Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. --
Swimming 500 yards doesn’t sound hard. Imagine swimming those 500 yards wearing more than 100 pounds of gear, carrying a weapon and not allowing the electronic equipment in your bag to get wet. If that isn’t enough, add an opposition force on the beach trying to make sure you don’t make it to shore.
Swimming those 500 yards are the Marines of 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, during a training exercise off the coast of Curacao, Nov. 16.
The men of Force Company are trained in using scuba gear to fin across the waterways due to extensive training in amphibious assaults. Recon Marines would kick for almost an hour to cross 500 yards of water, which could wear the Marine out before they even hit the beach for their missions.
Now, implementing innovative gear used for diving, the Marines’ task has become easier.
“A (diver propulsion device) is a unit that allows service members to insert into beaches from many kilometers off the shore without breaking the surface.” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brendan O’Toole, a navy diver with Marine Special Operation Battalion, Marine Special Operation Command.
The DPD allows the Marines to start from further off the coast and save their energy for when they get on land. It also allows them to stay under the surface of the water for the entire distance.
“Recon’s job is to slip in and out of places unnoticed,” said Lance Cpl. Wayne Haas, a team member with second platoon. “The DPD allows us to start far offshore underwater and scuba into just about any shoreline.”
The unit is a long tube that one Marine lies down on behind a cockpit used for driving, while a second Marine holds on to the back half. The unit can travel up to 60 kilometers.
“The recon Marines can now start further away from their objective and not get worn out prior to starting their mission because of DPD,” said O’Toole. “The less time they are above the water’s surface, the less chance they have to be seen.”
This training is part of Force Company’s rigorous evolution in preparation for their official activation scheduled for Dec. 19.