Commandos get to grips with fast roping
Helicopters from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadron continue to train hard aboard the ‘Commando Helicopter Carrier’ HMS Illustrious, as it steams towards warmer climes of the Mediterranean during Cougar 12, a three-month training exercise.
More than 3,000 sailors and marines are involved in the exercise and since leaving UK waters every opportunity has been taken to further hone the fighting capability of the ship, its Squadrons and the embarked Royal Marines. Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) aircraft are providing vital troop lift capabilities throughout the exercise in addition to an under-slung load facility.
During a dynamic flying programme, Royal Marines from 'Yankee Company’ 45 Commando grasped an opportunity to re-acquaint themselves with Fast Roping training from CHF aircraft.
“For the aircrew it provided an ideal opportunity to practice one of its ‘secondary roles’. Roping is a skill that aircrew have to practice in order to be ‘current’ and add to their level of mission flexibility and capability”, said Lieutenant Mark Halford of 845 Naval Air Squadron, one of the pilots currently embarked with CHF.
The Marines have to practice roping to stay in date; three descents to get qualified and be current. Every descent is gradually increase in height and the amount of kit each man has to carry, until they are descending with weapons and full kit, just as they would for real should the skill be called upon.
Lt Halford further explained,
“Fast roping is one of those exercises that all the marines who get involved will generally enjoy. Given that it has real training value it is a very under practised skill, especially to a ship”.
Sergeant Karl Lockhart, Troop Sgt of 4 Troop Yankee Company 45 CDO RM added,
“This is a great opportunity to practice fast roping with the Sea King. We know for real it’s an excellent way to insert a lot of people onto the target rapidly. Everyone enjoyed it today, as we say in the Marines; train hard fight easy!”
HMS Illustrious called in at Rota in Spain to enable personnel to reset prior to sailing towards Corsica. The next phase of the deployment, supporting Ex Corsica Lion is set to be a busy one, when the Response Force Task Group (RFTG) link up with France's flagship, the aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle - the most powerful surface ship in Western European waters.