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VP-8 Tigers
Vp-8 logo.jpg
VP-8 Unit Insignia
Active 1 September 1942 – Present
Country United States of America
Branch United States Navy Seal United States Navy
Type Squadron
Role Anti-Submarine Patrol
Part of United States Navy
Garrison/HQ Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida
Nickname(s) The Fighting Tigers
Engagements World War II
Vietnam War
Gulf War
Operation Enduring Freedom
Iraq War
Decorations Joint Meritorious Unit Award (2)
Navy Unit Commendation (3)
Meritorious Unit Commendation (7)
Navy Expeditionary Medal (1)
Southwest Asia Service Medal (1)
Navy "E" Ribbon (9)
Arleigh Burke Fleet Trophy (1)
Aircraft flown
Patrol PBM-3/3C/3S/5E

Patrol Squadron Eight (VP-8) is a U.S. Navy land-based patrol squadron that was based at the Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine, but is now stationed at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida. VP-8 is tasked to undertake maritime patrol, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions.

The squadron was originally established as Patrol Squadron 201 (VP-201) on 1 September 1942, redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron 201 (VPB-201) on 1 October 1944, redesignated Patrol Squadron 201 (VP-201) on 15 May 1946, redesignated Patrol Squadron, Medium Seaplane 1 (VP-MS-1) on 15 November 1946, redesignated Patrol Squadron, Medium Landplane 8 (VP-ML-8) on 5 June 1947 and redesignated Patrol Squadron 8 (VP-8) on 1 September 1948. It is the second squadron to be designated VP-8, the first VP-8 was redesignated VP-24 on 1 July 1939.[1]

Operational history[edit]

World War II[edit]

VP-201 PBM-3Cs at NAS Banana River in 1942
U-134 under attack by VP-201, 1943

VP-201 was established at NAS Norfolk, Virginia on 1 September 1942, under the operational command of FAW5, flying PBM-3 Mariner seaplanes. The squadron was sent on 6 October 1942 to NAS Banana River, Florida, where most of the operational unit training was undertaken. The squadron received its own new PBM-3C aircraft on 1 December 1942.

On 6 February 1943 VP-201 returned to its home port at NAS Norfolk. Flight crew training continued concurrently with patrol operations along the Atlantic seaboard as a part of Task Force 28 in the Eastern Sea Frontier. On 27 May 1943 the squadron's PBM-3C aircraft were replaced by the newer PBM-3S with improved radar. After refitting, a six-aircraft detachment deployed to NAS Bermuda. Patrols were flown ranging out to 800 miles (1,300 km), lasting 12 to 18 hours. Convoys to and from Europe were covered in a radius of 500 miles (800 km) from Bermuda. On 9 July 1943 Lieutenant Soverel and crew attacked U-134 off Bermuda, the submarine, caught on the surface, manned its potent anti-aircraft (AA) defenses and heavily damaged the PBM-3S, forcing it to return to base. As a result of this encounter, subsequent patrols were made in pairs of aircraft. On 30 July 1943 VP-201 held a change of command at NAS Norfolk, the former commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander M. H. Tuttle, and half of the squadron personnel and assets were transferred to form the cadre of a new PB4Y-1 Liberator squadron, VB-111, the remainder of the squadron and its newly assigned personnel were transferred the next week to a new home port at NAS Bermuda under the administrative control of the Commander Bermuda Air Group. An intensive period of training ensued.

On 8 June 1944 VP-201 was transferred back to its original home port at NAS Norfolk under the administrative control of FAW-5, and assigned duties involving regular flights between Bermuda and Norfolk carrying supplies and personnel. On 12 June the squadron deployed to NAS Key West, Florida, under the operational control of FAW-12 for a two-week period of Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) refresher training. On 12 July VP-201 deployed to NAS Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, under the operational control of FAW-3 under the Commander Panama Sea Frontier. Upon completion of the deployment, the squadron was reassigned to a new home port at NAS Key West under control of FAW-12, on 27 July 1944. From 1 November alf of the squadron’s PBM-3S aircraft were outfitted with L-8C Leigh searchlights at NAS Key West. After training in use of the new British-designed equipment, the squadron was assigned routine operational flights involving ASW patrols and convoy escort.

From 1 April 1945 squadron flight crews were divided into three sections and sent in rotation to Harvey Point, North Carolina, to pick up replacement aircraft, the PBM-5. Familiarization training on the new seaplanes was conducted at Harvey Point before sending the section back to NAS Key West. On 29 May VPB-201 was transferred to a new home port at NAS Coco Solo, under the operational control of FAW-3. The squadron engaged in ASW, searchlight tactics, gunnery, bombing, and instrument training flights. Following the end of World War II, the squadron’s aircraft inventory was reduced from 15 to 9 and it also experienced a reduction in personnel due to the postwar demobilization.[1]

Deployment Duration Wing Base Aircraft Operating Area
May 2, 1943 – June 1944 FAW-5 Bermuda PBM-3S Atlantic
July 12, 1944 – July 27, 1944 FAW-3 Panama PBM-3S Caribbean

Cold War[edit]


VP-8 P2V-3 in 1949.

On 15 March 1946 VPB-201 was assigned a new home port at NS San Juan, Puerto Rico, under the operational control of FAW-11. The squadron was supported by USS San Carlos during the relocation from Panama to Puerto Rico. Upon arrival, a detachment of three aircraft was sent to NAS Trinidad to serve as part of the Air Sea Rescue Task Unit.

In December 1947 VP-ML-8 received its first contingent of replacement aircraft, the new P2V-2 Neptune. The squadron, home ported at NAS Norfolk, was under the control of FAW-5. A period of transition training commenced for the switch from seaplanes to landplanes.

On 1 March 1949 VP-8 deployed to NAS Argentia, Newfoundland. The primary emphasis during this tour of duty was the testing of the P2V aircraft in cold weather conditions, flying in temperatures as low as -55° F. Aircrews received training in instrument and night flying and GCA landings.[1]

Deployment Duration Wing Base Aircraft Operating Area
October 24, 1945 – October 31, 1945 FAW-5 Galapagos PBM-5 South Atlantic
June 1, 1946 – June 10, 1946 FAW-1 Chaguaramas P2V-3 Caribbean
May 1, 1949 – May 1, 1949 FAW-5 Argentia P2V3 North Atlantic


Task Force Alfa (1959)

VP-8 made its first deployment to NAS Argentia with it new P2V-5F aircraft July 15, 1955 Detachments from the squadron operated out of Goose Bay, Frobisher Bay, and Thule, Greenland, providing air cover to supply convoys for Distant Early Warning (DEW) radar installations.[2]

In April 1958, VP-8 transferred to its new home base at Chincoteague, Virginia, and began operating with Task Force Alfa, a Hunter-Killer (HUK) group created to develop improved ASW tactics and technology by integrating carrier-based ASW aircraft, land-based patrol aircraft, refitted destroyers, and hunter-killer submarines into a single task force structure.

During the next two years, VP-8 actively participated in the evolution of antisubmarine warfare, to including the development and evaluation of new tactics and equipment.[3]

Deployment Duration Wing Base Aircraft Operating Area
February 1, 1949 – April 1, 1950 FAW-5 Argentia P2V3 North Atlantic
February 22, 1950 – March 28, 1950 FAW-5 Cuba P2V-3 Caribbean
January 5, 1952 – May 20, 1952 FAW-3 Keflavik P2V-3 North Atlantic
December 1952 – July 1953 FAW-3 Keflavik P2V-3 North Atlantic
August 1, 1953 – January 1954 FAW-3 Keflavik P2V-3 North Atlantic
April 1, 1954 – September 1954 FAW-3 Morocco P2V-3 Mediterranean
February 19, 1955 – March 4, 1955 FAW-11 San Juan P2V-3 Caribbean
July 15, 1955 – October 8, 1955 FAW-3 Argentia P2V-5F North Atlantic
December 1, 1955 – January 10, 1955 FAW-3 Argentia P2V-5F North Atlantic
October 31, 1956 – April 4, 1957 FAW-3 Morocco P2V-5F Mediterranean
October 1, 1957 – January 1957 FAW-3 Argentia P2V-5F North Atlantic


VP-8 P-3As in the original blue/white colours.

The VP-8 moved to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland in July 1961. After relinquishing the last of its P2V-5FS aircraft to the U. S. Naval Reserve in October 1962, VP-8 became the first operational P-3A Orion squadron in the U.S. Navy.[4][5]

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, VP-8 sent a four-aircraft detachment to Bermuda to support the naval quarantine, including monitoring of Soviet submarines operating in the Caribbean and Eastern Atlantic.[4][6] VP-8 subsequently deployed detachments to Iceland, Ireland, Newfoundland, Bermuda, and Caribbean bases.[7]

VP-8 made the first trans-Atlantic flight by a P-3 Orion when it flew to West Malling, England, on March 9, 1963. During 1964, VP-8 participated in Fleet Exercise Steel Pike I from bases in Spain. The squadron also began its first P-3B Orion aircraft in December 1965.[6]

VP-8 made its first deployment to the Western Pacific when it relieved VP-28 at Naval Station Sangley Point, Republic of the Philippines, on May 25, 1966. During this deployment, VP-8 carried out combat missions throughout Southeast Asia for the U.S. Seventh Fleet in support of the Vietnam War.[6]

Deployment Duration Wing Base Aircraft Operating Area
August 31, 1962 – December 1962 FAW-11 Cuba P-3A Caribbean
May 25, 1966 – December 2, 1966 FAW-8 Sangley Pt. P-3B Western Pacific
December 1967 – June 8, 1968 FAW-5 Bermuda P-3B Atlantic
February 28, 1969 – June 28, 1969 FAW-5 Bermuda P-3B Atlantic



From 1969 to 1974, VP-8 made several deployments to Bermuda, and it was transferred to its current homeport at Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine, in July 1971.[7]

From March 1 to March 2, 1972, P-3B Orion aircraft from VP-8 maintained a constant surveillance of the stricken Soviet nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine K-19 which had been forced to surface because of an onboard fire that broke ot on February 24.[8]

Starting in February 1976, VP-8 closed out the decade with a number of split deployments.[7]

Deployment Duration Wing Base Aircraft Operating Area
March 2, 1970 – July 17, 1970 FAW-5 Multiple P-3B Mediterranean
October 25, 1970 – February 26, 1971 FAW-5 Multiple (split) P-3B Mediterranean
November 1970 – April 1971 FAW-5 Bermuda (split) P-3B Atlantic
November 1971 – March 1, 1972 FAW-5 Bermuda P-3B Atlantic
October 3, 1972 – November 3, 1972 FAW-5 Rota P3B Mediterranean
January 10, 1974 – June 6, 1974 FAW-5 Bermuda P-3B Atlantic
July 1975 – February 1976 PatWing-5 Rota P-3B Mediterranean
October 1976 – March 1977 PatWing-5 Bermuda/Lajes P-3B Atlantic
February 8, 1978 – August 8, 1978 PatWing-5 Bermuda/Lajes P-3B Atlantic
July 1979 – December 1979 PatWing-5 Rota/Lajes P-3B Mediterranean/Atlantic


From 1980 through 1988, VP08 carried out deployments to Rota, Lajes, Bermuda, and Sigonell.[7] Its deployment to Sigonella included VP-8 participating in numerous ASW exercises with detachments operating out of Rota, Souda Bay, Crete, and Nîmes-Garon, France.[8]

Between October 27 to December 8, 1985, a two-aircraft detachment on rotation at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Puerto Rico, assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in anti-drug interdiction operation the Caribbean Sea.[8]

Deployment Duration Wing Base Aircraft Operating Area
November 4, 1980 – May 12, 1981 PatWing-5 Rota/Lajes P-3B Mediterranean/Atlantic
August 5, 1982 – January 12, 1983 PatWing-5 Bermuda P-3B Atlantic
October 5, 1983 – March 13, 1984 PatWing-5 Sigonella P-3C UII.5 Mediterranean
February 1985 – July 15, 1985 PatWing-5 Rota/Lajes P-3C UII.5 Mediterranean/Atlantic
October 27, 1985 – December 8, 1985 PatWing-5 Roosevelt Roads P-3C UII.5 Caribbean
May 24, 1986 – November 10, 1986 PatWing-5 Keflavik P-3C UII.5 North Atlantic
December 10, 1987 – June 10, 1988 PatWing-5 Rota/Lajes P-3C UII.5 Mediterranean/Atlantic
May 2, 1989 – November 9, 1989 PatWing-5 Keflavik P-3C UII.5 North Atlantic
December 2, 1990 – June 10, 1991 PatWing-5 Sigonella (split) P-3C UII.5 Mediterranean
December 1990 – March 10, 1991 PatWing-1 Jeddah (split) P-3C UII.5 Persian Gulf

Operation Desert Storm[edit]

Starting December 31, 1990, VP-8 deployed to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to support carrier battle groups for Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, as well as monitor Soviet, Libyan, and Iraqi naval units in the Mediterranean from Naval Air Station Sigonella in coordination with U.S. Sixth Fleet carrier battle groups.[7]

Post-Cold War[edit]


Military operations[edit]

In January 1996, VP-8 returned from NAS Sigonella where they flew more than 900 sorties and 6,000 hours in support of Operation Sharp Guard and Operation Decisive Endeavor.[7]

During its 1997 deployment to NAS Sigonella, VP-8 flew over 100 missions supporting the United Nations’ peacekeeping effort in Bosnia-Herzegovina (Operation Deliberate Guard) and 42 missions in support of Operation Silver Wake resulting in the safe evacuation of 889 civilians from Albania.[7]

During its 1998 deployment to NAF Keflavik, NS Roosevelt Roads, and Howard AFB, VP-8 conducted surface and sub-surface surveillance operations in the North Atlantic resulted in tracking 18 individual submarines from eight different countries. Following its return to NAS Brunswick, VP-8 began the transition to Aircraft Improvement Program (AIP) P-3 upgrade aircraft. During its 2000 deployment, the squadron’s new P-3C AIP aircraft flew over 545 missions, consisting of 5300 hours, out of NAF Sigonella in support of Operation Joint Guardian, Operation Determined Forge, and Operation Deliberate Forge.[7]

Counter-narcotic operations[edit]

Operating out of Naval Station Roosevelt Roads between July 1992 and January 1993, VP-8 flew over 6,000 hours in support of counter-narcotic operations and Sixth Fleet operations in the Mediterranean, with several detachment stationed at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Naval Air Station Key West, NAS Sigonella, and Naval Air Facility Lajes.[7]

VP-8 flew nearly 6,000 hours operating out of 18 countries during a tri-site deployment to NAF Keflavik, NS Roosevelt Roads, and Howard Air Force Base, Panama, in 1998. The squadron flew 450 surveillance missions in support of counter-narcotic operations in the Caribbean area of responsibility (AOR), resulting in 13 arrests and the seizure of 11 metric tons of illegal drugs worth $171.4 million USD. Search and rescue efforts in the region accounted for 14 saved lives.[7]

Operating in a split deployment to NAS Roosevelt Roads from August 2001 to February 2002, VP-8 was active in counter-drug operations in the Caribbean, working with the Coast Guard and U.S. Customs, which interdicted or disrupted $7.6 billion in illegal drugs, including over 28,000 kg of cocaine.[7]

From NAF Keflavik, the squadron participated in NATO exercises, as well as undertaking new operational tasks involving homeland defense and Operation Enduring Freedom.[7]

Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit]

VP-8 - Operation Iraqi Freedom

From February to August 2003, VP-8 deployed to NAF Sigonella and Souda Bay, Crete, to provide 24-hour P-3 support for the two carrier battle groups in the Mediterranean during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), flying nearly 100 overland combat missions and over 4,000 flight hours from Italy, Greece, Germany, Spain, and Senegal. This split-site deployment also included support to Operation Joint Guardian, Operation Deliberate Forge, Operation Enduring Freedom, and NATO Joint Command Lisbon.[7]

Its second OIF deployment, starting December 2006, involved VP-8 operation out of Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar as part of Task Group 57.2, a maritime patrol and reconnaissance organization consisting of 22 aircrews and 21 aircraft.[7]

Operation Unified Assistance[edit]

During its Western Pacific deployment to Misawa Air Base and Kadena Air Base, VP-8 participated in the U.S. military response to the aftermath of 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake (Operation Unified Assistance), sending the first U.S. military aircraft on station to the disaster area from to Utaphao, Thailand, and Diego Garcia, as well as flying Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief (HADR) missions to the affected region.[7]

Awards & Commendations[edit]

Aircraft assignments[edit]

The squadron was assigned the following aircraft, effective on the dates shown:[1]

  • PBM-3 - September 1942
  • PBM-3C - December 1942
  • PBM-3S - May 1943
  • PBM-5E - April 1945
  • P2V-2 - December 1947
  • P2V-3 - January 1949
  • P2V-5F - July 1955
  • P-3A - August 1962
  • P-3B - December 1965
  • P-3C UII - August 1981
  • P-3C UII.5 - September 1985
  • P-3C UIIIR - June 1994

Home port assignments[edit]

The squadron was assigned to these home ports, effective on the dates shown:[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Roberts, Michael D. (2000). Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons, Volume 2, Chapter 3 Patrol Squadron (VP) Histories (2nd VP-5 to 2nd VP-8). Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy. pp. 64–73. Retrieved 27 June 2016. 
  2. ^ Official VP-8 History, pp. 67–68
  3. ^ Official VP-8 History, pp. 67–68, 70
  4. ^ a b On-line VP-8 Unit History
  5. ^ Official VP-8 History, p. 70
  6. ^ a b c Official VP-8 History, p. 68
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Patrol Squadron Eight History". Patrol Squadron 8 - U.S. Navy. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  8. ^ a b c Official VP-8 History, p. 69


External links[edit]