NEWS | April 21, 2021

VP 9 Search and Rescue Kit Loading Training

By VP-9 Public Affairs

Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 “Golden Eagles” held a search and rescue (SAR) UNI-PAC II Air-Drop Survival Kit  loading demonstration for the Royal Air Force (RAF) CXX Squadron, April 15, 2020. The VP-9 Aviation Ordnance team went through all the steps teaching the RAF team how to properly load and install the SAR kit on the P-8A Poseidon maritime aircraft.

“We use the same exact equipment so if we were ever in a situation and we had to make a joint load team, it would go exceptionally smooth,” said Lt. j.g. Wesley Blyleven, VP-9 Aviation Ordnance division officer.   “Our checklist, which gives us step-by-step instructions on how to load ordnance/stores, are remarkably similar,” added Blyeven.

The Lossiemouth RAF maritime squadron is still building their fleet of P-8A Poseidon aircrafts. CXX Squadron is the first to operate the Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft in the RAF. The squadron will receive their first SAR kit in June 2022.

This is the first time the CXX Squadron ordnance team has received this training.

 “It is still a new aircraft to them and they’re a long way behind us in terms of practices that are used and are still working out a lot of kinks that the U.S. has already worked through,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class Gregory Turman.

The SAR kit, has an 8-man life raft with survival items. It weighs 107 pounds, and it’s used is for over water and over land mishaps.

The function of the SAR kit: A static line is connected from the kit to the aircraft. Upon kit release and activation of the static line, parachutes deploy which decelerate the kit, extract 450 feet of floating retrieval line with water activated lights, extract the life raft, activate the raft inflator, and bring all the survival items safely to the surface.

“There are many similarities and differences between the U.S. and UK maritime squadrons. The biggest difference between the U.S. and the RAF P-8 Aviation Ordnancemen is they do everything when it comes to the MK-54 Torpedo,” said Blyleven. “They were extremely welcoming and I think both of our teams learned a lot and I wanted to give a huge thank you to Chief Technician Owen McAlister and his team for coming out to join VP-9 during our pro-load.”

VP-9 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.

U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, 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.