New Navy Unit to Replace Special Projects Patrol Squadron

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy has established a new unit to sustain a special mission capability in its maritime patrol community with the coming retirement of the P-3 Orion aircraft.

A Sept. 10 internal directive from the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations directed the establishment on that date of Fleet Support Unit One at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, one of two sites that serve as home bases for the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrols aircraft.

According to the directive, Fleet Support Unit One “will configure and operate P-8 aircraft to provide a follow-on special mission capability in place of [special] projects patrol squadron (VPU) P-3 aircraft due to sundown in 2019.”

The mission of the unit will be to provide “oversight, training, operations, maintenance, and configuration management for the P-8 quick reaction capability aircraft,” according to the directive.

Fleet Support Unit One will have an officer in charge rather than a commanding officer, who will report to commander, Patrol Reconnaissance Wing 11, at Jacksonville.

The Navy’s sole VPU squadron, VPU-2, operates several specially configured P-3C Orion aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The squadron is scheduled for deactivation in fiscal 2019 in concert with the phase-out of the P-3C from operational active-duty patrol squadrons.