By LTJG Patrick Kaczka VP-40 Public Affairs Officer
The “Laging Handa” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 40 has started their deployment to the U.S. Sixth Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR) in support of maritime security operations and of NATO Allies and partners, April, 28, 2021.
“Laging Handa”- the squadron motto that is Tagalog for “Always Ready” – is alive and at the core of every service member assigned to the “Fighting Marlins” of Patrol Squadron 40 (VP-40).
The Fighting Marlins began a landmark deployment in April 2021, tactically operating the P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for the first time in squadron history, and also supporting U.S. Sixth Fleet for the first time in decades. Additionally, it is a landmark deployment for the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Community, as it marks the culmination of the active duty transition of all 12 squadrons from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon.
The Fighting Marlins were the last active duty Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force squadron to undergo aircraft transition, a process that started in Jacksonville, Florida with VP-16 in 2012 and concluded in Whidbey Island, Washington with VP-40. VP-40’s transformation to P-8A began in November 2019 under the instruction of VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida and consisted of extensive ground and flight instruction, testing, and evaluation for combat air crews and maintenance personnel.
In May 2020, the Fighting Marlins completed a uniquely challenging transition, one that saw normal travel and operations halted by the COVID-19 global pandemic, then began the task of building and training 12 combat-ready aircrews, ready to surge worldwide at a moment’s notice.
This display of turning adversity into opportunity set the tone for VP-40’s preparation for deployment to the Sixth Fleet AOR the following year. Within a month of completing transition, United States Pacific Command called for P-8A operations in Alaska and the Fighting Marlins answered the call, sending all of their formed and qualified P-8A crews while still building additional crews in Whidbey.
Along with VP-4 and VP-9, VP-40 crews completed multiple detachments to the North Pacific, executing operational tasking and holding the Pacific Northwest Homeland Defense ready for nearly two months. Upon the conclusion of those operations, VP-40 again detached crews, aircraft and maintainers to Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii to stand the watch for the Pacific Homeland Defense ready. While there, crews conducted multiple training and operational Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare missions in support of Commander Third Fleet, and Search and Rescue missions in support of United States Coast Guard District 14.
These detachments, along with coordinated and individual training exercises at home in Whidbey Island, continued to hone the Fighting Marlins’ agility and tactical acumen as the squadron geared up for deployment.
Since arriving in theater in April of 2021, VP-40 conducted exercise detachments out of Keflavik, Iceland and Rota, Spain in addition to supporting operational missions out of Sigonella, Sicily under Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Task Force 67.
Much more lies ahead, and the Marlins are excited to take on the challenges of operating in a dynamic environment. “Laging Handa,” as stated boldly at the top of the squadron logo, signifies the resilient, agile, and lethal mindset that enables VP-40 Sailors to be “Always Ready” and prepared to support combat missions worldwide.
VP-40 is concurrently serving under CTF 67 performing maritime patrol and reconnaissance missions throughout Central and South American, European, and African theaters. The P-8A Poseidon provides the fleet with essential information from operations supporting both peace and conflict.
U.S. Naval Forces 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.