By Lt. j.g. Andrew Staley, Patrol Squadron 46 Public Affairs
Dynamic, dynamic, dynamic. Without a doubt, “dynamic” describes how the last two years have been for the Grey Knight family of Patrol Squadron (VP) 46.
In less than 24 months, the Grey Knights have been on the grind to truly embody their heritage and carry forward the title of “Oldest and the Best.” Their dedication and hard work have enabled VP-46 to successfully arrive on station in the U.S. Sixth Fleet for its maiden P-8 deployment.
Once checking off station in the U.S. 5th Fleet and traveling back home to NAS Whidbey Island in 2019, the Grey Knights were relieved but had a giant feat ahead: P-3 to P-8 Transition. Not long after arriving home, VP-46 hit the road once again. The destination was VP-30 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville to transition to an entirely new platform; this was no small venture, as VP-46 would uproot everything they had groomed for decades and plant a new tree of knowledge in the short span of just a few months.
Armed with this newly acquired knowledge, the Grey Knights headed back home for 12 months, honing these new skills while maintaining their duties in the Pacific. The Grey Knights carried themselves with Strength and Honor through multiple evaluations, detachments, and exercises. This included the Advanced Readiness Program, a fleet-wide Composite Training Unit Exercise; Homeland Defense in Hawaii; Rim of the Pacific, the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise; multiple torpedo exercises, a thorough maintenance inspection; a NATOPS inspection; and standing “The Ready” to keep our waters safe. Throughout this time, VP-46 also conducted three changes of command.
This was all accomplished during the COVID-19 global pandemic, which presented its own unique challenges. Through adaptability and flexibility, the Grey Knight family was able to endure these dynamic challenges and gear up in preparation for their inaugural P-8A Poseidon deployment to U.S. Sixth Fleet at NAS Sigonella in Sicily, Italy. The Grey Knights worked with the Italian government and other foreign country governments to ensure VP-46 is meeting or exceeding all U.S. and host nation coronavirus restrictions and mitigations. This includes testing for the coronavirus, wearing masks, physical distancing, and restriction of movement as necessary to ensure the health and safety of all.
Spanning a successful 5th Fleet deployment to now operating throughout the Sixth Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR), the Grey Knights have repeatedly shown why they carry the title of “The Oldest and the Best.” As the Pioneers of Maritime Patrol, VP-46 overcame unparalleled obstacles and accomplished them with distinction. After many months of maintaining readiness and conquering countless administrative hurdles, the Grey Knights have checked on station and are prepared to support global maritime security and maintain safe waters in this AOR in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.