News: NSW riggers: Keeping SEALs' chutes in check
Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Leslie Long
NORFOLK, Va. – Special Warfare operators and support technicians, assigned to Naval Special Warfare, rely on a variety of specialized equipment in order to complete their missions. The Paraloft at Naval Special Warfare Logistic and Support Unit 2 (LOGSU-2) provides specialized training and maintenance on a unique piece of equipment, the parachute.
On any given day, the LOGSU-2 Paraloft maintains approximately 300 parachutes that must be inspected every 182 days. The aircrew survival equipmentmen (PR) who perform these checks must complete a long training cycle from the time they check in until they reach the level of jumpmaster.
“A PR who maintains the static-line qualification for one year can attend training for jumpmaster qualification,” said Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 1st Class Jeremiah Cranford, the Paraloft’s Leading Petty Officer.
NSW PRs begin their training by completing the Basic Airborne Course (BAC) at Fort Benning, Ga. Upon graduation from BAC, PRs have five jumps behind them and are ready to begin NSW specific training.
“Candidates for BAC must pass the Army’s physical fitness standards, which are a minimum of a 15 minutes, 54 second two-mile run, 85 pushups and 71 situps,” said Cranford.
NSW PRs, of which there are only about 100 Navy-wide, must also complete sling load training, Military Freefall School, Basic Roper School, helicopter rope suspension training (HRST)/cast master training, and joint aircraft inspection training. Most of the required qualifications are restricted to PRs who are E5 and above.
“In rare cases, the rank restriction can be waived if the PR has successfully met all training and qualification standards,” said Cranford.
Lengthy deployments can lead to the expiration of jump qualifications for NSW members. They are able to utilize LOGSU-2 PRs as jumpmasters for their re-qualification jumps. The PRs are able to serve as jumpmasters for water jumps, land jumps, HALO (High Altitude Low Opening) jumps, fast roping, rappelling, SPIE (Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction) rigs, and FRIE (Fast Rope Insertion/Extraction) rigs.
“When employed by SEAL teams, the PRs act as supervisors to ensure the chute folding procedures have been properly met. We do that to ensure the safety of the jumper and the jumpers around them,” said Cranford.
When LOGSU-2 PRs are not training, they can be found in the Paraloft preparing for unit level training (ULT) air weeks and jump operations. ULT and jump operations include parachute rigging, building boat packages with G-12 cargo parachutes, folding chutes and taking inventory.
“Safety and attention to detail are essential to every PRs success,” added Cranford.
LOGSU-2 PRs spend two to three weeks performing checks on the parachutes by opening the reserve chute then checking and repacking it. The remaining week of each month is used to conduct jump operations.
“Each jumper packs his own main chute with the PRs performing 'rigger checks' to make sure the chute is folded and packed properly,” said Cranford.
Riggers are vital members of NSW as parachute operations have been a core skill-set for SEALs since the community’s inception.