Grey Knights back on Whidbey

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.