WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, Okinawa, Japan — Special Operations Training Group certified Marines of multiple units to be combat rubber reconnaissance craft coxswains during a coxswain course here May 23.
3rd Radio Battalion, 3rd Intelligence Battalion and SOTG are all part of III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF, and 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion is part of 3rd Marine Division, III MEF. Each took part in the training.
The four-week training evolution certified the Marines as coxswains, or boat operators, according to Cpl. Wesley R. Hall, a small-craft mechanic with SOTG.
“During the course, the students learn all skills necessary to handle the CRRC in any situation,” said Hall.
Students learned about small-boat handling, navigation, alongside drills, how to tie nautical knots, and all parts of the CRRC during the course.
“The course begins with the students familiarizing themselves with the CRRCs,” said Hall. “They study every aspect of the CRRC from bow to stern.”
The Marines added to their knowledge of the CRRC and spent several hours performing small-boat handling drills.
“During small-boat handling, we practiced maneuvering the CRRCs in confined spaces,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew M. Rodriguez, a special communications signals collection operator with 3rd Radio Bn.
Marines also practiced landing the CRRCs on the beach.
“While landing on the beach, the coxswain must know what the signal plan is and coordinate that with the Marines on the beach because those are the Marines signaling the CRRCs to shore,” said Gunnery Sgt. Joshua P. Turner, the lead amphibious raid instructor with SOTG. “This is important so that the CRRCs hit center on the beach.”
The beach will usually be marked with either chemical luminescent sticks or infrared flashers, according to Turner.
“When assaulting the shore, a boat company uses 18 CRRCs and sends six CRRCs per wave,” said Turner.
In addition to practicing their beach approaches, students also practiced pulling alongside moving boats, known as alongside drills.
“Alongside drills are when the CRRCs ride alongside another boat and turn into the boat and ride the throttle,” said Rodriguez. “This action sticks the CRRC to the boat, so that Marines can on or off-load for a quick exchange.”
The Marines would use the alongside approach in an operation if they needed to be quickly picked up or dropped off when conducting a raid, according to Hall.
Students would also use the skills learned during dives, reconnaissance missions and as a safety boat driver, according to Hall.
“The Marines became proficient coxswains by practicing continually,” said Hall. “Repetition is the key to anything. With so many moving parts, it is important to know what do to in every situation.”
With the completion of the course, students can now perform missions where a CRRC is needed.
“There are times my unit performs training exercises where we need to get a coxswain from other units to do the training,” said Rodriguez. “I can now take this skill back to my unit and conduct those operations and train other Marines in the basics of being a coxswain.”