By Clark Pierce

In a prelude to their upcoming P-8A Safe for Flight (SFF) inspection, the VP-45 "Pelicans" successfully completed their Conventional Weapons Training Proficiency Inspection (CWTPI) Jan. 30 at NAS Jacksonville Hangar 511.

Inspectors from Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) -11 Weapons School judged the proficiency of both aviation electronics technicians (AT) and aviation ordnancemen (AO) through the process of wire-checking, uploading and downloading ordnance, such as torpedoes and chaff, on the P-8A aircraft.

VP-45 Commanding Officer Cmdr. John Brabazon was impressed. "According to the out-brief, our people in work center 230 well exceeded expectations. Their pride and professionalism really helped knock this inspection out of the park," he said.

Brabazon added that CWTPI is the first inspection in the lead-up to SFF, scheduled for the week of Feb. 24.

"Upon attaining SFF, we can begin flight operations in support of CPRW-11 objectives, that may include Exercise BALTOPS in northern Europe, and Exercise RIMPAC in the waters surrounding Hawaii. The Pelicans will fly the only P-8A asset in these exercises designed to enhance interoperability between the U.S. Navy and our allies."

VP-45 Executive Officer Cmdr. T.J. Grady said, "Our P-8A transition began in July 2013 as we followed the footsteps of VP-16 and VP-5. Until now, we've flown with our great training partners at VP-30. But when we reach our SFF milestone, we'll be operating under our own recognizance."

VP-45 Command Master Chief (CMDCM) Tom Ayers said,"SFF inspectors will look at our P-8A Maintenance program, with a deep focus on maintenance control and quality assurance. Our Sailors have really embraced the Poseidon and broken training thresholds to attain qualifications at a rapid pace."

"From SFF, we move right into our 12-month Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle. The men and women of VP-45 are ecstatic to be part of this history making transition to the P-8A Poseidon. It's the fourth maritime patrol airframe the Pelicans have transitioned to since 1942, including the P5M Marlin, the P2V Neptune and the P-3 Orion," stated Brabazon.

Up to this point, our Sailors have exceeded their training objectives - but now they're absolutely hungry to return to an operational status. So, let the IDRC begin."

AE2 Ryan Fisher likes working on the new platform.

"There's a lot less 'wire chasing' troubleshooting on the Poseidon. It's much more automated and user friendly for maintainers. If we run into an unusual problem, we can consult with a VP-30 or Boeing training representative to find a solution. Our work center is ready to work at our normal operating capacity. It'll be great when our second Poseidon arrives in April."

AD2 Catherine Larkin is a plane captain (PC) in the VP-45 line shack.

"Being a PC requires a general base of knowledge about the entire aircraft and the maintainers who work on it. We take care of the squadron's P-8A support equipment, check fuel for contamination, perform daily, turnaround and pre-flight inspections. PCs also provide move crews, in addition to the launch and recovery of the aircraft."

AO2 Jamaal Davis led one of the two load teams in the CWTPI.

"These are young Sailors who performed in a stellar manner. We loaded MK46 torpedoes and our ALE-47 chaff-flare countermeasures system with zero discrepancies and no hits."

VP-45 by the numbers

(as of Jan. 30)

Pelican aircrew professionals:

NATOPS qualifications earned by 19 pilots, 21 naval flight officers, 14 acoustic warfare operators, and 9 electronic warfare operators.

Total training events executed: 2,157 (497 flight events, 1,660 simulator events)

Pelican maintenance professionals:

95 Qualified Proficient Apprentice

67 Qualified Proficient Journeyman

33 Collateral Duty Inspectors

Two Collateral Duty Quality Assurance Representatives

Eight Quality Assurance Representatives

Seven Plane Captains