ABOARD USS BATAAN -- Marines and Sailors from Company E, Battalion Landing Team 2/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, got the drop on helicopter rope suspension training (HRST) here, today, by rehearsing their fast roping skills on the flight deck.
During the training, more than 150 Leathernecks from the company slid out of the belly of CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters from Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron-264 (Reinforced), down nearly fifty feet of rope and onto the flight deck below.
The training marked the first time during the MEU's current deployment that E Co. had roped from airborne helicopters to the ship's flight deck, providing a challenging and realistic twist on a familiar skill, said Sgt. Micah C. Norgard, a squad leader from E Co. and a HRST master.
While the company's troops have practiced their HRST skills here at least once a month since deploying with the MEU, Jan. 6, they had been limited to roping from the flight deck into the hangar bay, which, while useful, doesn't provide the same training value as actually dropping from an airborne platform, explained the Council Bluffs, Iowa, native.
As the MEU's helicopter raid force, it is crucial for the Marines of E Co. to keep their HRST skills sharp for situations when landing a helicopter to offload troops is not feasible, said 2nd Lt. Justin Evert, a platoon commander from the company.
"Fast-roping gives us a tactical option - it's another play in our playbook," added the Menasha, Wisc., native.
In addition to enhancing the troops' tactical skills, the training was also intended to give the Marines a change of pace from their limited training opportunities here.
"It gives the Marines a chance to do something challenging and exciting they don't get to do everyday," explained Evert.
Whizzing down a three-inch thick piece of braided nylon to the deck of a ship was definitely exhilarating, said Lance Cpl. Lee M. Carter, a rifleman from E Co.
"There's a lot of adrenaline going through you before you [fast-rope]," said the Salt Lake City native. "You pretty much just grab on, slide, and focus on technique so you can land safely."
The company plans to continue honing its troops' fast-roping skills with regular training throughout the deployment, said Evert.
The 26th MEU is currently conducting maritime security operations aboard the ships of the Bataan Strike Group. MSO helps set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment, while complementing the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. These operations deny international terrorists the use of maritime environments as a venue for attacks and transportation of personnel, weapons and other materials.
For more on the MEU, including news, videos and contact information, visit www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.