Patrol Squadron Eight (VP-8) was established on 1 September 1942 at NAS Norfolk, Virginia, originally designated as VP-201. The PBM Mariner patrol seaplane squadron deployed to Bermuda in May 1943 to provide antisubmarine coverage for convoys traversing the U-boat-infested Atlantic Ocean, with the squadron making its first attack on a U-boat on 8 July. VP-201 trained intensively in night patrol operations before returning to Norfolk in June 1944. For the remainder of World War II, VP-201 patrolled the Caribbean from Key West and Coco Solo, Panama. On 1 October 1944, the squadron was redesignated Patrol Bombing Squadron 201 (VPB-201).
In May 1946, VPB-201 was redesignated Medium Seaplane Squadron One (VP-MS-1) but was redesignated Medium Landplane Squadron Eight (VP-ML-8) on 5 June 1947 (when it received its first land-based aircraft, the P2V-3 Neptune), and received its current designation, VP-8, on 1 September 1948. VP-8 was equipped with the P2V-2/4, upgrading to the P2V-5F by 1955. In March 1958, VP-8 joined the newly formed Task Group Alpha in the development of antisubmarine tactics.
In 1959, VP-8 upgraded to the P2V-SFS and participated in recovery of prototype Mercury spacecraft. On 13 August 1962, VP-8 became the Navy's first P3V-1 (P-3A) Orion squadron and used its new aircraft from Bermuda in October to conduct surveillance of Soviet shipping as part of the naval quarantine around Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
VP-8 deployed to Bermuda in June 1963, the first of many deployments to overseas bases in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea over the next three decades, performing vital Cold War antisubmarine and shipping surveillance missions. This pattern was interrupted in June 1966 with a deployment to Sangley Point in the Philippines, flying missions in support of interdiction efforts off Vietnam. In July 1971, VP-8 moved to its present home at NAS Brunswick, Maine, and in 1976, switched to the P-3B version of the Orion.
The last Atlantic Fleet operational squadron to operate the P-3B, VP-8 upgraded to the Update II.5 version of the P-3C in 1982. VP-8 participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm on embargo enforcement missions from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 1995, VP-8 acquired the P-3C Update III version, with which the Tigers patrolled the Adriatic Sea enforcing the arms embargo of the former Yugoslavia.