Patrol Squadron TWO SIX [VP-26]
Patrol Squadron 26, a member of Patrol Wing FIVE, is a Maritime Patrol Squadron with a worldwide theater of operations. Although the "TRIDENTS" are homeported at U. S. Naval Air Station, Brunswick, Maine, their reputation is known throughout the world. As a result of the squadron's versatility and mobility, the men and women of VP-26 have made friends everywhere they have traveled.
The squadron's history may be traced back to August 26, 1943, when Bombing Squadron 114, flying the PB4Y Liberator, was tasked with convoy protection duty during World War II. Our squadron directly protected the Allied Fleet from U-boats during the Normandy invasion in June 1944. In 1947, VP-26 actively participated in the Berlin Airlift, flying tons of medical supplies to the isolated Berliners. In 1948, the designation was changed to Patrol Squadron 26 and the squadron was based in Port Lyautey, Morocco until 1950. In 1951 the squadron received its second type of aircraft, the P-2V Neptune, and subsequently moved from Patuxent River, Maryland to Brunswick, Maine. While deployed at Thule, Greenland in 1956, all of the squadron's twelve Neptunes flew over the North Pole, making it the first Navy unit to accomplish this.
Some of the highlights in the 1960's include support of the Quarantine during the Cuban Missile Crisis, transition to the P-3 Orion in 1966, and operations in Southeast Asia where several members earned Air and Campaign Medals and the squadron earned the Fleet Air Wing THREE Battle Efficiency Excellence"E" Award. VP-26 played an integral role in the VietnamWar, participating in Operation Market Time and surveillance of hostile traffic at sea and ashore. Two aircraft and their crewmembers were lost in combat. We will never forget their ultimate sacrifice in the name of duty. A college scholarship established by the squadron memorializes them.
The Tridents participated in numerous North Atlantic and Mediterranean deployments from 1968 to 1980. VP-26's outstanding performance throughout these extensive operations earned the squadron the Navy Unit Commendation, two CNO Safety Awards, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, the Captain Jay Isbell Trophy for excellence in ASW, and designation as the Navy's only active duty Bicentennial Squadron.
In 1979, VP-26 transitioned to the P-3C Update II. In 1980,the squadron deployed to Kadena, Okinawa where the Tridents received the Navy Expeditionary Medal for activities in the Indian Ocean. In May 1981, Patrol Squadron 26 introduced Harpoon Missile Capability to the Mediterranean theater. In the remainder of the 80's, VP-26 deployed to Keflavik, Iceland, Rota, Spain, Lajes, Azores, and various other countries to include England, Turkey, Africa, and the Ascension Islands. In 1989, the squadron received its second consecutive Battle "E".
As the world scene changed in the 1990's, Patrol Squadron Twenty-Six faced new challenges. With the disintegration of Yugoslavia, VP-26 saw three consecutive deployments to Sigonella, Italy. While at Sigonella, squadron employment ranged from the traditional to the cutting edge. Detachments were sent to Saudi Arabia to monitor the United Nations embargo against Iraq. Over the Adriatic Sea, VP-26 enforced the embargo against the former Yugoslavia in the first continuous armed patrols in theMediterranean since World War II, carrying live torpedoes and Maverick missiles. The squadron also was among the first to conduct electro-optic surveillance patrols overland and to visit emerging Eastern European democracies.
In January 1995, the Tridents began an intense seven month transition to refit P- 3C Update III aircraft. This transition was completed in February 1996.
VP-26 continued to set records during their 1996-97 tri-site deployment to Iceland, Puerto Rico, and Panama. They cued the highest drug interdiction rate ever and set a record for"real world" submarine contact. VP-26 was awarded the1996 COMNAVAIRLANT Battle Excellence "E" Award.
The squadron's most carefully guarded achievement continues to this day -- more than 35 years (1997) of mishap-free flying -- a worldwide record which encompasses all types of aviation.
In August 2002 VP-26 was recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration as the safest aviation organization, military or commercial, for flying 40 years with no accidents. The Squadron achieved the long standing safety record by strictly following the Naval Aviation Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) and working as a team. The last incident for VP-26 was Aug. 4, 1962, when a P-2E Neptune was lost in an explosion and fire during ground maintenance. The incident was listed in the Safety Center report as the "main primer line of the impeller section being improperly connected."
Fortunately, no injuries or deaths resulted from the incident. Since then, the Tridents have upheld their commitment to put safety first, both on the ground and in the air.
Over 5,300 current and former Tridents have served in the Patrol Squadron and contributed to the honor of being the only aviation organization to ever achieve 40 consecutive years of mishap-free flying.
Two thirds of VP-26 have taken over as Squadron in Charge of Naval Station Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico for six months, and one third of the crew is spending their deployment in Iceland.
Their mission at Roosevelt Roads is to patrol South America, Europe, and the North Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans to prevent drugs from entering the United States. Their homeport is in Brunswick, Maine, but deployments are necessary to contribute to the efforts of fighting America's War on Drugs.
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