Grosse Ile VP Crew Tracks Submarine
In April 1959, Naval Reserve units took part in an Atlantic Fleet Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW), training exercise called "LANTSLAMEX.” This exercise ran for one week from 0800, Wednesday, April 15 to 0800, Wednesday, April 22. The air units were to locate, track and simulate an attack to destroy submarines that were to make a simulated missile launch on east coast cities. NAS Grosse Ile (NASGI) reserve patrol (VP) and antisubmarine (VS) squadrons deployed to NAS Brunswick, Maine, and NAS Quonset Point, Rhode Island, respectively.
The VP crews were required to be on station around the clock and most crews flew 10 to 12 hour flights during the week’s exercise. Many flights required 2 or more hours to get to the assigned Atlantic Ocean patrol area, then 6 hours on station, followed by at least 2 hours to return to base.
The crew of P2V-5F BuNo 124875, side number 201, was made up of members of NASGI’s reserve VP squadrons and two active duty NASGI members, LT F. P. Gigliotti, Patrol Plane Commander and John P. Sanger, AT1, Radio Operator. This crew flew four missions during this exercise, averaging about 11 plus hours of flight time on each patrol.
Our last flight was to patrol an area across the entrance to Boston Harbor between Cape Ann and Cape Cod from midnight until the exercise was over at 0800. The flight departed NAS Brunswick about 2200 on April 21, arriving in the patrol area before midnight. Our P2V-5F flew a routine search pattern in the assigned area, giving position reports each hour. Shortly after sunrise after 0600, the observer in the bow called "Snorkel,” the crew jumped into action, a flare was dropped over the reported contact, then a sonobuoy pattern was laid to attempt to maintain contact and allow our sensor operators to hear the submarine and plot its track and speed. Low altitude runs at approximately 200 feet were then made as we executed magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) runs over the area. Flares were dropped at each positive MAD contact, followed by dropping flares and practice depth charges (PDCs). While the submarine did not acknowledge the attacks, the crew had no doubt that a successful detection, localization and attack had taken place. With the exercise termination time of 0800 approaching, we departed station to return to base. At arrival at NAS Brunswick we had been in the air well over 10 hours.
After returning to NAS Brunswick, the crew was held over another day for debriefing while the exercise monitors at Fleet Air Wing THREE examined logs and tapes to validate our patrol summary. After fleet examination of submarine recordings and our crew records, it was determined that our PDCs had indeed completed a successful attack on the target submarine. (See "VP Crew April 1959" photo in John P. Sanger photo collection.)(Any assistance in identifying other members of this crew would be appreciated)
John P. Sanger, Lt. USNR Ret.
F. Pat Gigliotti, Capt, USN, Ret.