Patrol Squadron 30 (VP-30), the “Pro’s Nest,” is the U.S. Navy’s single-site Maritime Patrol Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS). Its mission is to provide aircraft-specific training for naval aviators, naval flight officers, and enlisted aircrewmen prior to reporting to the Fleet. VP-30, now the Navy’s largest aviation squadron with more than 1,100 members, trains more than 700 officer and enlisted personnel annually. In addition, foreign military personnel from Germany, Pakistan, Norway, Netherlands, Japan, Thailand, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, and Australia have received training from the staff of the “Pro’s Nest.”
Commissioned in June 1960 at NAS Jacksonville, Florida, VP-30 trained flight crews for P-5 Marlin and P-2 Neptune aircraft. In June 1963, VP-30 Detachment Alfa was formed at Patuxent River, Maryland to begin training in the newly introduced P-3 Orion. Growth of VP-30 Detachment Alfa soon became significant enough that the squadron homeport was changed to NAS Patuxent River in 1966.
Flight operations continued at NAS Jacksonville until P-2 aircraft were phased out of service in December 1968. June 1969 marked the beginning of P-3C training with its computerized data processing equipment. In 1970, VP-30 assumed training for P-3 maintenance personnel with the Fleet Readiness Aviation Maintenance Program (FRAMP). From March-August 1975, the squadron returned to its present homeport of NAS Jacksonville. In August 1991 the command was designated a major shore command as the Maritime Patrol Community Fleet Replacement Squadron. In addition, a Squadron Augment Unit was established at VP-30 as part of the Active Reserve Integration to support FRS training and production. After acceptance of its first Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft in March 2012, VP-30 has been training officers, enlisted aircrewmen, and enlisted maintenance personnel on the new airframe, transitioning nine of 12 active squadrons, while concurrently maintaining training requirements as the P-3 FRS. In 2014, VP-30 began developing a cadre of instructors and maintenance professionals to train operators on the MC-4C Triton, Maritime Patrol Aviation’s new persistent, high-altitude, long endurance Unmanned Air System.
Since its establishment in 1960, VP-30 has epitomized professionalism and excellence in naval aviation. This has been the Command’s trademark, largely due to the rigorous process to screen ground and flight instructors nominated for assignment to the “Pro’s Nest” for vast Fleet operational experience. Those selected undergo an extensive Instructor Under Training (IUT) syllabus to ensure the highest standards are maintained. VP-30 ensures the Fleet receives safe and competent replacement pilots, naval flight officers, aircrewmen, and maintenance technicians.
The “Pro’s Nest” provides post-FRS training to the Fleet as well. In 1998, VP-30 formed the P-3 Weapons Tactics Unit (WTU) to provide Fleet-wide training on topics including advanced tactics, weapon system employment, and combat threat training. The WTU became the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Weapon School in 2003 which became its own shore command in 2014. The “Pro’s Nest” continues to evolve in order to meet the needs of the Fleet as the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Community transitions to newer, more advanced platforms.
Patrol Squadron 30’s awards include three Navy Meritorious Unit Commendations; United States Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation with Operational Distinguishing Device for participating in the 1985-1986 Winter Law Enforcement Operation; the 1971, 1983, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2015 CNO Safety Award; the 1995, 1999, 2000, and 2001 CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award for retention; the 2010, 2015, and 2016 U.S. Fleet Forces Command Retention Excellence Award; and the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 Medical Blue “M” Award. VP-30 was honored to receive the 2008, 2013, and 2016 Golden Wrench Award and the 2010 DEFY Fulcrum Shield Award. The squadron was awarded the 2005, 2006, 2013, and 2015 CDR T. G. Ellyson Aviator Production Excellence Award as the best Fleet Replacement Squadron in Naval Aviation. In June 2017, the squadron surpassed 52 years and 507,000 Class “A” mishap free flight hours, a Naval Aviation record.