JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 2007 Orange Park High School graduate and Jacksonville native is serving with Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP-16), also known as the "War Eagles."
Ensign Michael Speicher, the son of Lt. Cmdr. Scott Speicher, who was killed in the opening hour of the Gulf War, is an intelligence officer with VP-16, a Jacksonville-based squadron that operates the Navy's newly-designed maritime patrol aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon. Each aircraft has an aircrew of nine, is nearly 130 feet long, may weigh up to 188,200 pounds (max gross) and can travel over 560 mph and nearly 1,380 miles on a tank of gas.
As an intelligence officer, Speicher's works with the information the P-8A collects.
"It's my job to collect information gathered by equipment on the P-8 and disseminate it to the Navy," said Speicher.
The Navy's replacement platform for the P-3C, the P-8A Poseidon, is designed to secure the Navy's future in long-range maritime patrol capability, while transforming how the Navy's maritime patrol and reconnaissance force will man, train, operate and deploy.
"I think it's amazing, especially from an intel point of view, it's the newest and one of the best intel gathering platforms in the Navy," said Speicher.
The P-8A provides more combat capability from a smaller force and less infrastructure while focusing on worldwide responsiveness and interoperability with traditional manned forces and evolving unmanned sensors.
Speicher also said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the squadron's 260-member team, helping to protect America on the world's oceans.
"Everyone is very close here, we have a very close officer wardroom here," said Speicher. "The travel opportunities have been great too. I've been to places I never thought I'd be able to go to. We went to Okinawa, Japan and places throughout Southeast Asia on our last deployment."
The P-8A leverages the experience and technology of the P-3C's capabilities and assets to meet the Navy's needs of developing and fielding a maritime aircraft equipped with significant growth potential, including an extended global reach, greater payload capacity, higher operating altitude, and the open systems architecture.
The War Eagles were the first squadron to deploy with the new P-8A platform. One of their first major missions had international attention as they participated in the international search effort for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean.
"I just joined up with the squadron as soon as that mission started. I was on the receiving end of all the intel that the crews were gathering while out searching for the missing plane," said Speicher.
Sailors' jobs are highly varied in VP-16. Approximately 60 officers, 200 enlisted men and women make up and keep all parts of the squadron running smoothly — this includes everything from maintaining aircraft airframes and engines, to processing paperwork, handling weaponry, and flying the aircraft.
"Every day I feel an extraordinary amount of pride to serve alongside our great Nation's most inspiring men and women," said Cmdr. Daniel Papp, VP-16's commanding officer. "Our team is filled with hardworking and highly qualified professionals who hold uncommon levels of responsibility and accountability in support of our mission: To provide maritime patrol services to the fleet in support of national interests. Their work ethic, commitment, enthusiasm, and esprit de corps are second to none!"
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy's newest maritime patrol aircraft platforms, Speicher and other VP-16 sailors are proud to part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.