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VMA-231 had just returned from a shipboard deployment during a NATO exercise when they got word they'd be heading back out on the USS Nassau (LHA-4).

They were paired up with another Marine Harrier squadron, VMA-542, that was recalled in short order from training at Twentynine Palms in California.

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But that wasn't quite the end of the Sea Control Ship concept in the United States even though the Royal Navy commissioned the Invincible class V/STOL carriers, with the lead ship HMS Invincible launching in 1977.

In early 1981, the NATO allies had pointed out that US wasn't honoring its defense commitment to have two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean.

The lower cost meant a class of eight could easily be built and quickly to take up ASW patrols in the North Atlantic.

With the support of the Secretary of Defense, Zumwalt had the helicopter assault ship USS Guam (LPH-9) transformed into an interim Sea Control Ship to demonstrate the concept in 1972.

Despite being primarily close-air support tasked, VMA-513 worked on air combat tactics including the use of vectoring the nozzles in forward flight (VIFFing) to increase the maneuverability of the AV-8A in a dogfight.

Wired to also carry AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, the AV-8As during the Guam deployment to the North Atlantic even made intercepts of Soviet Tu-95 Bear and Tu-16 Badger maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

Though the deployment aboard the USS Guam was successful in proving the SCS concept, it was Admiral Zumwalt's retirement in 1974 that ended the SCS program despite preliminary contracts being issued to shipyards for SCS vessels.

Zumwalt's replacement, Admiral James Holloway, was a naval aviator and Rickover student.

In the event of any outbreak of war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact in Europe, the North Atlantic sea lanes would be a vital logistical link between the United States and its forward deployed forces in Europe.

Lacking a significant blue water projection force like the American carrier battle groups, the Soviet Navy embarked on a massive submarine build up to not only counter the carriers but also provide a stealthy means of cutting the North Atlantic sea lanes to disrupt the supply of NATO forces in Europe.

VMA-513, the first Marine Corps Harrier squadron, became operational with the AV-8A the year prior and were selected to form a detachment to deploy on the USS Guam.

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