By Lt. j.g. John Waters
VP-8 Public Affairs Officer
The final plane carrying the "Fighting Tigers" of Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 arrived at Naval Air Station Jacksonville Oct. 4, ending their six-month deployment with Commander, Task Force (CTF) 72. Flying out of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, VP-8 supported myriad U.S. and Allied units throughout the Western Pacific Theater, including aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74).
The Fighting Tigers arrived home having opened a new chapter in the squadron's history -- by completing their inaugural deployment in the Boeing P-8A Poseidon, one of the latest aircraft in the Navy's warfighting arsenal.
"The P-8A is an extremely capable and smooth platform" said Lt. Chris Leger, a pilot with VP-8. "I felt fortunate to have had the opportunity to operate one of the Navy's most sophisticated aircraft on our deployment in Japan.
Over the course of their 2016 operational deployment, 12 Combat Aircrews (CACs) went as far West as Diego Garcia, conducting a medevac for a submariner requiring immediate medical attention, and as far East as the Micronesia Island chain where they assisted the 14th U.S. Coast Guard District in the search and rescue of two stranded mariners on an uninhabited island.
"I couldn't be more proud of the performance of the Fighting Tigers on this 7th Fleet deployment both on and off duty. Our Sailors successfully executed every mission on this capable aircraft with professionalism and precision," said Cmdr. Christopher Wood, VP-8 commanding officer.
VP-8 executed 15 detachments from seven countries in the Western Pacific where they participated in bilateral exercises with military personnel from several partner nations including Australia, France, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and South Korea. Additionally, VP-8 was hosted by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF) where they conducted aircraft familiarization flights and participated in coordinated ASW training.
While deployed, VP-8 provided invaluable support to U.S. interests in the Pacific, and completed 608 sorties totaling 3,568 flight hours. With a 100 percent mission completion rate on their inaugural P-8A deployment, VP-8 set a high bar for future deployments.
"It was inspirational to see the Sailors of this Command perform so magnificently throughout six months of challenging and dynamic operations. I'm thrilled to get our Tigers home safely to their loved ones," said. Wood.