JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --- The Patrol Squadron (VP) 45 “Pelicans” returned to Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, May 29, after an eight-month deployment.
VP-45, led by commanding officer Cmdr. Paul Nickell, deployed with the “Diamondbacks” of Mobile Tactical Operation Center Five (MTOC-5). The squadron was deployed from October 2019 through May 2020 to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operation (AO), and assumed command of Task Group 72.2 (CTG 72.2).
“I have been consistently impressed by both the tactical and operational excellence of this team. It’s been great to have back-to-back deployments in C7F to become sage practitioners of disciplined lethality, operating with commander’s intent. The families and friends of our Sailors should be very proud of the selfless dedication and efforts of the team,” said Nickell.
The squadron conducted maritime intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), theater security cooperation (TSC), and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missions.
VP-45 supported a variety of coordinated operations such as Maritime Training Activity Sama Sama, Annual Exercise 2019, Sea Dragon, and provided support to Joint Task Force (JTF) 519 Carrier Strike Group.
These exercises maintained and strengthened maritime partnerships, as well as enhanced maritime interoperability. Over the eight months, VP-45 and MTOC-5 built critical relationships with Air Force partners such as the 909th Air Refueling Squadron, which allowed for the first long-range, persistent ASW event that spanned half the AO.
VP-45 had the task of being Navy’s first global force managed squadron to deploy the advanced airborne sensor (AAS) aircraft for theater ASW.
“Aircrew and maintenance accelerated the timeline on AAS’ role in the theater, helping operational planners prepare future deployments,” said Nickell, who added that VP-45 maintainers executed over 13,000 man-hours, ensuring every mission succeeded.
VP-45 and MTOC-5 also strengthened relationships with other U.S. naval forces, including the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Abraham Lincoln, and USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Groups, as well as America Expeditionary Strike Group. Throughout various detachments and exercises, VP-45 had the opportunity to work alongside other naval forces such as the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force, Republic of Korea Navy, Royal Australian Navy, and the Royal Canadian Navy.
During the deployment, VP-45 executed over 5,000 flight hours during more than 875 sorties. They flew from Diego Garcia to Northern Japan, down to Southern Australia and across several Asia-pacific nations; in Guam, one crew located a stranded fisherman, deployed a life raft and directed recovery ships to his location. The squadron also participated in a large-scale exercise with a Joint Task Force in Palawan and supported multiple typhoon evacuations in the AOO.