NAVAL AIR STATION OCEANA, Va. (NNS) -- Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 56, the "Globemasters" of Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Va., gained their first C-40A Clipper transport aircraft in a transfer from the "Conquistadors" of VR-57, based in NAS North Island, Calif., March 2.
Aircraft commander Lt. Cmdr. Greg Baumgartner from VR-56 and co-pilot Lt. Cmdr. Alan Greer of VR-57, and a crew from VR-56 including Crew Chief Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Thomas Wulforst; Crew Chief Trainee Chief Naval Air Crewman Steven Webb; Loadmaster Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Dennis Brown; and 2nd Loadmaster Naval Air Crewman 2nd Class Benjamin Wallace ferried the aircraft on the four-and-a-half hour flight from Naval Air Station (NAS) North Island near San Diego, Calif., to its new home aboard NAS Oceana, Va.
The C-40A is a military derivative of the 737-700 commercial airliner with a main-deck cargo door that was modified at Boeing's Wichita facility for troop and cargo transport missions. Since the first delivery to the Navy in April 2001, the C-40A continues to be phased in to replace the Navy's aging fleet of C-9B Skytrains.
VR-56's last C-9B was retired in December 2011.
The Navy originally took delivery of aircraft 166696 from Boeing Commercial Airplane's Global Transport and Executive Systems in Wichita, Kan., Oct. 21, 2011, and was initially put into service with VR-57.
Since October, the aircraft has flown more than 92 missions, logging more than 267 flight hours.
The Clipper flies the Navy unique fleet essential airlift (NUFEA) mission, providing high-priority cargo and passenger airlift for the U.S. Navy fleet worldwide.
The C-40A is certified to operate in three configurations: all passenger configuration of 121 passengers, all cargo configuration (up to eight pallets), or a combination configuration of 70 passengers and up to three pallets.
According to VR-56 Commanding Officer (CO) Cmdr. Mike Gravitt, the delivery of this aircraft is significant for both the Navy and the command.
"The 35-year old C-9B has been rendered obsolescent when compared to the C-40A Clipper," he said. "The Clipper has a larger passenger and cargo capacity than the C-9; this coupled with more efficient engines and higher reliability, the C-40A actually represents an operational cost savings for the Navy."
As a taxpayer, it's great that we can perform this important mission in a fiscally responsible and efficient way," Gravitt said.
"As the CO of the 'Globemasters' of VR-56, it is rewarding to be able to provide a rapid response to short-fused tasking that allows the command to enable critical missions of other Navy units, especially ones that are forward deployed."
Gravitt spoke on behalf of the entire squadron as he accepted the aircraft for service with VR-56.
"The Sailors of VR-56 are proud of their hard work since standing down the C-9 in November, and this hard work has manifested itself in the command's ability to operate the highly capable C-40A Clipper," Gravitt said.
The aircraft is the first of three Clippers that will go into service with VR-56. The remaining aircraft are expected to go into service with VR-56 later this May.
Fleet Logistics Support Squadrons have no counterpart in the active force. Its mission represents 100 percent of the Navy's intra-theater air logistics capability. The VR mission extends around the globe to Europe, the Western Pacific, Southwest Asia, South America, the Mediterranean, and Africa. Fleet Logistics Support Squadrons continue to play an active and vital role in making the Navy an effective and mobile arm in support of the nation's defense.
For more information about Commander, Naval Air Forces, visit www.cnaf.navy.mil.