By Lt.j.g. Ridgely Riggs, VP-5 Public Affairs
Four months into deployment and still going strong, the ‘Mad Foxes’ of Patrol Squadron (VP) 5 dispatched an aircraft to Naval Station Rota to participate in an anti-submarine warfare exercise, one of many the squadron has taken part in since departing from Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville in the fall of 2017. The talented aviators, flight officers, and sensor operators of Combat Air Crew (CAC) 4 departed early morning on Jan. 19 from NAS Sigonella, where VP-5 is currently deployed in support of U.S. 6th Fleet operations.
Upon arrival at Rota, the crew wasted no time preparing for the subsequent flight events. The first mission flown was a training flight involving the employment of an expendable mobile ASW training target (EMATT). An EMATT is a small torpedo-shaped device that travels through the water and mimics the acoustic signatures and movements of a submarine. EMATTs are deployable through the P-8A’s sonobuoy launch system (SLS) and provide valuable training for the crew.
“Our training syllabus is thorough,” said Naval Aircrewman 2nd Class Lawrence Rosado. “But hours in the books have a diminishing return after a certain point. Training opportunities like these are what truly allow us to hone our skills and learn to work effectively as a crew.”
The crew then flew multiple missions to practice operations against an actual submarine. A U.S. submarine assumed the role of an adversary vessel for the duration of the exercise. Accompanied by a Spanish warship and a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, with its onboard helicopter, CAC-4 skillfully employed the aircraft in prosecution of the submarine. Once gaining contact, the crew demonstrated its tactical proficiency by executing simulated attacks.
“We were enthusiastic about this detachment opportunity before arriving here, and I can safely say our experience was no disappointment,” mentioned Lt. Sean Conkle. “We experienced first-hand the professionalism of our allies on the Iberian Peninsula and it’s comforting to know they’re both willing and very able to hunt submarines.”