Story and photos by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Amber Porter
Sailors assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 9 held a special meet and greet with Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, to discuss the capabilities of the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft during a static display at Keflavik Air Base on Friday, October 29.
The “Golden Eagles” of VP-9 are conducting operations out of a detachment site away from their main deployed hub and had the honor of meeting with Adm. Ferguson during his visit to Keflavik.
“It was a rush to know that your boss’s boss will be visiting your command,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate Second Class Alece Whitehead. “We did a deep clean with the resources we had and the Naval Aircrewman brushed up on their NATOPS manual.”
VP-9 has been deployed to Iceland several times in the past, both to keep up with current world affairs and also to support allies in their maritime domain awareness in the North Sea.
“Key leader engagements such as this strengthen the bilateral relationship we have with one of our key NATO allies,” said Ferguson during a speech in the tube of the plane. “We value our militaries’ work together and the continued access we have to Iceland’s ports and airfields. We also appreciate the opportunity to routinely exercise our ability to utilize the facilities here.”
Ferguson quizzed the aircraft’s sensor one, two and three about their roles in a mission, joked with the navigational officer and tactical coordinator, asked the in-flight technician to demonstrate a buoy load and finally sat down the pilots for an in-depth discussion.
“It was one of those surreal experiences,” said Naval Aircrewman (Avionics) Leston Olmstead. “You never expect to meet the person who is assigning your missions. He was a pretty cool guy.”
Assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 67, VP-9 is currently on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts. The squadron’s aircraft are primarily used to support maritime patrols and reconnaissance missions.