USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea --
A Marine glances down from the back of a static MV-22 Osprey with a rope in her hand. Between her and the deck of the hangar bay is 30 feet of air. She looks to the instructor beside her then back down when she gets the signal to go. She steps out with a leap of faith and firmly grips the rope as she descends to the floor.
Reconnaissance Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, facilitated a static fast-rope training event for Amphibious Recon Platoon, Force Recon Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines, and anyone else interested on the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) here, Mar. 1.
Fast roping is a technique the MRF utilizes for operations where landing a helicopter is not viable; such as during a visit, board, search and seizure operation or a maritime interdiction operation.
“We fast rope because in a visit, board, search and seizure operation, it might be the only option we have,” said Cpl. Alex J. Pecorella, a team leader with the BLT 2/5 security element, MRF, 31st MEU, and a native of Orlando, Fla. “It enables us to land in a small area where a helicopter can’t land, or would not want to land, if hostile forces are present.”
The event also incorporated Marines and sailors from other occupational specialties to learn new skills, such as how to descend a rope and properly break the fall.
“It is an essential (skill) to have,” said Sgt. Kristopher Gates, a primary Helicopter Rope Suspension Technique Master with MRF, 31st MEU, and a native of Cranston, R.I. “By conducting training with various units, it allows us to attach them to our platoon for specific operations if need be.”
The purpose of the event was to certify the MRF in preparation for upcoming amphibious integration training and certification exercises.
Fast rope training required a 90 foot rope suspended from the back of an Osprey, welder’s gloves, helmets and eye protection. Participants were divided into different sticks that were lead either by a team leader or a HRST Master. The sticks were guided to the ship’s flight deck to climb onboard the Osprey and fast rope back down.
Not only did the event break up the monotony of life at sea, but it also tested some Marines’ will to try something new.
“I was pretty nervous because I have never [fast roped] before, but the [HRST Master] showed me how to do it,” said Cpl. Maricela Tanon, a safety and survival seat mechanic with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced), and a native of Kansas City, Kan.
“It looked scary, but the HRST masters knew what they were doing, so I trusted them,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class, Kirtney S. Lim, a Navy corpsman with CLB 31, 31st MEU, and a native of Cape Coral, Fla.
The 31st MEU is currently conducting amphibious integration training alongside Amphibious Squadron 11 while deployed for its regularly scheduled Spring Patrol.