throughout the decade, Wing Eleven squadrons continued to patrol vast areas in support of long-range reconnaissance and fleet exercises. Operational commitments grew as the Cold War intensified and maritime patrol aviation (MPA) continued to refine warfighting competencies in antisubmarine warfare, aerial mine warfare, search and rescue and aerial photographic intelligence.
MPA excellence continued in the 1960s with Wing Eleven aircraft on station for the recovery of our first astronauts and in support of President Kennedy’s quarantine of Cuba at the height of the 1962 Missile Crisis. By 1970, Wing Eleven squadrons had transitioned to the P-3 Orion. In the years that followed, Wing Eleven squadrons recorded thousands of hours “on top” of Soviet submarines in Cold War operations from Greenland, Iceland, Bermuda, Ascension, the Canary and Azores Islands and bases throughout the Mediterranean.
Wing Eleven units met the challenge of the immediate post Cold War period, supporting Operation Desert Shield/Storm, establishing an airborne presence during the Balkan wars of the 1990s and supporting counter narcotics efforts in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Navy formally recognized the close link between VP and VQ missions in 1998, bringing Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron Two into Wing Eleven and amending the command name to Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven.
Wing Eleven units continue to excel in multi-mission roles. The P-3 Aircraft Improvement Program delivers traditional maritime capabilities, real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and Standoff Land Attack Missile capability to theater and fleet commanders. Wing Eleven units proved their continued relevance and vitality during operations over Kosovo in 1999 and in subsequent stabilization efforts there.
The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, signaled a new focus for Wing Eleven units. In addition to traditional missions, units supported homeland defense and the global war on terrorism in Operations Vigilant Shield and Enduring Freedom respectively. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Wing Eleven’s VP-45 was the first East Coast squadron to establish a permanent detachment site in Iraq, flying combat missions in direct support of the troops on the ground. Additionally, supporting Department of Defense initiatives, Wing Eleven transferred administrative control of VQ-2 to Wing Ten in Whidbey Island, Wash. Wing Eleven’s patrol squadrons include VP-5, VP-8, VP-10, VP-16, VP-26 and VP-45. A patrol squadron is a diverse element of the United States Navy that performs a wide array of missions and provides a valuable asset for the Fleet. It serves as the eyes and ears of the United States Navy.
Patrol squadrons also serve as a strategic deterrent to crisis and conflict and when called, closely monitor adversaries around the world. Furthermore, they provide valuable information required by theater commanders to support decisions regarding possible courses of action.
The diverse service of maritime patrol requires that it perform such tasks as anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, offensive and defensive mine delivery, sea surveillance and maritime intelligence collection, coastal and overland reconnaissance, targeting for strikes, counter-drug detection and monitoring, electronic warfare, battle damage assessment, and search and rescue.