OKINAWA, Japan (Oct. 20, 2011) Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Dylan Bittle of Patrol Squadron (VP) 40 repairs an wingtip light on the port wing of a P-3C Orion. Wing and tail lights serve as an safety indicator to personnel that the aircraft has power applied. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Julian R. Moorefield)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (Oct. 20, 2011) - As the Fighting Marlins of Patrol Squadron (VP) 40 celebrated the middle of their deployment to U.S. Seventh Fleet, they also achieved another milestone in aviation safety. In September, the squadron surpassed 275,000 mishap-free flight hours, an impressive highlight for the aviation community.

"Executing challenging operations while managing an airframe at the end of its service life provide consistent temptations for corners to be cut and procedures to be compromised," said Cmdr. Brett W. Mietus, VP-40's Commanding Officer. "I am immeasurably proud of the entire Fighting Marlin tribe. They have kept their focus and kept us safe."

Since departing Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on May 12, VP-40 aircrews have flown 565 sorties and executed 3,543.7 flight hours while deployed to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa. In Fiscal Year 2011, aircrews flew 5,249.4 flight hours and completed more than 1,600 hours of simulator training.

Since FY 2006, VP-40 has flown an average of 5,017.5 flight hours per year. From May to December 2007, VP-40 flew 6,111.0 flight hours while deployed to U.S. Fifth Fleet. VP-40 estimates that by the completion of November, aircrews will have exceeded 4,200 flight hours while deployed to U.S. Seventh Fleet.

On September 5, 2011, Combat Aircrew (CAC) 8 took off from Kadena Air Base, Japan, at 0445. Five hours into the flight on aircraft BUNO 161610, CAC 8 helped to continue the 47-year streak and achieve the safety record of 275,000 mishap-free flight hours.

"This milestone exemplifies the dedication and professionalism of VP-40," said Lt. Kevin Blake, Mission Commander of CAC 8. "It is truly an honor for our crew to be a part of something that signifies the excellence of past and present Marlins."

While safety is a focus of the U.S. Navy as a whole, safety is most important in the aviation community. Many evolutions present day-to-day hazards for both aircrew and maintenance personnel. Although mission execution remains priority for VP-40, safety is equally as important and crucial to overall mission success.

"Naval aviation is a dangerous business with little margin for error," said Lt. John Parks, VP-40's Aviation Safety Officer. "This milestone is a testament to all of the VP-40 aircrew who go out every day with the utmost professionalism to safely accomplish the mission."