History of the Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47

Patrol Squadron Four Seven (VP-47) was originally established with the commissioning of VPB-27 at Harvey Point, North Carolina, 1 June, 1944. The squadron took part in some of the toughest action in the Pacific campaign of World War II. Flying the PBM “MARINER,” VPB-27 served in the Okinawa campaign and flew the dangerous courier missions in the Western Pacific (WESTPAC). Throughout the war, VPB-27 stood strong in the face of the enemy and set the standard for future Navy patrol squadrons. 

In 1949, VPB-27 was re-designated to VP-47 and began flying out of their new home-port in San Diego, California. VP-47 participated throughout the Korean War and continued in support of United Nations forces following the conflict. VP-47 made a homeport change to Alameda, California, and acquired the new P5M-2 seaplane. Adopting the motto “The Best in the West,” VP-47 flew the Navy’s most modern seaplanes on four deployments to Iwakuni, Japan. In 1960, the squadron received the new SP-5B seaplane and changed homeport to Whidbey Island, Washington. They deployed to Sangley Point, Republic of the Philippines, in support of SEVENTH Fleet operations in 1964 and became the first full patrol squadron to be deployed for the Vietnam War.

In March of 1965, VP-47 moved to Moffet Field, California, and transitioned to the new Lockheed Martin P-3A Orion, thus entering the modern era of anti-submarine warfare operations. By January 1966, the Golden Swordsmen were flying the P-3 out of Okinawa and Sangley Point. In June a1967, VP-47 became the first missile-equipped squadron to deploy to WESTPAC with the addition of the AGM-12 Bullpup missile in its arsenal.

From 1968 to 1993, VP-47 deployed with the new P-3A, P-3B and P-3C to Sangley Point, Naha, Adak, Guam, Misawa, Atsugi, Cubi Point, Kadena, Thailand, Diego Garcia, and Masirah, Oman, continuing their legacy of excellence.

In June of 1993, the squadron changed homeport to Barber’s Point, Hawaii. Later that year, VP-47 became the first Extended Echo Ranging (EER) qualified squadron and was the first to deploy EER tactics in real world operations.

During a split-site deployment in November 1996 to Misawa and Kadena, Japan, VP-47 conducted the first non-bilateral USN operations with the Philippines since the departure of U.S. military forces. In addition, VP-47 sent the first crews on detachment to Chennai, India during Exercise Sahara 97.

In 1998, the Golden Swordsmen flew missions in the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and conducted Maritime Interdiction Operations enforcing United Nation’s sanction against Iraq. VP-47 received its first ASuW Improvement Program (AIP) modified P-3C in March 1999. As VP-47 departed for deployment to Misawa, Japan, in June of 1999, they became the last Naval squadron to be stationed at Barber’s Point, Hawaii.

Following another successful WESTPAC deployment, VP-47 took residence at its current homeport, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. In June of 2000, VP-47 successfully hosted maritime patrol aircrews from Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom in support of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2000 exercise.         

In June 2002, VP-47 deployed to Southeast Asia and flew missions over Afghanistan and the Philippines in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF). From December 2003 to May 2004, VP-47 was engaged in all phases of OEF and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF), flying combat missions from Bahrain, Diego Garcia, Afghanistan and Djibouti, in support of coalition forces on the ground, in the air and over the high seas.                         

From November 2005 to June 2006, VP-47 conducted anti-piracy operations off the Horn of Africa while simultaneously patrolling the skies over the Arabian Gulf and Iraq. In January 2006, the squadron located the pirated vessel AL SALAM BOCCACCIO 98 in the Red Sea. 

From October 2007 to May 2008, VP-47 forward deployed to Tallil Air Base, Iraq, in support of OIF with detachments to Djibouti and Al Udeid, Qatar. While deployed, the squadron established Task Group 57.18 at Ali Air Base, becoming the first fully deployed maritime patrol squadron in Iraq and the first naval aviation squadron deployed in a combat zone since Vietnam. The VP-47 Golden Swordsmen supported Central Command, Multi-national Corps-Iraq and FIFTH Fleet in support of counterinsurgency operations. They executed 850 operational sorties and amassed over 6,000 mishap-free flight hours during the deployment. Following their deployment in support of OIF, VP-47 successfully hosted maritime patrol aircrews from Japan, South Korea, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise 2008.

2010 was a brilliant year of operational excellence; VP-47 performed a multi-site deployment to FIFTH and SEVENTH Fleet areas of responsibility in support of OIF and maintaining Maritime Domain Awareness in SEVENTH Fleet.

 In November 2011, VP-47 conducted its first ever deployment to SIXTH Fleet in support of both EUCOM and AFRICOM areas of operation. VP-47 participated in Operations ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR, ENDURING FREEDOM, and JUNIPER SHIELD, and completed a search and rescue ready-alert launch mission from NAS Sigonella, Italy that resulted in the rescue of 69 Somali refugees. This impressive deployment culminated in the execution of 688 sorties and 4,555 mishap-free flight hours.

 The Golden Swordsmen returned to the Sixth Fleet for deployment in June 2013. They staffed a permanent detachment in the 4th Fleet, conducting anti-drug operations out of CSL Comalapa, El Salvador. VP-47 also manned a permanent detachment at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti in support of anti-piracy and anti-terrorism efforts. Temporary detachment sites included Moron AFB, Spain and NSA Souda Bay, Greece. In total, the squadron supported four combatant commanders across three continents.

In August 2013, a VP-47 crew was tasked in flight to support the U.S. military’s response to the crisis in Syria. Subsequent missions were flown from NSA Souda Bay and the Swordsmen increased their presence to three aircraft, four aircrew and forty maintenance personnel.

At its return from deployment in 2013, VP-47 had flown 438 sorties and accrued 2,988 mishap-free flight hours with an impressive 99.5 percent sortie completion rate. For the outstanding performance over the course of the 2013 deployment, the Golden Swordsmen were awarded the 5th Battle Efficiency Award in the squadron’s history.

During RIMPAC 2014, VP-47 demonstrated their maritime expertise by leading the U.S. contingent of a multi-national exercise task force for the P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft where they coordinated and flew countless missions with 22 different Nations. Additionally, the squadron successfully supported two carrier task groups during that time. As of March 2015, VP-47 has accomplished 21 years and over 125,000 mishap-free flight hours.

VP-47 won the prestigious Battle Efficiency award in 1956, 1976, 1992, 1996 and 2013; the Chief of Naval Operations Safety “S” award in 1955, 1957, 1960, 1992, 2011 and 2013; the CAPT Arnold J. Isbell Trophy for ASW excellence in 1975, 2002, and 2012; and the Golden Wrench award in 1994, 2000, 2006, 2009, and 2010. COMNAVAIRPAC BLUE “M” 2015.

 

 

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