End of the Viking

by Steve on January 30, 2009


One by one over the last several years the Viking squadrons have parked their jets and closed the doors for the last time.  Today the Checkmates of VS-22 marked the end of yet another Naval Aviation community.  They were the last of the Vikings.  It’s been almost 14 years since my last flight in a War Hoover but I still hate to see them go.  Primarily because it only confirms what my body has been hinting at for years – I am indeed getting older.  I had intended to mark this passing with a well-prepared and polished piece but I just don’t have it in me at the moment.  I’m rather disappointed that there hasn’t been more official coverage similar to the Tomcat’s sunset a while back but then the S-3 never has received much publicity.  Many talented crews did things with the Viking platform that Lockheed could never have envisioned back in the late 60’s and early 70’s yet whenever I answered “What did you fly?” with “The S-3 Viking” I got the blank stare.  “S” stands for secret, you know…  Then President Bush landed on a carrier deck in “Navy One” which was of course a Viking – the logical choice since it nicely doubled as the VIP yellow cab with dual flight controls.  The CINC could sit up front and put his hand on the stick without unnecessary risk to the crew or ship.  Then it was back to relative obscurity, forgotten until someone had a bad night behind the boat and needed fuel or the Admiral wanted to really reach out and launch a long-range Harpoon strike.

The Viking community had a tough go of it in the early years after transitioning from the propeller-driven S-2 “Stoof.”  The CV concept which grouped fighter, attack, and ASW assets all on one flattop virtually ensured the Viking crews would get the cold shoulder.  CAG didn’t want S-3’s, the ship didn’t want them, plus they had early reliability issues.  Many of the early deployments saw the Viking contingent pushed ashore to free up deck space for more valuable assets.  Viking crews gradually proved their worth, adapted their airframe to the ever-evolving mission, and became an indispensable part of the CV air wing.

Proving once again that the Viking and her crews are innovative and flexible, the last operational deployment saw VS-22 operating not from a carrier deck but based inland at Al-Asad Air Base, Iraq, flying combat recon. At night. Over land. That’s about as far from locating, tracking, and attacking submarines as you can get.

In a sunset tribute to the crews who flew the Viking and the talented maintenance personnel who kept the jets airborne, here are a few appropriate parting shots courtesy of the US Navy:







And to the taxpayers who gave me the opportunity of a lifetime – thanks for the ride.


Parrothead Jeff January 30, 2009 at 6:47


I’m sorry to see the Viking go as well. Growing up in San Diego, they were always there – somewhere. The S-3 even had a pretty darn good airshow demonstration routine!

I just hope someone figures out that these jets can be demilitarized and flown by civilians as warbirds.

RetiredAC1 January 30, 2009 at 12:27

Not all Cag’s shunned the Hoover. Back in 80 on the Saratoga, CAG 3 was Lou Schrieffer a former C.O. of VS22

Bob Geis February 10, 2009 at 20:33

Hey Steve-o,

I went to both VS-22 and the Wing’s disestablishment. Both were extremely well done. I agree with your comment about the difference between the Tomcat and Vikings send off. As always, those who got by with determination, resourcefulness and teamwork did it within themselves, by themselves, for themselves. We had and still have a great community of friends, shipmates, fellow warriors. You can stay in touch by joining the Viking Association. Thanks for your friendship and allowing me to serve beside one of the best people I ever met, you my friend.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: