The US Navy’s Patrol Squadron 40 (VP-40) ‘Fighting Marlins’ started its first deployment with the Boeing P-8A Poseidon on April 28, when the initial maritime patrol aircraft arrived at Naval Air Station (NAS) Sigonella in Sicily, Italy.
Normally based at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, the ‘Fighting Marlins’ were the last active-duty US Navy squadron to transition from the Lockheed P-3C Orion to the P-8A. The unit’s transition to the Poseidon began in November 2019, following the conclusion of its final Orion deployment.
Since it arrived in the European theatre, VP-40 has conducted detachments to Keflavik, Iceland and NAS Rota, Spain; in addition to supporting operational missions from Sigonella as part of the US Sixth Fleet and Commander Task Force 67. It has also been tasked with supporting the US Fourth Fleet with missions conducted from the Cooperative Security Location Comalapa in El Salvador.
The unit also participated in the annual NATO Tiger Meet, which was hosted this year by the Portuguese Air Force’s 301 Squadron ‘Jaguares’. While operating from NAS Rota, VP-40 conducted six dynamic missions; enabling NATO forces to find, fix and finish multi-domain targets of interest. This included the honing of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) skills against a Portuguese Tridente (Type 209PN) attack submarine, while providing direct support to the Portuguese frigate, NRP Alvares Cabral (F-336).
During its time in Keflavik, the ‘Fighting Marlins’ coordinated with VP-4 ‘The Skinny Dragons’ to launch two AGM-84D Harpoon air-to-surface missiles against a target barge off the coast of Norway during Exercise At-Sea Demo/Formidable Shield (ASD/FS) on May 31. This marked the first Harpoon launch by Poseidons in the European theatre.
By Tom Kaminski