By Patrol Squadron 46 Public Affairs
The maintenance department of Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 keeps P8-A maritime and patrol and reconnaissance aircraft flying in support of U.S. Sixth Fleet, ensuring access to the global commons.
TheVP-46 Grey Knight Maintenance teams are responsive, interoperable, and expeditionary nature facilitates operations from Djibouti, Iceland, Italy, and United Kingdom, achieving maritime security through sustained, forward naval presence.
For the last three months now, VP-46 has operated at the forefront of maritime security in the Northern Atlantic.
As the backbone of the squadron, the Grey Knight maintenance team proactively and efficiently, that sustains operations around the clock to ensure the safety and security of international waters. Maintenance serves as the foundation for all flight operations, before aircraft can launch, they must be cleared safe for flight and for the mission.
“There is no finer maintenance department in the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force,” said Capt. E. P. Osborne, Patrol and Reconnaissance (CPRW) 10 Commodore. “Characterized by mission accomplishment, quality performance and safe operations.”
Prior to embarking on the historic Grey Knight inaugural P-8A deployment, the VP-46 maintenance team consistently showcased their drive for excellence and a hunger for success. This is reflected in their numerous achievements:
All of these accomplishments were achieved while the squadron prepared for the first P-8A dual-site deployment for a newly transitioned squadron. Although no small venture, fraught with many challenges, the Grey Knight maintenance team persevered across both U.S. Fifth and Sixth Fleets.
Preparing for the deployment, the maintenance team restructured a former detachment site in Lajes, Portugal. This included building a robust maintenance hangar out of an warehouse with no conventional means of internet connectivity or communication outlets. This feat was accomplished within days of arrival and set a precedent for adaptability. Immediately following the establishment of comfortable working environment, the Grey Knight maintenance team packed up and relocated, establishing a systematic maintenance program at a new detachment sight in Lossiemouth, Scotland.
“We completed a pack-out and re-detachment within a 12-hour notice to the inaugural detachment sight at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lossiemouth,” said Lt. Taylor Haun, VP-46 maintenance material control officer. “Maintainers went right back on shift upon arrival, prior to even unpacking. Extremely expeditious!”
The Grey Knight’s dedication and ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles will have lasting effects for future operational success in RAF Lossiemouth, including strengthening partnerships with RAF United Kingdom P-8A aircrew and maintenance teams.
Throughout all these efforts, the maintenance department has managed the supply chain effectively to support operations in this dynamic theater. The Grey Knight maintenance department improvised and overcame bottlenecks due to COVID-19 without any lapse in workflow.
With help from a global supply network from Isa, Bahrain, to Misawa, Japan, including the conventional logistical outlets in the United States, VP-46 has been able to keep aircraft operational, meeting or exceeding fleet standard completion times for eight Scheduled Maintenance Inspections.
Maintenance remains the front-line for VP-46 mission readiness. All aircraft remain flight-ready and mission capable, which further emphasizes the critical role maintainers provide towards operational readiness.
“By their steadfast professionalism and their actions, Grey Knight Maintainers routinely demonstrate why they should be universally regarded among the elite post-transition units in all of MPRA,” Cmdr. Clay Waddill, VP-46 commanding officer.
As they approach the mid-point of their deployment, the Grey Knight maintenance department consistently demonstrates their ingenuity, versatility, and expeditionary responsiveness. VP-46 is currently forward-deployed to the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations and is assigned to Commander, Task Force 67, responsible for tactical control of deployed maritime patrol and reconnaissance squadrons throughout Europe and Africa.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts a full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national security interests and stability in Europe and Africa.