VP8 Alumni Association

Patrol Squadron Eight

* * * History and Documentation * * *


Patrol Squadron Eight


Patrol Squadron EIGHT (VP-8) was commissioned in September 1942 as Patrol Squadron 201 in Norfolk, Virginia. During World War II, VP-201 flew more than 28,000 hours in the sea-based PBM "Mariner" from Norfolk, Key West, Bermuda, and the Panama Canal Zone, combating German submarines that were threatening allied shipping throughout the Atlantic.

In June 1947, the squadron moved to Quonset Point, Rhode Island and began to operate the land-based P-2V "Neptune" aircraft. While transitioning to a new aircraft, the squadron was redesignated Medium Patrol Squadron EIGHT and in September 1948, the squadron received its current designation as Patrol Squadron EIGHT.

In 1950, VP-8 was awarded its first Battle "E". In March 1958, the squadron changed its homeport to Chincoteague, Virginia. Throughout the next two years, the squadron actively participated in the evolution of antisubmarine warfare, to include developing and evaluating new tactics and equipment. Their success in improving antisubmarine warfare was recognized with a second Battle "E" in 1960.

The VP-8 “Fighting Tigers” moved to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in July 1961. After relinquishing the last of its P-2Vs to the U. S. Naval Reserve in October 1962, VP-8 became the fleet's first operational P-3A "Orion" squadron.

Following extensive operations during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and detachment operations in Iceland, Ireland, Newfoundland, Bermuda, and Caribbean locations, the VP-8 “Tigers” were awarded their third Battle "E" and the Isbell Trophy for airborne ASW excellence.

The squadron's first deployment to the Western Pacific occurred in June 1966 when it deployed to Naval Station Sangley Point, Republic of the Philippines. During this deployment, VP-8 flew combat missions throughout Southeast Asia in support of the Vietnam War.

From 1969 to 1974, the squadron made numerous deployments to Bermuda. Patrol Squadron EIGHT was then transferred to its present homeport, Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine in July 1971.

In February 1976, the squadron returned to Brunswick after a split-site deployment to Rota, Spain and Lajes, Azores. As a result of their outstanding airborne ASW exploits throughout the Atlantic during this deployment, VP-8 received the Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.

From February through August 1978, the “Fighting Tigers” again conducted a split-site deployment to Bermuda and Lajes, Azores. Their outstanding achievements throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean AORs earned them the Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.

Patrol Squadron EIGHT ended the 1970’s with another split-site deployment to Rota and Lajes. From July until December 1979, the “Tigers” operated out of 12 different sites from the equator to Iceland and were awarded a second Meritorious Unit Commendation ribbon.

After successfully completing another Rota and Lajes split-site deployment in October 1980, Commander, Sixth Fleet awarded the “Tigers” the "Hook'em" Award in recognition of their exceptional ASW operations. VP-8 was the last Atlantic Fleet squadron to fly the P-3B aircraft.

During the early 1980s, Patrol Squadron EIGHT made numerous deployments to Bermuda and Sigonella, Sicily. These successful deployments earned the VP-8 “Tigers” their fourth Battle "E" Award, another Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy Expeditionary Medal, another Sixth Fleet "Hook'em" Award and the Navy Unit Commendation.

In the late 1980’s Patrol Squadron EIGHT again deployed to Rota and Lajes. VP-8's success during these deployments earned them their fourth Isbell Trophy, the third in ten years, and another Sixth Fleet "Hook'em" Award.

In December 1990, the squadron conducted operations in the Mediterranean in support of national interests. The “Tigers” also operated out of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM. This conflict re-emphasized the P-3C’s multi-mission capabilities while conducting coordinated operations with a Carrier Battle Group. In addition, the “Tigers” continued to prove their effectiveness against front line Soviet submarines in the Mediterranean and Atlantic and were awarded another "Hook'em" Award by Commander, Sixth Fleet. In recognition of their outstanding performance VP-8 was awarded its fifth Battle "E" in 1991.

In July 1992, Patrol Squadron EIGHT began a seven-month split-site deployment to Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico and Rota, Spain. Operating out of Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, the “Tigers” flew over 6,000 hours in support of counter-narcotic operations and of Sixth Fleet operations in the Mediterranean. This was done while operating out of several detachment sites that included Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Key West, Florida, Sigonella, Sicily and Lajes, Azores. The squadron returned to Brunswick in January 1993 after completing their second consecutive year of flying over 8,000 hours, the most hours in the Atlantic Fleet. This deployment marked the 30th anniversary of the Lockheed "Orion" and showcased its invaluable multi-mission versatility to the Navy and Joint Task Forces.

On 14 October 1993, VP-8 reached a historic milestone of 100,000 hours of accident-free flying.

Patrol Squadron EIGHT returned to Puerto Rico in January 1994 and established detachments at Howard AFB, Panama and Soto Cano, Honduras. They flew nearly 5,000 hours of counter-narcotic operations resulting in the seizure of 12,000 kilograms of cocaine and marijuana valued at over a quarter of a billion dollars.

In January 1995, Patrol Squadron EIGHT was awarded its first CINCLANTFLT Golden Anchor Award for outstanding performance for keeping sailors in the Navy. This also marked the first time a patrol squadron had won this prestigious award since 1985.

In January 1996, VP-8 returned from Sigonella where they flew more than 900 sorties and 6,000 hours in support of Operations SHARP GUARD and DECISIVE ENDEAVOR. VP-8 was once again recognized for their ASW prowess by being awarded the Isbell Trophy by Commander, Patrol Wings Atlantic.

During their 1997 deployment to Sigonella, Patrol Squadron EIGHT flew over 100 missions supporting Operation DELIBERATE GUARD, the United Nations’ peacekeeping effort in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Additionally, VP-8 conducted 42 missions in support of Operation SILVER WAKE resulting in the safe evacuation of 889 civilian personnel from Albania. In recognition of their outstanding efforts, Commander Naval Air Forces Atlantic awarded VP-8 their sixth Battle “E” and another Meritorious Unit Commendation.

The “Fighting Tigers” flew nearly 6,000 hours operating out of 18 countries during a tri-site deployment to Keflavik, Iceland, Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, and Howard AFB, Panama in 1998. In the Caribbean AOR, VP-8 flew 450 surveillance missions in support of counter-narcotic operations resulting in 13 arrests and the seizure of 11 metric tons of illegal drugs worth $171.4 million. Search and rescue efforts in the region accounted for 14 saved lives. Surface and sub-surface surveillance operations in the North Atlantic resulted in tracking 18 different submarines from eight different countries.

The return to NAS Brunswick in February 1999 marked another technological advancement milestone for VP-8 as it a transitioned to the new Aircraft Improvement Program (AIP) P-3 upgrade.

During their 2000 deployment, the “Tigers” flew over 545 missions consisting of 5300 hours out of Sigonella Sicily making maximum use of the P-3C AIP. They flew in support of Operations JOINT GUARDIAN, DETERMINED FORGE and DELIBERATE FORGE. In addition, Patrol Squadron EIGHT provided battle group support for the KENNEDY, EISENHOWER, and GEORGE WASHINGTON Strike Groups. Brunswick’s “Fighting Tigers” also participated in numerous exercises and evolutions throughout the Mediterranean AOR. VP-8 earned its seventh Battle “E” award for the year 2000.

While at NAS Brunswick for their year long Inter-Deployment Training Cycle, Patrol Squadron EIGHT diligently prepared for their next deployment, in which they would be split between NAS Keflavik, Iceland and NAS Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico.

Operating as PATRON Roosevelt Roads from August 2001 to February 2002, the squadron was active in counter-drug operations in the Caribbean. Primarily working with the Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and a Joint Task Force, the “Fighting Tigers” interdicted or disrupted $7.6 billion in illegal drugs, including over 28,000 kg of cocaine. PATRON Keflavik was also busy with the “Tigers” flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, NATO exercises, and Homeland Defense.

In February 2003, Patrol Squadron EIGHT deployed to Sigonella, Sicily and Souda Bay, Crete, with an inventory of five P-3C AIP and four Update III aircraft. The extraordinary planning, training, and execution by aircrews and maintenance personnel enabled the safe completion of more than 700 missions and 7500 flight hours. The “Fighting Tigers” surged to 14 aircraft with the addition of five wartime AIP assets to directly support IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF). At the onset of OIF in March, crews were already providing 24-hour P-3 support for the two Carrier Strike Groups in the Mediterranean. As lead MPR squadron for OIF, the Fighting TIGERS flew nearly 100 overland combat missions and over 4,000 flight hours during ENDURING and IRAQI FREEDOM. At one point in June, VP-8 operated simultaneously from five countries; Italy, Greece, Germany, Spain and Senegal. Although tasked with numerous demands, the “Fighting Tigers” performed flawlessly during a demanding split-site deployment that included participation in Operations JOINT GUARDIAN, DELIBERATE FORGE, ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM and JTF LIBERIA.

The squadron returned to NAS Brunswick in August of 2003. While at NAS Brunswick for their eighteen month long Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (IDTC), Patrol Squadron EIGHT worked tirelessly for their next deployment, which would take them to Misawa and Kadena, Japan. This would be the squadron's first deployment to the Western Pacific since 1966, when it deployed to Naval Station Sangley Point, Republic of the Philippines.

In June of 2004, Patrol Squadron EIGHT was awarded its eighth Battle Efficiency Award. The Battle “E” recognized the squadron’s sustained superior performance in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, JOINT GUARDIAN, DELIBERATE FORGE and JOINT TASK FORCE LIBERIA.

While on IDTC Tiger aircrews detached to various sites including: Jacksonville, Florida, in support of the 2004 Joint Task Exercise Force (JTFEX); Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in support of Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC); Sigonella, Sicily, in support of European Command (EUCOM); and Comalapa, El Salvador in support of Southern Command (SOCOM). The Fighting Tigers also sent a crew in support of the Kronborg Glacier, Greenland Photo Reconnaissance Mission.

In December of 2004, VP-8 deployed to Misawa, Japan and Kadena, Okinawa. Immediately after arriving on deployment, the squadron proceeded to execute missions throughout the region on various scheduled detachments and fulfilling real-time tasking requirements. However, the squadron was soon called upon to provide surveillance services in the aftermath of the December 26th tsunami disaster. Within hours of the tragedy, VP-8 repositioned eight aircraft to Utaphao, Thailand, and Diego Garcia, BIOT. The “Fighting Tigers” immediately flew Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HADR) missions and launched the first U.S. military aircraft on station in what was to become Operation UNIFIED ASSISTANCE as part of Combined Support Force 536. Providing specific information regarding locations of survivors, damaged communities, roads and bridges as well as landing zones for helicopters and cargo planes, VP-8 played the central role in effectively directing the relief effort. VP-8 flew nearly over 600 hours in continuing support of UNIFIED ASSISTANCE. Following the tsunami disaster, VP-8 continued to prove itself by participating in several joint exercises with many countries including Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, and Australia. These exercises were integral in improving interoperability and international cooperation in the Western Pacific. In addition to participation in exercises, VP-8 performed spectacularly in challenging and sensitive missions essential to the security of the region. Despite the high tempo of real-time tasking, VP-8 was always ready to respond to emergencies. In addition to the assistance provided following the tsunami, the “Fighting Tigers” were also first on the scene after the USS San Francisco ran aground, greatly increasing the morale of the imperiled crew and directing rescue efforts. Also, a Tiger aircrew located a Filipino fishing vessel that had been missing for nearly two weeks. This led to a successful recovery of the crew and the vessel. The “Fighting Tigers” returned home to Maine in June of 2005 after a challenging and rewarding deployment, and immediately began preparing for the next deployment in order to maintain the Tiger’s reputation for excellence in any situation.

During the Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle, VP-8 established a presence in the SOUTHCOM AOR by maintaining a crew in El Salvador to assist in counter drug operations. Positioned there from October to December of 2005, the Fighting Tigers proved to be a great asset in the war on drugs, successfully launching missions with little advance notice.

The extraordinary accomplishments of the “Fighting Tiger” team were acknowledged when VP-8 received the 2005 Captain Arnold Jay Isbell trophy. This award recognizes superior Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare squadrons, which is a distinction VP-8 clearly earned with substantial hard work and determination. This would not have been possible without a motivated and dedicated team of sailors to keep the “Fighting Tigers” at peak performance throughout the year. The squadron’s commitment to caring for its people helped VP-8 earn the coveted “Golden Anchor” award for 2005, an award given to units with exemplary retention rates.

In March of 2006, the Fighting Tigers gained the opportunity to participate in the USS Enterprise Composite Training Unit Exercise (C2X). C2X is an intermediate level exercise intended to increase cohesiveness and interoperability of a battle group that will allow them to successfully fight as a team. VP-8 detached several crews to NAS Jacksonville for the exercise providing support and demonstrating the versatility of the P-3C Orion in a tactical environment. The “Fighting Tigers” again proved their excellence by completing the exercise with an astounding 100% mission launch rate. Aircrews from VP-8 then participated in exercises Valiant Shield out of Anderson Air Force Base in Guam and RIMPAC at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Valiant Shield 2006 marked the largest joint exercise between all five of the United States armed services in recent history. RIMPAC brought together the navies of seven nations of the Pacific Rim and the United Kingdom to enhance the tactical proficiency of participating units in a wide array of combined operations at sea.

December of 2006 saw the “Fighting Tigers” deployed to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Upon arrival VP-8 took command of Task Group FIFTY SEVEN POINT TWO (CTG 57.2), the largest operational maritime patrol and reconnaissance organization in the Navy consisting of 22 aircrews and 21 aircraft. While operating out of Al Udeid and two other detachment sites, the 22 combat aircrews of CTG 57.2 conducted a variety of missions including Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) flights over Iraq in support of troops on the ground. In addition to flying overland in Iraq, “Fighting Tiger” crews performed maritime patrol missions throughout the CENTCOM area of operations to ensure maritime security and provide intelligence to theater commanders. Patrol Squadron EIGHT was also able to exercise the traditional Anti-Submarine Warfare mission of the P-3C by maintaining two aircrews in the Western Pacific in support of Patrol Squadron Four’s deployment to the Seventh Fleet AOR.

In July of 2007 the Fighting Tigers returned home to NAS Brunswick at the end of their successful deployment and began an availability period for surge detachments and training for future deployments.

In August 2007 crews were detached to Al Udeid Air Base in support of operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet and in November of 2007 two crews were detached to NAS Sigonella, Italy in support of operations in the 6th Fleet AOR. In early 2008 the Fighting Tigers were named as the recipients of the 2007 Battle Efficiency Award, The 2007 Golden Wrench Award for Maintenance excellence, and the 2007 NAS Brunswick Captains Cup Champions.

The “Fighting Tigers” have performed at a high level without sacrificing safety standards and have continued to log mishap free flight hours?over 175,000 since 1978. Patrol Squadron EIGHT's accomplishments have earned them worldwide respect and recognition. The professionalism of every squadron member serves as a reminder to all of VP-8's dedication to excellence and service to the nation.

P-3C Antisubmarine Warfare Aircraft

P-3C Orion long range ASW aircraft Description Four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.
Features Originally designed as a land-based, long-range, anti-submarine warfare (ASW) patrol aircraft, the P-3C's mission has evolved in the late 1990s and early 21st century to include surveillance of the battlespace, either at sea or over land. Its long range and long loiter time have proved invaluable assets during Operation Iraqi Freedom as it can view the battlespace and instantaneously provide that information to ground troops, especially U.S. Marines. The P-3C has advanced submarine detection sensors such as directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoys and magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) equipment. The avionics system is integrated by a general purpose digital computer that supports all of the tactical displays, monitors and automatically launches ordnance and provides flight information to the pilots. In addition, the system coordinates navigation information and accepts sensor data inputs for tactical display and storage. The P-3C can carry a mixed payload of weapons internally and on wing pylons.
Background The P-3 Orion has been the Navy’s frontline, land-based maritime patrol aircraft since the 1960s. The most capable Orion version is the P-3C, first delivered to the Navy in 1969. The Navy implemented a number of major improvements to the P-3C (Updates I, II, II.5 and III) during its production run. P-3C aircraft communication, navigation, acoustic, non-acoustic and ordnance/weapon systems are still being modernized within several improvement programs to satisfy Navy and joint requirements through the early part of the 21st century. Current modernization programs include installation of a modernized communications suite, Protected Instrument Landing System, IFF Mode S and Required Navigation Performance Area Navigation, GPS, common avionics improvements and modernized cockpit instrumentation. The USQ-78(V) Upgrade Program is improving the USQ-78(V) Single Advanced Signal Processor system Display Control Unit, a programmable system control processor that provides post processing of acoustic data and is the main component of the Update III acoustic configuration. Up to 100 P-3C aircraft are being upgraded to USQ-78B configuration with System Controller (SC) and Acoustic Sub Unit (ASU) Tech Refreshes. In addition, all analog acoustic data recorders are being replaced with digital data recorders. The Critical Obsolescence Program (COP) began in fiscal year 2004 to improve aircraft availability through replacement of obsolete and/or top degrader systems. COP systems include the ARC-230 HF as replacement for the ARC-161, the USQ-130 Data Link as replacement for the ACQ-5, the ASW-60 Autopilot as replacement for the ASW-31, the ASX-6 Multi-Mode Imaging System (MMIS) as replacement for the AAS-36 IRDS and the Telephonics Secure Digital Intercommunications System (SDI) as replacement for the AIC-22 ICS. The Navy has shifted the P-3C’s operational emphasis to the littoral regions and is improving the antisurface warfare (ASUW) capabilities of the P-3C. The antisurface warfare improvement program (AIP) incorporates enhancements in ASUW, over-the-horizon targeting (OTH-T) and command, control, communications and intelligence (C4I), and improves survivability. The AIP program presently includes 72 kits on contract; 69 aircraft have been delivered to the fleet as of September 2006. Upgrades to the armament system include the addition of the AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER missile and Mk54 torpedo capabilities. P-3 mission systems sustainment, necessary to ensure the P-3 remains a viable warfighter until P-8A Poseidon achieves full operational capability (FOC), include acoustic processing upgrades through air acoustic rapid COTS insertion (ARCI) and tech refreshes, mission systems obsolescence management, and the upgrade of P-3 tactical communications and networking through over-the-horizon C4I international marine/maritime satellite (INMARSAT). The ongoing P-3C airframe sustainment program inspects and repairs center and outer wings while reducing Fleet inventory to the mandated 130 aircraft by 2010. The P-3C fleet has experienced significant fatigue degradation over its operational life as quantified through the Service Life Assessment Program (SLAP). The Navy has instituted special structural inspections programs and replacement kits to refurbish aircraft structures to sustain airframe life. The 12 active patrol squadrons (down from 24 in 1991) operate P-3C AIP and Update III configured aircraft. Other P-3 variants still in service include one VP-3A executive transport, four NP-3C and eight NP-3D research and development, testing and evaluation and oceanographic survey aircraft. Numerous countries also fly the P-3 Orion, making it one of the more prevalent Navy aircraft available for foreign military sales and support.

General Characteristics, P-3C Orion

Primary Function: Antisubmarine warfare(ASW)/Antisurface warfare (ASUW).
Contractor: Lockheed Martin Aeronautical Systems Company.
Date Deployed: First flight, November 1959; Operational, P-3A August 1962 and P-3C August 1969.
Unit Cost: $36 million.
Propulsion: Four Allison T-56-A-14 turboprop engines (4,600 hp each) FONT>
Length: 116.7 feet.
Height: 33.7 feet.
Wingspan: 99.6 feet
Weight: Maximum takeoff, 139,760 pounds
Airspeed: Maximum, 411 knots; cruise, 328 knots.
Ceiling: 28,300 feet.
Range: Mission radius, 2,380 nautical miles; for three hours on-station at 1,500 feet, 1,346 nautical miles.
Crew: (P-3C) three pilots, two naval flight officers, two flight engineers, three sensor operators, one in-flight technician.
Armament: 20,000 pounds of ordnance, including AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-84E SLAM, AGM-84H/K and AGM-65F Maverick missiles, Mk46/50/54.

Memoirs from Bill Thomas
VP8 1956-58

Memoirs from Bob Hogg
VP8 1956-1960

VP8 Flight Crew Members 1957
VP8 page from 1960 Dope Sheet




This page updated on: June 24, 2018