In early April, the Grey Knights of Patrol Squadron 46 were slated to return from deployment to the 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
“After a rewarding six months spent forward in a tri-site deployment the Grey Knights are excited to return to the Pacific Northwest,” a squadron press release said.
The deployment will go down in VP-46’s history as its final time flying the P-3C Orion before beginning a six-month transition to the P-8A Poseidon.
During the deployment, VP-46 maintained a rigorous operational tempo completing over 600 missions encompassing in excess of 5,400 mishap-free flight hours.
The Grey Knights were called upon to execute a wide range of mission sets including overland Syria/Iraq in support of the Defeat ISIS Campaign, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance, Maritime Domain Awareness, and Anti-Submarine Warfare. They also provided armed escort and overwatch for U.S. and Coalition partners.
VP-46 has been spread across the world operating out of three deployed locations. VP-46’s main hub was located in 5th Fleet with detachments in the 6th and 7th Fleet AORs.
The P-3C Orion was flown by VP-46 for over 50 years, but this homecoming marks the end of an era.
Upon landing at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, VP-46 aircrew will step off their Orions for the last time, and prepare for the next chapter of Grey Knight history.
The squadron will begin to transition to the P-8A Poseidon in short order and will be doing so throughout the remainder of this year.
Once the squadron has successfully transitioned, they will begin a challenging yearlong Inter-Deployment Readiness Cycle to prepare for their first deployment as a P-8A squadron.