From overcoming his fears and personal roadblocks in order to master the complex art of submarine hunting to heading out on his first carrier cruise and working to fit into the Navy’s unique squadron culture to chasing-down Soviet submarines in the Mediterranean during the twilight of the Cold War, Kevin Noonan has strapped us into an S-3 Viking right beside him and has taken us on a thrilling ride. Now, in this fourth and final installment in our Confessions Of An Ancient Sub Hunter series, Noonan reflects on what was and what could have been for the enigmatic S-3, as well as the challenges looming on the horizon for the U.S. Navy’s shrunken anti-submarine warfare community and for the service overall.
We talk everything from secretive ES-3A Shadows, short-lived US-3A ‘Miss Piggies,’ how the Viking and her crews fought to make a name for themselves within the carrier air wing, the relevancy of the aircraft carrier in modern warfare, and what it is really like being the ‘guy in the back’ of a combat jet. So, strap back in, spool-up the turbofans, and prepare to launch!
With the decommissioning of the Essex class anti-submarine warfare (ASW) carriers and the introduction of the S-3 to the supercarriers, deck space that was already at a premium was now jealously coveted. Fighter and attack guys, as well as carrier skippers and air wing commanders (CAGs), wanted as many F-4s, F-14s, A-4s, A-6s, and A-7s as possible to carry out the mission of the attack carrier. The presence of a handful of E-2s, EA-6Bs, and helicopters was tolerated since they served their masters well. The Viking, however, really did nothing to enhance their concept of the warfare they were charged with conducting. So, can you imagine what these gentlemen were thinking in the early to mid-1970s when a squadron of ten S-3 Vikings suddenly invaded their sacred deck-space?