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Patrol Squadron Forty-Five

Patrol Squadron Forty-Five

Patrol Squadron Forty-Five (VP-45) was initially commissioned Patrol Squadron Two Zero Five (VP-205) on Nov. 1, 1942, at NAS Norfolk, Va. 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. 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. 

In September 1963, VP-45 established detachments at NAS Patuxent River, Md., and NAS Jacksonville to commence transition to the P-3A Orion aircraft. On Jan. 1, 1964, the squadron changed homeport to NAS Jacksonville and became part of Fleet Air Wing Eleven. VP-45 was fully operational in the P-3A by May 1964. 

In December 1968, VP-45 departed NAS Jacksonville 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. 

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 more than 3,500 flight hours. The squadron was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for its participation during the Jordanian situation. 

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. 

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 6,000 flight hours during the five-month deployment. In September 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 more than 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 more than 5,000 hours with a 98 percent sortie completion rate. The sorties flown supported 18 detachments from 10 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 Meditteranean, 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. VP-45’s deployment encompassed more than 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. It 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. 

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 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 16 countries throughout the deployment, the Pelicans flew more than 3,800 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 more than 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 more than 5,200 hours mishap-free 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. 

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