By Lt. j. g. Bryan Rallet, VP-16 Public Affairs
The U.S. Ambassador to Iceland, Jeffrey Ross Gunter, joined Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 onboard Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, to discuss the role of the squadron in northern European theater, June 23, 2020.
Gunter reiterated his adamant support of the squadron's mission in the region, including the Arctic, and took a genuine interest in the Sailors' backgrounds and personal stories during his visit.
"[It has been] a tremendous day with our brave P-8 patriots working tirelessly to keep the High North peaceful, democratic, and free," said Gunter. "We stand in the same hangar that welcomed Vice President Mike Pence less than a year ago. His message is our message, and it rings loud and clear: a free, democratic, sustainable, and strong Arctic is the future. And you all, the P-8 patriots, are the protectors of that vision in Iceland and the High North. God bless you all!"
The squadron extended their sincere gratitude to Icelandic Capt. Jon Gudnason and the Landhelgisgæsla Íslands, or Icelandic Coast Guard, for their unwavering support of VP-16’s critical mission. The Icelandic peoples’ support of the rotational P-8 Poseidon aircraft is an integral part of the NATO partnership between the U.S. and Iceland.
"It was a pleasure to meet Ambassador Gunter," said Lt. Cmdr. Emile Hawkins, VP-16 officer in charge in Iceland. "His overt display of enthusiasm for the VP-16 Sailors and our mission was reassuring and motivating for our crew. We know we have the U.S. Embassy’s and the Icelandic Coast Guard’s support to operate here in Iceland."
Hawkins was joined by other VP-16 members to include Lt. Rick Beaman, Lt. Richard Hutyra, Lt. j. g. Emily Brown, and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick Birney.
The P-8A Poseidon is a multi-mission capable replacement aircraft for the legacy P-3C Orion. Designed to secure the Navy’s future in long-range maritime patrol capability, the P-8A Poseidon has had a large impact on the Navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance force.
VP-16 remains engaged, postured, and ready with credible force to assure, deter, and defend in an increasingly complex security environment.
VP-16 is currently forward-deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations and is assigned to commander, Task Force (CTF) 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout Europe and Africa.
CTF 67′s official mission is to provide responsive, interoperable, and expeditionary combat ready maritime patrol aircraft and supporting forces to commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa and commander, U.S. 6th Fleet (CNE-CNA/C6F), NATO, and Unified Commanders to conduct effective Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), maintain Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), enhance regional stability, promote cooperative maritime safety and security, and be decisive while conducting overseas contingency operations.
CNE-CNA/C6F, headquartered in Naples, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.