VP 47 P-3 Patrols Black Sea

VP 47 P-3 Patrols Black Sea

The Golden Swordsmen of Patrol Squadron (VP) 47 flew their first mission July 16 in support of the multinational surface ships operating in the Black Sea on the first day of the underway operations phase of Sea Breeze 2013. 

Flying the P-3C Orion aircraft, the crew used their expertise in maritime domain awareness to help provide a clearer surface contact picture to Ukrainian frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy (U130), Turkish fast attack craft TCG Meltem (P-334), and Romanian frigate Marasesti (F-111).

“Our tasks during Sea Breeze is to work with our partners in training for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” said Lt. Cmdr. Tim Ewing, VP-47 mission commander. “We work with our Ukrainian partners and the ships providing surveillance of the area and a common operating picture of what’s going on in the area of responsibility.”

In a true demonstration of cooperation and partnership, the Ukrainian ship Sahaydachniy provided the command and control of the P-3.

“The ship operated as the on-scene commander, using its radar picture to identify contacts of interest, and then had us go make a visual identification,” said Ewing. “Essentially, we helped build the picture for the surface ships in maintaining maritime security.”

The security in Sea Breeze 2013 is necessary to support a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief scenario being executed cooperatively by the multinational exercise participants.

“The exercise is a chance to practice with our partners in case of a real humanitarian assistance situation,” said Lt. Nicole England, tactical coordinator. “We conducted maritime domain awareness operations today. We worked with the surface units to give a better understanding of what was around them.”

Even when the aircraft lands, the work for the crew isn’t complete. The aircraft must remain ready to respond to emergent tasking.

“Our job is to keep the aircraft ready to perform and to be ready to respond to tasking,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Dustin Snider, one of the VP-47 maintainers. “When the aircraft comes in from an operation, we recover it, fix anything that needs fixed, and keep it ready to go back out.”

Additional air support to Sea Breeze 13 is being provided by a Ukrainian Mi-14 and a Ka-27, embarked in Sahaydachniy, and a German C-160, working with Ukrainian paratroopers.

This year’s participants include Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Italy, Romania, Turkey, Ukraine and U.S., along with France, Germany, Libya, Lithuania, Qatar, and UAE, as observers.

Sea Breeze 13, an annual multinational exercise in the Black Sea, is a combined air, land and maritime exercise designed to improve maritime safety, security and stability in the Black Sea by enhancing the capabilities of Partnership for Peace and Black Sea regional maritime security forces.

Press Release, July 17, 2013; Image: US Navy