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VS-35 Blue Wolves deactivated.

Ceremonies held on 24 March 2005 at NAS North Island, Calif., marked the deactivation (officially 31 March) of Sea Control Squadron 35 (VS-35) after more than 13 years of service. Cdr. Gary M. Wilson was the last CO of the Blue Wolves.

The Blue Wolves were the fourth antisubmarine warfare (ASW) squadron designated VS-35. The first, the Boomerangers, was an S-2 Tracker squadron that served from 1961 until 1973. A second VS-35 was established in October 1976 but shut down six months later without ever flying. The third VS-35, established in March 1987, became the S-3 Viking squadron for the short-lived Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 190, but was disestablished in May 1988 before it ever deployed.

The Blue Wolves were established as Air Antisubmarine Squadron 35 (VS-35) at North Island on 4 April 1991 and equipped with S-3A Viking antisubmarine warfare jets. The new squadron was assigned to CVW-14 on board Carl Vinson (CVN 70). Before its initial deployment, VS-35 upgraded in December 1992 to the S-3B version, which featured ASW and antisurface warfare improvements. VS-35 was redesignated Sea Control Squadron 35 (also VS-35) on 15 December 1993 in reflection of its broadened capabilities.

VS-35 departed on its first deployment to the Western Pacific/Indian Ocean/Arabian Gulf in February 1994. The squadron supported Operation Southern Watch missions over Iraq, providing surveillance and aerial refueling services. The squadron returned home in August 1994 but made a second deployment to the region from May until November 1996.

In June 1998, VS-35 again departed for the Arabian Gulf, this time on board Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). However, before its next deployment, the squadron's ASW role ended when ASW mission equipment was removed from S-3Bs Navy-wide. During a subsequent deployment to the Arabian Gulf in August 2000, VS-35 fielded the surveillance systems upgrade (SSU) capabilities to its S-3Bs. The SSU enhanced the ability of the S-3Bs' APS-137 synthetic aperture radar to accurately track surface targets.

In July 2002, VS-35 deployed with CVW-14 and flew missions from the Arabian Sea in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, the liberation of Afghanistan from Taliban rule, and Operation Southern Watch over Iraq. During a January 2003 port call on the voyage home, Abraham Lincoln was ordered back to the Arabian Gulf, where CVW-14 participated in strikes against Iraqi forces in March. During Operation Iraqi Freedom in April, the Blue Wolves flew 411 sorties and transferred 1.2 million pounds of fuel.

As Abraham Lincoln approached California on 1 March 2003, VS-35's executive officer, Cdr. John Lussier, had the privilege of flying President George W. Bush to the carrier for a welcome and the announcement that major combat operations had ended in Iraq. It was the first time a Navy aircraft was designated "Navy One." The S-3B was later retired to the National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Fla.

VS-35 made its final deployment on board John C. Stennis (CVN 74), departing in May 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The squadron returned home for the last time on 1 November 2004 and began preparing for deactivation.

By LCdr. Rick Burgess, USN (Ret.)
COPYRIGHT 2005 Department of the Navy, Naval Historical Center
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Author:Burgess, Rick
Publication:Naval Aviation News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2005
Words:516
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