DOHA, Qatar (NNS) -- Cmdr. Derrick W. Eastman relieved Cmdr. Chad J. Livingston during a change of command ceremony for Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 held in the Coalition Compound Theater aboard Al Udeid Air Base, April 29.
Eastman became the "Oldest and the Best" 82nd commanding officer since the establishment of the squadron in 1931.
During his tenure, Livingston led the "Grey Knights" of VP-46 through an inter-deployment readiness cycle (IDRC), which included the deployment of detachments away from homeport to participate in Valiant Shield 2016 while detached to Anderson Air Force Base, Guam; USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) composite training unit exercise and Joint Task Force Exercise (COMPTUEX/JTFEX) while detached to Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island; and Air Wing Fallon while detached to NAS Fallon. Livingston also successfully established the squadron on a scheduled, quad-site, six-month forward deployment, conducting simultaneous operations across the 5th, 6th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility (AOR).
"These quad-site deployments are challenging and difficult for our Sailors, yet in fine Grey Knight fashion, our people have met the challenge head-on and have delivered excellent results, advancing the fleet commander's objectives across three AORs, and that is no small feat," said Livingston. "I have no doubt the Grey Knights will continue to excel on station under the leadership of skipper Eastman."
Under Livingston's leadership, the Grey Knights earned the 2016 Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific Battle Efficiency Award, the Golden Wrench for maintenance excellence, and the Commander, Pacific Fleet Retention Excellence Award.
"I couldn't be prouder of this team. It has been a privilege and honor to have served alongside the Sailors of VP-46, and it was incredibly rewarding to see their hard work and sense of duty highlighted through the receipt of these three prestigious awards," said Livingston.
Additionally, he reveled in the command's achievement of advancing their Pacific Fleet aviation safety record of over 52 years and 345,000 hours of class A and B mishap-free flying. Livingston's next assignment is at the Pentagon.
This will be Eastman's second tour with the Grey Knights. His previous assignments include: VP-46 as a tactical coordinator, instructor at the VP fleet replacement squadron, a "shooter" on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), an individual augment tour with Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, department head with the VP-5 "Mad Foxes," operations officer at Commander, Task Force 57, and prior to rejoining the Grey Knights in June 2016, he served at U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike.
"Following a first-rate leader like Skipper Livingston will be challenging," said Eastman. "The passion and dedication he poured into this winning team has been nothing short of amazing. He took VP-46 to the next level! I am both honored and blessed to have learned from him this past year, and I'm thrilled to be working alongside this amazing group of volunteers. This squadron is special, and it will be my greatest challenge to try and keep up with the Grey Knights!"
Cmdr. Michael Bishop, of Wheeling, West Virginia, is assuming the duties of executive officer. He is joining VP-46 from a tour at the MQ-4 Triton Program Office. This is Bishop's third tour on Whidbey Island. He previously served in VP-46 as a division officer and VP-40 as a department head.
VP-46 is assigned to Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 10, NAS Whidbey Island. The squadron consists of 68 officers and 278 enlisted personnel who maintain and operate nine P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft. The mission of VP-46 is to support Fleet Commander's tasking in the realms of anti-submarine warfare (ASW), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and anti-surface warfare (ASUW). The Grey Knights have the distinction of being the oldest American Maritime Patrol Squadron in the U.S. Navy.
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