VP-16 Squadron returns to NAS Jacksonville

Crew assisted with search of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Patrol Squadron 16 and its 20 crew members returned home to Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Wednesday morning.

The last nine months have been long for its crew. The NAS Jax-based aircraft deployed in November. During their journey, the crew completed 365 operational missions and logged more than 3,700 flight hours.

A notable mission of the VP-16 was its help in the search for the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. The squadron searched more than half-million square miles in the Indian Ocean.

In March, Capt. Sean Liedman discussed what the mission entailed.

"Floating objects in the maritime domain move around significantly due to wind and current and wave action, sometimes as much as 3-4 mph," Liedman said. "So over the course of a 24-hour period, floating debris could move by as much as maybe 75 miles."

Twenty people from NAS Jax are a part of the VP-16 Sqaudron -- nine air crewman and 11 people on the ground for maintenance support.

When VP-16 was called to help in the search, Liedman said the crew was ready to help as long as they were needed.

"We'll continue to search until the mission is complete or we move on to the next phase of the search until more information comes to light to refine our search area," Liedman said.

Those onboard said the mission was special to them.

"Couldn't be more pleased with our crew, and it was an honor for us to be there and we gave it our all," Cmdr. Daniel Papp said.

"For each one of those people missing, they all have a mother, they have a brother, a father, a sister, a best friend," Lt. Adam Schantz said. "So we were also working for those folks, trying to give them closure to what is a tragic loss in their lives."

The squadron, also known as The War Eagles, was impressed with its first mission on the new P-8A Poseidon planes.

"It was reliable, it was quick to get on station, it carried a long payload, allowed us to do our job to track submarines," Schantz said. "It did exceptionally well in a surveillance reconnaissance, could not be more pleased with the performance of the aircraft."