JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 2010 Minden High School graduate and Minden native is serving with Patrol Squadron Sixteen (VP-16), also known as the “War Eagles.”
Airman Hannah Emerson is an aviation ordnanceman 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 lbs. (max gross) and can travel over 560 miles per hour and nearly 1,380 miles on a tank of gas.
As an aviation ordnanceman, Emerson’s job duties are to receive, inspect, package, store, handle, and process for shipment: airborne weapons, air launched torpedoes, aerial mines, sonobuoys, pyrotechnics and ammunition; maintain, test, assemble, load, download, arm, and de-arm all airborne weapons, aircraft gun systems, targets, sonobuoys, and pyrotechnics for aircraft carriage.
“I load weapons on aircraft,” Emerson said.
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 came from helicopters, so it’s been different, but enjoyable,” Emerson said.
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.
Emerson also said she is proud of the work she is doing as part of the squadron’s 260-member team, helping to protect America on the world’s oceans.
“VP-16 is a squadron full of respectful and professional sailors,” Emerson said.
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 helped loading sonobuoy’s on aircraft to help with the search mission,” Emerson said.
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,” Cmdr. Daniel Papp, VP-16’s commanding officer said. “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 is second to none.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest maritime patrol aircraft platforms, Emerson and other VP-16 sailors are proud to part of a warfighting team that readily defends America at all times.