News: Life-Saving Survival Training the JMSDF way
Story by Lance Cpl. David Walters
IWAKUNI, Japan - A total of 290 Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Fleet Air Wing 31 aviators conducted winter-term Life-Saving Survival Training from Jan. 27-Jan. 29, 2014, at the harbor aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
The semi-annual Life-Saving Survival Training takes place once in summer and once in winter and is mandatory for all pilots, but is open to all JMSDF air crew. This was the first time in three years that collective training for aviators was held here in seawater.
“JMSDF installations with aviators conduct this type of training on their own respectively,” said Lt. Cmdr. Takao Yamakawa, public relations officer for FAW-31. “What we are doing here this year, the event you see today, is designed to have all Iwakuni-based aviators go through it here at Iwakuni.”
Participants began the training by firing off two types of flare guns; a flare-gun that launches more than 164 feet high and is visible from 1.24 miles away and a pencil-gun that can shoot flares more than 98 feet high and is visible from .62 miles away. Aviators also set off two smoke signals that burn for approximately 70 seconds; red smoke for day time and grey smoke with a red flashing light for night time.
The next portion of the training consisted of water training where aviators dressed in their cold and water-resistant Taikan Taisui Fuku, translated to warm-waterproof suits. Aviators that fly rotary wing aircraft are required to wear these suits during flight when the sum of the air and water temperature does not add up to more than 87.8 degrees Fahrenheit. The reason being if a problem were to occur in air, not enough time is allowed for the crew put on the suits before the aircraft hits water.
Aviators that fly fixed wing aircraft do not dress in the suits upon boarding, but the suits are installed inside the aircraft for emergencies. Fixed wing aircraft have the ability to soar in case of malfunction, which allows time for the crew to get dressed in the suits before contact with water. Participants had to float in a circle formation with their crew for 15 minutes before swimming to an overturned inflatable-life-saving boat where they had to work as a team to flip it right side up and climb aboard.
After getting the go-ahead from their instructor, aviators had to then disembark from their boat and swim to shore to conclude their training.
“It’s extremely important training in order to protect yourself,” said JMSDF Petty Officer 3rd Class Masanori Inoue. “I’m glad I had an opportunity to get this training in a more realistic situation.”