The Etna eruption on February 16 presented a shocking picture of two of the P-8A Poseidons assigned to the VP-46 Gray Knights of the United States Navy patrol squadron at Sigonella Naval Station, Sicily. With the active volcano in the background, this base has been shared by the Italian Military Air Force (AMI) and the United States Navy or US Navy since the middle of the last century and is a key piece for Washington in the strategic Mediterranean. The Etna eruption forced the nearby Catania airport initially for a temporary closure, the activities in Sigonella were far less affected.
The US Navy presence dates back to 1943 when the United States occupied the island as part of World War II and paved the way for Italy to change sides. Since then, the ships of the US Navy have used the ports of the largest island in the Mediterranean, particularly that of Agusta. Eventually an air force base was created to support naval aviation operations, and in 1959 the Naval Air Facility (NAF) Sigonella began operations.
Although VP-46 is headquartered in distant Whidbey Island Naval Station, Washington state, like the other US Navy Vice Presidents, they conduct biannual squadrons in Sigonella to airborne US Fleet VI, Europe and Africa including the Mediterranean as an action area. One of the department’s most important current missions is the patrol over the sea. For these long missions, the P-8A contributes to its long autonomy, as it is versatile. In fact, it is defined as a Multimission Maritime Aircraft (MMA). On the platform of the Boeing 737 airliner, thanks to its sensors and weapon systems, it can carry out anti-submarine and surface war operations or anti-submarine (ASW) / surface warfare (ASuW) as well as surveillance and search missions or secret services, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) , Air Command Post and Rescue or Search and Rescue (SAR). (Julio Maz Sanz). Black to monitor Russian activities.
Photo: Line P-8 on the Sigonella platform, the eruption of the volcano can be seen in the background. (U.S. Navy photo)
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