Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
Marines with Marine Attack Squadron 223 trained to obtain underwater helicopter escape certifications at the Camp Lejeune combat training pool Oct. 3.
Before deploying with a Marine Expeditionary Unit, Marines must qualify to ensure they understand the proper use of safety gear and can execute emergency egress procedures properly in an event of a helicopter crash. Marines must demonstrate the ability to successfully escape three different types of aircraft simulated by the Modular Amphibious Egress Trainer – the CH- 46 Sea Knight, CH- 53 Super Stallion and the MV-22 Osprey.
The Marines spent hours in the classroom, learning proper brace positions, identifying and properly using the seats and restraints and identifying factors that happen prior to the egress.
After the classroom portion the Marines entered the pool to apply what they learned. The initial focus was learning to breathe compressed air from small personal breathing devices.
The devices provide Marines with valuable minutes worth of air to breathe in the event of an emergency at sea.
“We teach them how to breathe under water first to ensure that they are comfortable before moving on. The Marines must master that step to continue training,” said Deemer.
They then moved on to shallow water egress training chairs where each practiced basic egress procedures and learned to reorient themselves if a helicopter were to capsize in the water.
After demonstrating individual mastery of the basics, the Marines moved onto a more realistic scenario in the Shallow Water Egress Trainer, a larger apparatus that carries more Marines and more closely replicates the conditions of an emergency water landing.
The Marines completed five “crashes” aboard the simulated aircraft with instructors.
Throughout the training, the instructors worked closely with the Marines, boosting their confidence and abilities.
“The main thing we’re trying to teach them here is to safely operate their exits, breathe compressed air under water and to stay calm and in control,” said Deemer.
Course participants said they enjoyed the course, although some had to overcome their personal fears.
“I enjoyed the practical application portion of the training,” said Lance Cpl. Jake A. Brownell, a seat mechanic with VMA-223. “I’m not too fond of water, but the instructors made it comfortable for me to learn.”