Looking Back at VF-103 “JOLLY ROGERS“ Last Tomcat Cruise, Homecoming CVW-17
On December 13th, 2004 at 14:00 local, the aircraft of CVW-17 were landing at NAS Oceana, and thus VF-103 finished their last cruise with the F-14B Tomcat. The family members of the crews couldn’t wait for that the pilots to shut down the engines.
CVW-17 flew from the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) 8,296 missions during the cruise, accumulating 21,824 flying hours. A total of 4,396 missions worth 11,607 flying hours were completed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The cruise started on June 7th, 2004; its main operating area was the Persian Gulf, the Arabic Sea and the Gulf of Oman.
The last 10 F-14Bs of VF-103 were old, and were ultimately replaced by brand new FA-18F Super Hornets. The F-14Bs of the Jolly Rogers were a mix of new built F-14Bs (Block 145 and 150-GR) and modernized F-14As, which were upgraded to F-14B (Block 120, 130 and 140-GR) status. Sadly, only a few days later after their last landings in Oceana, the Tomcats were flown to Davis-Monthan AFB and were put into storage.
The FA-18Cs from VFA-34, VFA-81 and VFA-83 landed only a few minutes after the Tomcats, and they were duly received by their families too.
The EA-6B Prowlers were flown to their home base at NAS Widbey Island in Washington, while the S-3B Vikings of VS-30 and the SH/HH-60 Seahawks of HS-15 were flown to NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Finally, the E-2C Hawkeyes of VAW-125 landed at NAS Norfolk, Va..
CVW-17 was reformed for its next cruise on the USS George Washington, and left their home bases in 2006 to arrive aboard for their carrier for another globe-straddling cruise.
The squadrons of CVW-17 in 2004
Modex Squadron Aircraft
100 VF-103 Jolly Rogers F-14B
200 VFA-34 Blue Blasters FA-18C(N)
300 VFA-83 Rampagers FA-18C(N)
400 VFA-81 Sunliners FA-18C
500 VAQ-132 Scorpions EA-6B
600 VAW-125 Tigertails E-2C Hawkeye 2000
610 HS-15 Red Lions SH-60F/HH-60H
700 VS-30 Diamondcutters S-3B
Xx VRC-40 DET.4 Rawhides C-2A