Experience the Life of an EA-3B Skywarrior Crew During a Mid-1980s WestPac Deployment
Bruce “Shooter” Gamble was a Navigator with Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron ONE (VQ-1) World Watchers between 1982 and 1985. His recording of his deployment with VQ-1 Detachment Charlie aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) captures the sights, sounds, and the visceral impact of EA-3B Whale flight ops from carrier decks. But don’t take our word for it. See for yourself. The video was uploaded to YouTube by Bruce Gamble.
The World Watchers Have Some History
The World Watchers operated several types of aircraft during their history. They squadron was established in 1955 flying Martin P4M-1Q Mercators. Lockheed WV-2Q Super Connies (Willie Victors) were the squadron’s long-range assets until replaced by the Lockheed EP-3E Aries I or Aries II variants of the venerable Orion beginning in 1969. VQ-1 operated Douglas EA-3B Skywarriors between 1959 and 1989. After the EA-3Bs were retired VQ-1 flew only the Aries I and Aries II. Today VQ-1 is the Navy’s only dedicated Fleet Air Reconnaissance squadron tasked with the electronic signals intelligence (SIGINT) mission.
It Takes a Carrier Air Wing
The 1984-1985 WestPac/IO deployment was the Carl Vinson’s third deployment. The cruise began on 13 October 1984 and concluded on 24 May 1985. During this deployment Carrier Air Wing ONE FIVE (CVW-15) consisted of VF-51 Screaming Eagles and VF-111 Sundowners flying the Grumman F-14A Tomcat, VA-27 Royal Maces and VA-97 Warhawks flying the Ling-Temco-Vought A-7E Corsair II, VA-52 Knight Riders flying the Grumman A-6E and KA-6D Intruder, VAW-114 Hormel Hawgs flying the Grumman E-2C Hawkeye, VAQ-134 Garudas flying the Grumman EA-6B Prowler, VS-29 Dragonfires flying the Lockheed S-3A Viking, VQ-1 World Watchers Detachment C flying the Douglas EA-3B Skywarrior, and HS-4 Black Knights flying the Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King.
The Rest of the Team
During the Vinson’s WestPac deployment the ship was escorted by the Virginia-class nuclear powered guided missile cruiser USS Texas (CGN-39), the Leahy-class guided missile cruiser USS Leahy (CG-16), the Spruance-class destroyers USS Hewitt (DD-966) and USS Ingersoll (DD-990), the Charles F. Adams-class guided missile destroyer USS Buchanan (DDG-14), the Knox-class frigate USS Downes (FF-1070), the Wichita-class replenishment oiler USS Roanoke (AOR-7), and the Kilauea-class ammunition ship USS Kiska (AE-35). Also supporting the Battle Group was the Wichita-class replenishment oiler USS Kansas City (AOR-3). Port calls for the Battle Group included Pearl Harbor, Subic Bay, Yokosuka, Hong Kong, Fremantle, and San Diego.