Patrol & Reconnaissance Wing FIVE
Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing FIVE [COMPATRECONWING FIVE] supervises the training, readiness, logistics and administration of the three Patrol Squadrons based at NAS Brunswick. As Commander of the local ASW Sector, he is responsible for all Patrol Squadron Operations in the Northwestern Atlantic. The staff of 26 officers and 100 enlisted personnel develops Navy maritime patrol tactics, doctrine and operating procedures. Many staff members work in the Tactical Support Center (TSC) where intelligence and surveillance information is analyzed using sophisticated electronic equipment.
The Patrol Squadrons deploy to bases in Italy, Puerto Rico and Iceland on a rotating basis with squadrons from COMPATRECONWING ELEVEN in Jacksonville, Florida, so that only two squadrons are in Brunswick at any one time. From Brunswick and these deployment sites, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing FIVE Squadrons patrol the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Mediterranean daily, locating and monitoring the movements of surface ships and submarines.
Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing FIVE was established in 1937 as Patrol Wing FIVE. The Wing consisted of only two Patrol Squadrons, VP-14 and VP-15, which flew the PBY "Catalina" aircraft. The flagship was the USS OWL, home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. By mid 1939, Commander Patrol Wing FIVE (COMPATWING FIVE) was assigned three more squadrons and merged with Commander Patrol Wings, U.S. Atlantic Fleet (COMPATWINGSLANT) under a single command. The flagship was initially changed to the small seaplane tender USS GANNET, but in May 1940 the command moved its flag to the USS GOLDSBOROUGH, a torpedo boat configured as a seaplane tender.
Following the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, the Wing participated in Neutrality Patrols to ensure the safety of American ships in the Atlantic. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Patrol Bomber Squadrons conducted daylight patrols off the U.S. Atlantic coast, while dawn and dusk patrols were relegated to Fighter Squadrons. Patrol Squadrons conducted Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) patrols around the clock.
In June 1942, the Patrol Wing moved ashore to Naval Air Station (NAS) Norfolk, and the area from Norfolk to Bermuda and south was designated as its primary patrol area of responsibility. Detachments to provide material and maintenance support were established in Jacksonville, Florida and Bermuda. COMPATWINGSLANT and COMPATWING FIVE were established once again as separate commands in July 1942. In November 1942, COMPATWING FIVE was redesignated Commander Fleet Air Wing FIVE (COMFAIRWING FIVE) and its Patrol Squadrons transitioned to PBM and PV aircraft. In August 1943, COMFAIRWING FIVE primarily became a Training Wing by the direction of the Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. January 1944 saw the organization of the COMFAIRWING FIVE ASW Training Unit at Boca Chica in the Florida Keys. This detachment supplemented Gulf Coast Frontier Patrols and provided refresher and advanced ASW, rocket and torpedo training for aircrews. In addition to the many U.S. aircrews trained at Boca Chica, the French Patrol Squadron VFP-1 and a detachment of Brazilian officers received their training in the Florida Keys.
Throughout 1945 and 1946, units associated with Fleet Air Wing FIVE were decommissioned or demobilized to post war levels of men and equipment. In 1948, Commander Fleet Air Wings, Atlantic Fleet and Fleet Air Wing FIVE were again made a unified command when Patrol Squadrons transitioned to the P2V "Neptune" aircraft.
After the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel in 1950, the American reduction-in-forces trend was reversed, and several of the subordinate commands belonging to COMFAIRWING FIVE were recommissioned. Although Fleet Air Wing FIVE was not directly involved in the Korean conflict, its squadrons contributed to the war effort by assuming many of the responsibilities of commands, which had gone to the Pacific. The P5M-1 and the P2V were the mainstays of America's Patrol Squadrons throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. After the Korean conflict, Fleet Air Wing FIVE coordinated the cold war ASW missions of squadrons operating from more than a dozen different bases in Europe, Africa and North America.
The 1960s marked the beginning of a new era in Naval Patrol Aviation. In 1962, Wing FIVE began the transition to the P3A "Orion" maritime patrol aircraft. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, both the P2V and the P3A became internationally well known due to their surveillance of Soviet ships. Fleet Air Wing FIVE aircraft also played an important part in America's early manned space program, helping to locate Mercury and Gemini capsules after splashdown. In 1966, Wing FIVE began deployments in the Western Pacific. Based at Naval Station Sangley Point in the Philippines, squadrons flew patrol and combat missions in support of Seventh Fleet operations in Vietnam.
The present Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing FIVE structure was developed in the early 1970s. Fleet Air Wings Atlantic/Fleet Air Wing FIVE was relocated to Brunswick, Maine and assumed command of Patrol Squadrons TEN, ELEVEN, TWENTY-THREE, and TWENTY-SIX upon the disestablishment of Fleet Air Wing THREE. Patrol Squadrons FORTY-FOUR and EIGHT were transferred to Brunswick in 1970 and 1971 respectively, completing the makeup of COMFAIRWINGSLANT/COMFAIRWING FIVE which returned to its former designation as COMPATRECONFORLANT / COMPATWING FIVE. Three years after the move to Brunswick, Commander Patrol Wing FIVE was again established as a separate command.
With the end of the cold war, Maritime Patrol Squadron assets were reduced and relocated. COMPATWING FIVE disestablished Patrol Squadron FORTY-FOUR in May 1991, Patrol Squadron TWENTY-THREE in December 1994, and Patrol Squadron ELEVEN in August 1997.
COMPATWING FIVE units have played an important role in world affairs throughout the 1990s. Patrol Squadron TWENTY-THREE was the first East Coast maritime patrol squadron in the theater for Operation Desert Shield, providing maritime surveillance throughout the Red Sea. Patrol Squadron EIGHT participated in joint operations during Desert Storm, flying combat sorties in the effort to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. During the mid 1990s with the breakup and subsequent conflict in the former Republic of Yugoslavia, Patrol Squadrons EIGHT, TEN, ELEVEN and TWENTY-SIX were called upon to fly countless sorties in the Adriatic Sea in support of Operation Sharp Guard.
In January 1999, Patrol Wing FIVE received its first P3C Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program (AIP) aircraft. With its greatly improved intelligence gathering capabilities, advanced electro-optical sensing equipment and ability to provide transmission of real time voice, images, and data to battlefield and theater commanders, the P3C AIP aircraft provided COMPATWING FIVE the capability to expand its traditional maritime patrol capabilities overland. In response to this new capability, on 26 March 1999, COMPATWING FIVE was redesignated Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing FIVE (COMPATRECONWING FIVE).
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