A new year meant new aircraft, a new home and a new beginning for the Golden Eagles of Patrol Squadron (VP) 9.
After 54 years of service in the P-3 Orion, VP-9 started 2018 with the transition to the P-8 Poseidon, according to a press release.
This will be the fourth aircraft flown by the squadron since its commissioning in 1951.
Previous aircraft include the P4Y-2 Privateer, P2V Neptune and all variants of the P-3 Orion.
VP-9 originated at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and has had four homeport changes on the West Coast.
After 66 years, the Golden Eagles returned to NAS Whidbey Island in November 2017.
The transition comprises three phases. The first began on Whidbey and included classroom and simulator training.
Phase two began in January in Jacksonville, Fla., where the squadron is currently performing training flights, crew simulators and maintenance instruction.
Phase three will send the squadron back to Whidbey Island for tactical aircraft employment and qualifying “safe-for-flight,” signifying the completion of the training syllabus.
“The professionalism of the Golden Eagles is unmatched,” said Cmdr. Jeff Bowman, commanding officer for VP-9 in the release.
“We have planned, communicated and all levels of leadership have been actively engaged in the preparations so every sailor and officer can execute this dynamic evolution with confidence,” said Bowman.
While operating the P-3 Orion, the Golden Eagles were honored with nine Battle Efficiency Awards, four Meritorious Unit Commendations, five Coastal Command Trophies and two Golden Wrench Awards for aviation maintenance excellence.