By Kayla Good, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs
OAK HARBOR, Wash. – A 2007 Ellison High School in Killeen, Texas graduate and Houston native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, the premier naval air installation in the Pacific Northwest region.
Airman Sterlin Smith is an aviation electrician’s mate serving with Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10.
A Navy aviation electrician’s mate is responsible for ensuring the safety of the pilots and the crew in reference to making sure everything on the P-3C aircraft as far as electricity is intact.
“This job is so different than working in the civilian world,” said Smith. “It’s interesting being able to see the inside of the plane and learn new things compared to just taking a commercial flight.”
According to Navy officials, Wing 10 has continued to fly combat missions in direct support of the troops on the ground and delivered traditional maritime capabilities, real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Beginning in the 1960s, the P-3C Orion, a land-based, long-range anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft, replaced the P-2V Neptune fleet. After 50 years of faithful service and the 50th anniversary of Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force, the P-3C Orion is being phased out of the fleet and replaced by the P-8A Poseidon, according to Navy officials.
The P-8A is a modified Boeing airframe featuring a fully connected, state-of-the-art, open architecture mission system designed for long-range anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface warfare; and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions, Navy officials explained.
“Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10 mans, trains, and equips P-3 and P-8 squadrons to deploy anywhere, anytime,” said Capt. Robert W. Patrick, Commodore of CPRW-10. “These forces are the nation’s first choice for broad area maritime surveillance and rapid response around the world. This is critically important, as we are the eyes and the ears of our national defense, putting pressure on strategic locations around the world. Our sailors are the single biggest asymmetric advantage that allow us to succeed at our missions. Without our sailors’ agility and expertise, we would not be able to do what we do.”
Smith is part of a crew striving to be the best Naval Aviation Wing in the United States, according to Navy Officials. Their mission is to safely build and maintain a team of sailors capable of conducting prompt and sustained combat operations.
“I get to meet a lot of new people while serving with this squadron,” Smith said. “You get everybody from different corners of the states, different cultures, that bond together as one team.”
According to Navy officials, the Navy continues to meet milestone after milestone on this world-class mission and is providing an aircraft with superior capabilities to the men and women in uniform that will have a lasting legacy promoting a global maritime strategy.