VP-26 Unit Insignia
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Navy|
|Role||Maritime or Land based Patrol and Reconnaissance|
|Part of||Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Eleven|
|Garrison/HQ||NAS Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL|
|Commanding Officer||CDR Michael P Borrelli , USN|
|Executive Officer||CDR Drew Klosterman , USN|
|Command Master Chief||CMDCM William Eason , USN|
The VP-26 "Tridents" are a United States Navy aircraft squadron based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Jacksonville, Florida, United States. The squadron operates the Boeing P-8A patrol aircraft. The squadron was originally established as Bombing Squadron 114 (VB-114) on 26 August 1943, redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron 114 (VPB-114) on 1 October 1944, redesignated Patrol Squadron 114 (VP-114) on 15 May 1946, redesignated Heavy Patrol Squadron (Landplane) 6 (VP-HL-6) on 15 November 1946 and redesignated Patrol Squadron 26 (VP-26) on 1 September 1948. It is the third squadron to be designated VP-26, the first VP-26 was redesignated VP-102 on 16 December 1940 and the second VP-26 was redesignated VP-14 on 1 July 1941.
As a member of Patrol Wing Eleven, VP-26 is a Maritime Patrol Squadron with a worldwide theater of operations. Mission areas include: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASU), Command and Control Warfare (C2W), Command, Control, and Communications (CCC), Intelligence (INT), Mine Warfare (MIW), and Mobility (MOB).
- 26 August 1943: VB-114 was established at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, as a bombing squadron (land) ﬂying the PB4Y-1 Liberator heavy bomber, under the administrative control of FAW-5.
- 14 October – December 1943: The squadron relocated to NAAS Oceana, Virginia, for further training on the PB4Y-1. By December it became apparent that the squadron’s emphasis would soon be ASW, and on 11 December 1943, one of the squadron’s PB4Y-1s was sent to NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, for installation of the General Electric L-7 searchlight. On 21 December 1943, the remainder of the squadron aircraft and aircrews were sent to NAS Quonset Point for similar reﬁts, followed by one week of specialized training in the use of the searchlight in night attacks on enemy submarines.
- 27 December 1943: An advance party of one officer and 21 enlisted personnel were ordered to NAS Norfolk, to make preparations for the squadron’s shipment overseas. The remainder of the squadron stayed at NAS Quonset Point to complete the ASW syllabus on night attacks.
- 12 February – 4 March 1944: Orders were received for transfer to NAF Port Lyautey, French Morocco. On 16 February 1944, the Norfolk detachment departed for Casablanca, on USS Rockaway with the squadron’s equipment aboard. The squadron aircraft departed Quonset Point on 21 February 1944 for Morrison Field, West Palm Beach, Florida, and from there in sections to NAF Port Lyautey. The movement was completed with the arrival of the last aircraft on 4 March 1944. VB-114 came under the administrative control of FAW-15 at that time.
- 7–18 March 1944: A detachment of three crews and aircraft was sent to Agadir, French Morocco, for familiarization ﬂights in the combat zone. The ﬁrst combat patrols commenced on 18 March 1944.
- 29 April 1944: A second detachment of six aircraft and crews was sent to Gibraltar, arriving on the 30th, and ready for operational patrols on 1 May 1944. The lack of enemy contacts led to the return of four crews and aircraft to Port Lyautey on 7 June 1944, leaving two crews and one aircraft at Gibraltar for contingencies.
- 17 June 1944: A detachment of six searchlight-equipped aircraft and nine aircrews deployed to RAF Dunkeswell, Devon, England, under the administrative control of FAW-7. The mission of this detachment was to protect Allied shipping from enemy U-boats during the Invasion of Normandy. By 9 July 1944, the detachment had increased by arrival of three additional searchlight-equipped aircraft.
- 20 July – 1 August 1944: The two remaining VB-114 aircraft and crews at NAF Port Lyautey were relocated to Lajes Field, Azores, leaving no squadrons in French Morocco. On 24 July 1944, two aircraft from the Dunkeswell detachment arrived to supplement the group. Movement of all equipment, supplies, personnel and aircraft was completed by 28 July 1944. The Azores detachment came under the administrative control of FAW-9. The ﬁrst operational combat mission ever ﬂown from neutral Portuguese territory took place on 1 August 1944. The Azores belonged to Portugal, a neutral power in WWII. Britain, being a long-standing ally of Portugal, was allowed to establish an air base on the Azores in 1943. Although the airﬁeld could be used as a staging post by U.S. aircraft, it could not be used as a permanent base unless the aircraft carried British markings. An agreement was reached whereby the squadron would be based on Terceira Island to operate under RAF Coastal Command operational control with both British and U.S. markings. The detachment remaining in the U.K. continued under the operational control of FAW-7.
- 18 November 1944 – 14 February 1945: Tour completion and crew rotation was imminent for the squadron. In order to provide enough aircraft and experienced aircrews for replacement crew training, the Dunkeswell detachment was reduced to four aircrews and four aircraft, with the remainder sent to supplement the Lajes Field detachment. Replacement crews began arriving in the Azores on 8 December 1944, and personnel went into the squadron night searchlight training program. The four aircraft and crews left at Dunkeswell rejoined the squadron on 14 February 1945.
- 26 May 1945: Orders were received to established a squadron detachment of six aircraft and seven crews for hurricane reconnaissance at NAS Boca Chica, Key West, Florida. The aircraft departed Azores for Florida on 31 May 1945.
- 29 May 1945: Administrative control of the squadron at Lajes Field was transferred from FAW-9 to FAW-11.
- 29 June 1945: VB-114 deployed a detachment of 3 aircraft and 4 crews to NAF Port Lyautey, leaving six aircraft at Lajes Field, with the squadron’s administrative command staff.
- October – November 1945: Squadron detachments at Boca Chica and NS San Juan, Puerto Rico were closed and moved to NAAS Edenton, North Carolina. On 29 November the squadron was ordered to move its headquarters from the Azores to NAS Edenton and maintained detachments at NAS Port Lyautey and Lajes Field. With this move the squadron came under the operational control of FAW-5.
- January 1947: The squadron was home based at NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey and a three aircraft detachment remained at NAF Port Lyautey, with ASW as its primary mission. In actual fact, most ﬂight activity involved mail and passenger transport, search and rescue and special ﬂights as assigned by ComNavEastLantMed. Within a year, the remainder of the squadron was again based at NAF Port Lyautey.
- 4 January 1948: The squadron deployed to NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, to conduct cold weather operations and provide services to Commander Task Force 61.
- 26 June 1948: Russia and its East German ally closed Berlin to all traffic except for speciﬁed air lanes. The western allied air forces began the Berlin Airlift of supplies to sustain the beleaguered city. The airlift soon became known as Operation Vittles. VP-HL-6 ﬂew numerous missions to bring medical supplies to airﬁelds in the Allied Zone of Occupation where they were then transferred to unarmed transport aircraft ﬂying missions into Berlin. The blockade was lifted in May 1949.
- March 1949: The squadron’s headquarters and home port was changed from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland to NAS Port Lyautey. Consequently, the squadron detachment that had been maintained at NAS Port Lyautey now became a full squadron with a detachment at NAS Patuxent River.
- 8 April 1950: PB4Y-2 Privateer BuNo 59645 was declared overdue by Flight Service Frankfurt, Germany. The Privateer was based at NAF Port Lyautey and was conducting a patrol mission launched from Wiesbaden Air Base, West Germany, over the Baltic Sea off the coast of Lepija, Latvia. Subsequent search efforts over a period of 10 days in the Baltic area by VP-26 and USAF aircraft were futile. Days later, a Swedish ﬁshing vessel picked up a life vest identiﬁed as coming from the missing aircraft. Shortly after, the Russians published a note of protest accusing the missing aircraft of violating international law by crossing the Soviet border and exchanging ﬁre with Soviet ﬁghter aircraft (the Privateer was unarmed). Lieutenant John H. Fette and his crew of four officers and six enlisted were never accounted for, and were presumed to be among the ﬁrst casualties of the Cold War. Unconﬁrmed reports stated that the missing crew members were recovered from the sea after being shot down and forwarded to the KGB for interrogation. Their ultimate fates have never been determined.
- 30 June 1950: VP-26 was relocated to a new home base at NAS Patuxent River, under the operational control of FAW-3. Upon arrival the squadron began transition training from the PB4Y-2 Privateer to the P-2V4 Neptune.
- February 1952: VP-26 became the ﬁrst patrol squadron to be relocated to newly established NAS Brunswick, Maine, under the administrative control of FAW-3.
- 14 February 1952: VP-26 suffered its ﬁrst fatal accident when P2V-4 EB-7 crashed in a wooded area off the end of the runway at NAS Brunswick. The copilot and four crew members were killed in the crash.
- October 1954: VP-26 participated in Operation LANTFLEX, the annual Atlantic Fleet Exercise. Lieutenant (jg) C. O. Paddock had the distinction of disabling USS Toro with a small target practice bomb that made a direct hit on its periscope. Toro’s skipper presented Lieutenant (jg) Paddock with a mounted portion of the twisted periscope.
- March 1955: VP-26 deployed to NAS Keﬂavik, Iceland. During the deployment the squadron replaced its P2V-5 (MAD) aircraft with 12 new P2V-5F Neptunes with jet auxiliary engine mounts.
- 1956: VP-26 deployed to Thule Air Base, Greenland. During the deployment VP-26 became the ﬁrst patrol squadron to ﬂy all 12 aircraft over the North Pole.
- 5 September 1957: VP-26 deployed to NAS Keﬂavik, for NATO aerial mine warfare exercises. A detachment was maintained at NAS Port Lyautey. On 3 December 1957, a VP-26 P2V-5F was the ﬁrst U.S. Navy combat-type aircraft to land at the Spanish air base at Rota, Spain (NAS Rota was established in November 1957).
- 22 November 1958 – 4 May 1959: VP-26 made a split deployment to NAS Keﬂavik and NAS Argentia, during which the squadron located the Russian trawler that had deliberately severed the transatlantic cables in February 1959.
- 25 January 1960: VP-26 deployed a six-aircraft detachment to NAS Rota, Spain. In March the squadron took part in NATO ASW exercise Dawn Breeze, based at Lann-Bihoué, France. The squadron was the ﬁrst to operate from the base in nearly a decade.
- September 1962: VP-26 deployed a six-aircraft detachment to NAS Argentia for a planned ﬁve-month tour, but the Cuban Missile Crisis in October cut short the deployment. On 23 October 1962, VP-26 deployed the detachment to NAS Key West, Florida, to help maintain the quarantine of Cuba by preventing Soviet Bloc vessels from bringing in intermediate range missiles and long-range bombers. The remaining squadron aircraft were deployed across the North Atlantic from NAS Argentia to Lajes Field.
- October 1964: VP-26 supplied one aircraft and crew for a month to work with U.S. Army Special Forces personnel at Pope AFB, North Carolina. The SP-2E aircraft was reconﬁgured to function as a jump platform for Special Forces parachutists during day and night jumps at high altitude.
- October 1965 – 5 January 1966: VP-26 began transition training from the P2V Neptune ﬂown by the squadron for over 15 years, to the new P-3B Orion. The ﬁrst P-3B arrived at NAS Brunswick on 5 January 1966, when VP-26 became the Navy’s ﬁrst operational P-3B squadron.
- 19 July 1966: VP-26 deployed to NAS Argentia with a detachment at NAS Keﬂavik. During the deployment squadron personnel had the unique experience of viewing up close the newly formed volcanic island of Syrtlindur, a subsurface volcano that rose from the sea in July 1965.
- 24 November 1967 – April 1968: VP-26 deployed to WestPac with detachments based at NS Sangley Point, Philippines and U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Thailand. The squadron relieved VP-5 at NS Sangley Point. During the deployment VP-26 were tasked with Yankee Team patrols in the Gulf of Tonkin, Market Time surveillance off the southern coast of South Vietnam, and open sea patrols covering the South China Sea. The squadron lost two aircraft during the deployment. On 6 February, P-3B, NuNo. 153440, piloted by Lieutenant Commander Robert F. Meglio, crashed at sea with the loss of the entire crew of CAC-8. On 1 April another 12 men of CAC-1 lost their lives when their P-3B, BuNo. 153445, piloted by Lieutenant (jg) Stuart M. McClellan, was shot down by enemy gunﬁre off the coast of South Vietnam near Phú QuốcIsland. Upon the squadron’s return on 2 June 1968, flight crewmembers were awarded several Air Medals, Vietnam Service, and Campaign Medals. In August 1968, the squadron was awarded the “E” for Battle Efficiency from FAW-3.
From 19 June – October 1970 VP-26 deployed to NAS Sigonella, Sicily, relieving VP-5. During the deployment the Black September events occurred in Jordan and VP-26 averaged two sorties each day in the eastern Mediterranean from 10 September to 22 October 1970, when the situation stabilized.
VP-26 was named the Fleet Air Wing Atlantic recipient of the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award for 1972. As a result of the squadron’s tactical efforts throughout 1973 and 1974, VP-26 was awarded the CAPT Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy for excellence in anti-submarine warfare. In 1975, the VP-26 became involved in the celebration of the United States Bicentennial. As well as flying a 13-starred tail cap on their aircraft, over 100 men and women from VP-26 undertook the exterior renovation of the Pejepscot Museum in Brunswick, Maine. This effort earned VP-26 the honor of being designated a Navy Bicentennial Command. As the Fleet's only active duty Bicentennial Squadron, the 1976 split-site deployment to NS Rota and Lajes Field gave VP-26 the opportunity to display its Bicentennial colors throughout the Mediterranean, Europe and the North Atlantic. As a result of this successful deployment, the squadron received the Golden Wrench Award for superior achievement in aircraft maintenance and readiness, and the CAPT Arnold Jay Isbell Trophy for 1976. September 1977 found VP-26 deployed to several strategic locations throughout the North Atlantic. Although primarily based in NAS Bermuda and Lajes Field, VP-26 maintained detachments for varying lengths of time in the Panama Canal Zone, RAF Ascension Island, NAS Guantanamo Bay, NAS Keflavik, and NS San Juan. Coordinated operations highlighted this deployment as aircrews participated in numerous ASW exercises with NATO and Allied Naval Forces. Returning to NAS Brunswick in early 1978, VP-26 awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation, both the Silver and Golden Anchor Awards for retention excellence and the CNO Aviation Safety Award for operations conducted throughout 1976 and 1977. In March 1979, VP-26 began transitioning from the P-3B to the P-3C Update II which incorporated the latest in avionics and weapons systems, including a turret-mounted infrared detection device that lowered out of the nose to identify targets day or night and AGM-84A Harpoon missile capability.
In early March 1980, the squadron deployed to NAF Kadena, Okinawa while maintaining a detachment at Diego Garcia. This marked the first time since 1967 that an East Coast patrol squadron deployed to Southeast Asia. The detachment at Diego Garcia was in response to the Soviet buildup of military forces in the Persian Gulf. The squadron returned to NAS Brunswick in September and received the Navy Expeditionary Medal for its activities in the Indian Ocean. VP-26 received the 1981 CNO Safety Award. On 1 July 1982, VP-26s Special Projects detachment broke away and became a squadron of its own. The newly formed squadron was established “Special Projects Patrol Squadron” VPU-1 after being a VP-26 detachment since 1969. Also in July 1982 VP-26 deployed to NAS Keflavik. Three crews were subsequently detached for three months to the Western pacific to augment WESTPAC Harpoon capabilities. Before leaving NAS Keflavik VP-26 crews had operated from Bodø Main Air Station, Andøya and Stavanger, Norway, Thule AB, Greenland; RAF Machrihanish and RAF Kinloss, Scotland; RAF Mildenhall and RAF St Mawgan, England; Valkenburg Naval Air Base, Netherlands; Nordholz, Germany; Rota, Spain; Lajes Field, Azores; Misawa and Kadena, Japan; Cubi Point, Philippines; and U-Tapao, Thailand. Returning to NAS Brunswick in December 1982, VP-26 became the first occupant of the newly built Hangar #5. In November 1983 VP-26 deployed to NAS Bermuda, with detachments to Lajes Field and NS Roosevelt Roads, where they averaged over 1,000 flight hours per month for three consecutive months. VP-26 again deployed to Kadena, Japan in January 1985. During this time VP-26 operated with units of the Seventh Fleet in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, and on several occasions operated simultaneously from every Seventh Fleet deployment site. In June 1986 VP-26 deployed to NS Rota and Lajes Field. While conducting operations throughout the Mediterranean and North Atlantic, aircrews visited France, the United Kingdom, Greece, Senegal, Iceland, Bermuda, Italy, and Gibraltar. While at home in 1987 the squadron maintained a busy operational tempo with detachments to NAS Jacksonville, NAS Bermuda, Iceland, Lajes Field, RAF Ascension Island, NS Puerto Rico and Thule Air Base. VP-26 attained a 100% sortie completion rate during its detachments. In November 1987, VP-26 deployed to NAS Keflavik, while on this deployment, the crews achieved an impressive ASW mission record against Soviet submarines. The deployment was rounded out by the reception of another Golden Wrench Award and a second Battle “E” for the year of 1988. In June 1989, VP-26 deployed to NS Rota and Lajes Field for another record-setting deployment, accumulating over 5,400 flight hours in six months. The squadron also supported sixteen operational detachments to England, Ascension Island, NAS Sigonella, Sicily, Turkey, and Africa, at one point maintaining a detachment for 11 consecutive weeks. The highlight was an unprecedented six weeks in NSA Souda Bay, Crete supporting Sixth Fleet operations. The squadron was then awarded its third Battle “E” Award.
With the disintegration of Yugoslavia, VP-26 saw three consecutive deployments to NAS Sigonella. Detachments were sent to Saudi Arabia to monitor the United Nations embargo against Iraq. Over the Adriatic Sea VP-26 enforced the embargo against the former Yugoslavia in the first continuous armed patrols in the Mediterranean since World War II, carrying live torpedoes and Maverick missiles. The squadron also was among the first to conduct Electro-Optic surveillance patrols overland and to visit emerging Eastern European democracies. On 7 November 1990, VP-26 departed NAS Brunswick to conduct a unique tri-site deployment, distributing VP-26 aircraft at NAS Key West, Florida; Roosevelt Roads and Lajes Field. While performing narcotics detection and monitoring operations out of Key West and Roosevelt Roads VP-26 aircrews located two suspicious vessels which were seized and confirmed to have held a total of over 1300 kilograms of cocaine with an estimated street value of over $30 million. VP-26 returned to Roosevelt Roads for a two-month detachment in August 1991 for continued narcotics detection and monitoring operations in support of the nation’s “War on Drugs”. The squadron's 10 May 1992 split-site deployment to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and NAS Sigonella earned VP-26 a Meritorious Unit Commendation for operations in the Adriatic Sea, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean. VP-26 was the first P-3 squadron to fly missions in the Adriatic Sea during Operation Maritime Monitor. Additionally, VP-26 accomplished the first ever Portuguese-United States joint minex in the MAP/CIS joint exercise.
VP-26 was awarded the Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation for meritorious service in support of Operation Desert Calm, United Nations sanctions against the former Republic of Yugoslavia, and operations with deployed Marine Amphibious Readiness Groups and Carrier Battle Groups from September 1993 to February 1994. VP-26 flew over 620 armed sorties during this time, including daily Maverick Surface Unit Combat Air Patrol, in support of Operation Sharp Guard, amassing 4,800 flight hours. VP-26 completed the first ever live Maverick warshot by an operational P-3 squadron. In October 1994 VP-26 executed a formation (Mining Readiness Certification Inspection) MRCI, this was the first MRCI flown in close formation by any VP squadron in the previous five years. In December 1994, VP-26 was called upon to conduct a SAR effort 950 miles (1,530 km) off the coast of New England. The 450-foot (140 m) Ukrainian freighter, “Salvador Allende” had been taking on water in stormy seas. VP-26 flew over 85 hours in six days in support of this effort, during which two people were rescued after their vessel sank. In January 1995, the Tridents returned to NAS Sigonella for their third consecutive Mediterranean deployment. VP-26 flew over 5,000 hours and 468 armed sorties in support of Operations Sharp Guard and Deny Flight.
From July 1995 to February 1996 VP-26 began a seven-month transition to the P-3C Update III aircraft. In August 1996 VP-26 conducted a tri-site deployment to Iceland, Puerto Rico, and Panama. VP-26 achieved the highest drug interdiction rate ever with more than $1.9 billion in cocaine and marijuana busts. Cocaine busts alone were in excess of 38 metric tons, equivalent to over 20% of estimated US consumption. The crews at NAS Keflavik had the highest total contact time on “real world” submarines of any US Maritime Patrol Aircraft squadron in the last 4 years. VP-26 was also the first US military unit invited to participate in the Norwegian national exercise FLOTEX 96. The squadron was then awarded its fourth Battle “E” Award for 1996.
VP-26 returned home to Brunswick, Maine in January 1997 for another home cycle, beginning preparations for their future deployment to NAS Sigonella in February 1998. VP-26 flew over 180 flights in Operations Joint Forge in support of the United Nations and Implementation peacekeeping forces on the ground in Bosnia-Herzogovinia. VP-26 returned home in August 1998 and began an Inter-Deployment-Training-Cycle (IDTC). During the IDTC the squadron prepared for the next deployment, training both maintenance personnel and aircrew. For this “Millennium” deployment, the squadron was split between NAS Keflavik and NS Roosevelt Roads. The Keflavik detachment supported NATO operations deploying to such places as Andøya, Norway; RAF Kinloss, Scotland; Lann Bihoue, France; NS Rota, Spain; and NAS Sigonella, Sicily. The Caribbean detachment tracked suspected narcotics traffickers both in the air and on the sea. VP-26 conducted many detachments to Manta, Ecuador to carry the counter-narcotics mission to the Eastern Pacific.
VP-26 attained 275,000 mishap-free flight hours in over 38 years (2000)—a worldwide record which encompasses all types of aviation, civilian and military. In preparation for its next Mediterranean deployment, VP-26 trained all twelve aircrews in the new P-3C Update III AIP (Anti-surface-warfare Improvement Program) aircraft with state-of-the-art improvements in Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence; surveillance and survivability. The squadron received its first AIP aircraft in September 2000. VP-26 also conducted extensive in-house training for all its crews to properly use the SLAM Missile, Maverick Missile, and Online Harpoon.
In February 2001, VP-26 returned to NAS Sigonella supporting the United Nations operations Deliberate Forge and Joint Guardian and participating in several multinational exercises throughout Africa and Europe. Over the course of the six months at NAS Sigonella, VP-26 flew more than 5000 mishap-free operational hours, achieving a 93 percent sortie completion rate. They made operational detachments to 15 different countries including: NS Rota, Spain; Souda Bay, Crete; Nordholtz, Germany; Visby, Sweden; Nîmes, France; RAF Kinloss, Scotland; Malta, and Turkey. VP-26 flew a variety of operational missions over the Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, Black Sea, North Sea, and the Mediterranean, these missions included: support for two US carrier battlegroups and various NATO surface combatants, overland reconnaissance in support of NATO Stabilization Forces (SFOR) and NATO Kosovo Force (KFOR), and over 20 multinational exercises with 24 nations. On 10 August 2001, VP-26 arrived back at their home base of Brunswick, ME, in preparation for an interdeployment cycle. Following the September 11 attacks VP-26 moved to a heightened state of readiness, the squadron supported the war on terrorism by taking part in various Homeland Defense operations.
In August 2002, VP-26 began its six-month, split-site deployment to NAS Keflavik, and NS Roosevelt Roads. Aircrews took part in missions ranging from armed SUCAP in the STRoG to SRO to the "Wars on Drugs and Terrorism". Efforts in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific led to the interdiction of 12,641 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of over $3.4 billion. VP-26 also played a major role in the introduction of AIP to the SOUTHCOM AOR. The squadron executed over 5000 flight hours, including 83 ASW events, and was nominated for the 2002 Phoenix Award for Maintenance Excellence and the 2002 Battle Efficiency Award. VP-26 also provided community support through "Manta Santa" (200 families clothed, 1678 children received toys, and $800 donated for a local pediatric hospital), "Sisters of Mother Teresa" aid in Reykjavik, and multiple "Adopt-a-School" affiliations.
On 4 April 2003, VP-26 held its 57th change of command as CDR Matthew J. Carter relieved CDR Sean S. Buck as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron 26. In attendance were friends and family of Team Trident and members of New York City Fire Department, Ladder 10, with whom VP-26 has an affiliation. The firefighters presented the command a cross, fabricated of steel from the World Trade Center, as well as a photograph of the tragedy. On 7 April VP-26 were redeployed into action, two crews and maintenance support personnel departed for the Mediterranean to participate in the Iraq War. VP-26 commenced their detachment at NS Rota and then later at NAS Sigonella flying armed support for supply boats transiting the Strait of Gibraltar. While at NAS Sigonella, the squadron flew multiple missions supporting of both the USS Harry S. Truman and USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Battle Groups. On 16 April VP-26 officially assume the duties of the Ready Squadron. In addition to homeland defense duties (when required), VP-26 provided mechanical support to planes arriving from other bases, as well as ground logistics for the associated aircrews. From May to June 2003, members of VP-26 worked with Habitat for Humanity - Bath Brunswick Area (HFHBBA) to build Habitat houses.
In August 2003, VP-26 surpassed 41 years of mishap-free flying, an outstanding record recognized by both the Navy and by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This made the squadron the safest organization throughout all military and civilian aviation, flying over 296,000 hours without a mishap since 1962, when a P-2E Neptune caught fire and exploded during a ground maintenance engine check. According to the Safety Center report, the cause of the explosion was the “main primer line of the impeller section was improperly connected,” no deaths or injuries resulted. On 17 September Combat Air Crew One (CAC-1) flew to NAS Jacksonville to participate in a Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) event with the USS Enterprise Carrier Battle Group. The following day, they were joined by a second aircraft, CAC-5, and a maintenance detachment. Their involvement in the exercise, which had been moved off the coast of Florida due to Hurricane Isabel, lasted two weeks and included over 75 flight hours between the two crews.
By the start of 2004, VP-26 was ready for deployment, and at the end of January VP-26 relieved VP-45 at NAS Sigonella to perform various operations. For the entire deployment VP-26 flew in Operations Deliberate Forge and Joint Guardian in Kosovo and Bosnia. In addition, the squadron flew escort missions through the Straights of Gibraltar, escorting USNR ships, ensuring the sea-lanes of communication and commerce remained open. During February and March, VP-26 participated in Exercise Dogfish, a multi-national ASW exercise. In April, CAC 4 conducted a successful SAR event, saving the lives of over 80 people whose ship had sunk. Later, two crews went to the Persian Gulf to support the Iraq War. Also, in May and June, they flew in Operation Active Endeavor in support of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games.
VP-26 was relieved by VP-16 at NAS Sigonella and returned to NAS Brunswick in the beginning of July, with most of the squadron personnel returning home on July 4. During the remainder of 2004 VP-26 continued training. VP-26 surpassed 42 years of mishap-free flying, totaling over 303,420 hours in August. In September, one crew detached, for six days to NAS Jacksonville, participating in the JTFEX. With Hangar 6 still under construction, VP-26 moved in with VP-92. The composition of two squadrons in one hangar proved to be beneficial because VP-26 became the test squadron for Active/Reserve Integration. In December, two crews from VP-92 joined VP-26 as the first reserve crews to be part of an active squadron. Throughout the year, VP-26 earned several awards, including the Global War on Terrorism Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, and two crews earned the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. The squadron again won the Golden Anchor Award for Retention Excellence.
As 2005 came to a close VP-26 again deployed to NAS Sigonella and Comalopa Air Base in El Salvador, providing support for Operation Active Endeavor as well as multi-national exercises in Bulgaria, Romania, Lithuania, France, Crete, Ghana, and Germany, as well as hosting Naval Forces from around Europe for Operation Noble Manta and Caribbean Anti-Drug Operations. The squadron returned to Brunswick in June 2006. The Squadron was awarded the Armed Forced Service Medal for their actions.
In 2007 VP-26 surpassed 410,000 hours of mishap-free flying. An interdeployment training cycle with surge detachments to the Fifth Fleet AOR consumed most of the year. In December VP-26 deployed to the Fifth Fleet AOR in support of the "Global War on Terror", the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, as well as anti-piracy operation in the Horn of Africa.
The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended that Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine be closed, that Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing FIVE be inactivated, and that VP-26 be moved to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, joining Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing ELEVEN. That homeport change was executed in January 2010.
VP-26 has been awarded five Battle Efficiency “E” Awards, three CAPT Arnold Jay Isbell Trophies, two Golden Wrenches for maintenance excellence, two Navy Unit Commendation, ten Meritorious Unit Commendations, one Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation, three Navy Expeditionary Medals, one Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service and Expeditionary Medals, three Joint Meritorious Unit Citations, NATO Medal (Kosovo), the Gold, Silver, and Bronze Anchors for retention excellence and six Chief of Naval Operations Safety Awards.
The squadron was assigned the following aircraft, effective on the dates shown:
- PB4Y-1 - August 1943
- PB4Y-2 - 1945
- P2V-4 - March 1951
- P2V-5 (MAD) - May 1954
- P2V-5F - March 1955
- P-3B - January 1966
- P-3C UII - July 1979
- P-3C UII.5 - 1993
- P-3C UIIIR - 1994
Home port assignments
The squadron was assigned to these home ports, effective on the dates shown:
- NAS Norfolk, Virginia - 26 August 1943
- NAAS Oceana, Virginia - 14 October 1943
- NAS Port Lyautey, French Morocco - 21 February 1944
- Lajes Field, Azores - 20 July 1944
- NAS Edenton, North Carolina - 29 November 1945
- NAS Atlantic City, New Jersey - May 1946
- NAS Patuxent River, Maryland - 16 April 1948
- NAS Port Lyautey - March 1949
- NAS Patuxent River - 30 June 1950
- NAS Brunswick, Maine - 11 January 1952
- NAS Jacksonville, Florida
- History of the United States Navy
- List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
- List of squadrons in the Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons
- Roberts, Michael D. (2000). Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons, Volume 2, Chapter 3 Patrol Squadron (VP) Histories(2nd VP-26 to 1st VP-29). Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. pp. 169–76. Retrieved 26 June 2016.