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NAVAL AIR FACILITY MISAWA, Japan — A new group of sub hunters from Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Wash., arrived here this week for a six-month deployment in support of the 7th Fleet.

The “Fighting Marlins” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 40 replaced the VP-8 “Tigers” from Bruns- wick, Maine, on June 6, according to Navy officials.

More than 400 aircrew members, maintainers and other support personnel deployed with the squadron to Japan.

Just less than half of that group is headed to Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

An additional 120 persons from the VP-45 “Pelicans,” based at Jacksonville, Fla., will support VP-40 at both locations during its Japan deployment, said Cmdr. David C. Cutter, VP-40 executive officer.

Patrol squadrons’ personnel and aircraft, the P-3 Orion sub hunter, typically rotate from the States through Misawa and Kadena about every six months.

“These men and women are tasked with keeping a close watch on the Sea of Japan, the Tsugaru Strait and other waters surrounding Japan” and with patrolling Western Pacific waters, according to information at GlobalSecurity.org.

“The crews and their advanced aircraft work closely with other 7th Fleet assets to ensure the safety of shipping in this part of the world.”

While in Japan, the VP-40 squadron’s primary mission is anti-submarine warfare, said squadron officer-in-charge Lt. Cmdr. Brad Upton. “We’re sub hunters,” he said.

The squadron’s other missions include search and rescue, battle group support and bilateral exercises with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force, he said.

The squadron will operate and maintain 11 P-3s between Misawa and Kadena, Upton said.

“We flew a few across and traded (some) with VP-8,” said Cutter of the aircraft.

Though VP-40 has deployed to Japan before — the last time was January 2002 — it’s the first time the squadron has had to integrate with another on this deployment, Upton said.

The change is part of the Navy’s Fleet Response Plan, which “adjusted deployments and recalibrated where everybody goes and when they go,” Cutter said.

The Navy has said the plan is intended to maximize the Navy’s ability to respond to contingencies.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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