Golden Swordsmen return from successful deployment

The “Golden Swordsmen” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 returned to their new home at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on March 9 after a successful dual-site deployment.

VP-47 was deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan, and to the U.S. 4th Fleet AOR at Comalapa, El Salvador since September 2016. The squadron sent detachments to the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, the Republic of Djibouti, Curacao, the Kingdom of Thailand, and the Republic of the Philippines.

The Golden Swordsmen flew 503 sorties, accumulating 2,822 flight hours with a 94 percent mission completion rate over the 6-month deployment, and were key participants in several multilateral exercises, including Invincible Spirit 2016, Sea Survex 2017-1, and Keen Sword 2017. They also provided critical humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support in New Zealand following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake Nov. 14.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the Golden Swordsmen team this deployment,” said Cmdr. James Imlah, VP-47’s executive officer. “They rose to the challenge and executed the mission flawlessly.”

For the first time in more than 52 years, VP-47 returned to NAS Whidbey Island after the deployment. The squadron was previously home-ported at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, in Kaneohe Bay, and conducted a permanent duty station change with the deployment. VP-47 is the second of three Hawaii-based squadrons to make the move to Whidbey Island.

“It is a bittersweet feeling leaving our home in Hawaii, but we are extremely excited to be coming to Washington,” said Imlah. “The people of Whidbey Island have done an exceptional job of making us feel welcome and making our transition as seamless as possible.”

This was the Golden Swordsmen’s final deployment with the P-3C Orion aircraft. VP-47 flew the Orion for over 50 years. They will be transitioning to the Boeing P-8A Poseidon over the course of 2017.

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