Patrol Squadron 40 (VP-40) “Fighting Marlins” has received its ninth and final Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, completing the US Navy’s transition from the Lockheed P-3C Orion in its active-duty units.

The aircraft was handed over to the squadron at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, near Oak Harbor, Washington, on May 14.

VP-40 began its transition to the Poseidon in November last year under the direction of VP-30 “The Pro’s Nest” at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. It started after the “Fighting Marlins” had completed the US Navy’s final active duty P-3C deployment and its final Orion – BuNo 162776 (c/n 185-5802) – had been transferred to the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.

P-8A VP-40 [US Navy/CMDR Joseph Parsons] #1
The "Fighting Marlins" are the last active-duty US Navy unit to transition from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon. US Navy/CMDR Joseph Parsons

LT Alan Thornhill, a pilot with VP-40, said: “The P-8 operates very differently from the P-3, but the fundamentals of being a pilot remain the same… The aircraft has a lot more technology [than the P-3C] and can provide its pilots [with] an immense amount of information.”

The US Navy stated that “the first phase of the transition consisted of classroom, simulator and aircraft ground training over the course of two months, [taking] place at NAS Whidbey Island.” 

The second phase introduced in-flight training, which was “executed as a three-month detachment to NAS Jacksonville that concluded with a fleet-model performance in the Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency Inspection.” It also received training support and tactical instruction from other units based from Jacksonville, including VP-26 “Tridents” and the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Weapons School.

P-8A VP-40 [US Navy/MCS2C Jakoeb VanDahlen] #1
Boeing P-8A Poseidon - BuNo 169348 (c/n 63198, line number 6974) - sits on the apron at NAS Whidbey Island. US Navy/MCS2C Jakoeb VanDahlen

CMDR Matt McKerring, commanding officer of VP-40, said: “The hard work of our sailors and the sailors of VP-30 allowed us to complete this transition process so seamlessly… Once again, VP-40 has accomplished our mission successfully and on schedule regardless of any obstacles or challenges. After more than 50 years with the P-3C Orion, the “Fighting Marlins” are ready to tackle another 50 years with the P-8A Poseidon.”

The US Navy’s Poseidon fleet is split between two wings on the east and west coasts of the continental US. The east coast P-8A fleet is centred at NAS Jacksonville under Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 11 (CPRW-11) and the west coast fleet is operated from NAS Whidbey Island by CPRW-10. The US Navy also operates the aircraft under Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1) “Pioneers” and VX-20 “Force” at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.

US Navy active-duty P-8A Poseidon units at NAS Jacksonville and NAS Whidbey Island (as per AirForces Intelligence - June 3, 2020)
Unit Code Unit Code
VP-1 "Screaming Eagles" YB-XXX VP-5 "Mad Foxes" LA-XXX
VP-4 "Skinny Dragons" YD-XXX VP-8 "Fighting Tigers" LC-XXX
VP-9 "Golden Eagles" PD-XXX VP-10 "Red Lancers" LD-XXX
VP-40 "Fighting Marlins" QE-XXX VP-16 "Eagles" LF-XXX
VP-46 "Grey Knights" RC-XXX VP-26 "Tridents" LK-XXX
VP-47 "Golden Swordsmen" RD-XXX VP-30 "The Pro's Nest" LL-XXX
-------------------- ------ VP-45 "Pelicans" LN-XXX