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    The Surf Riders of Lake Michigan

    Surf Riders of Lake Michigan

    Photo By Chief Petty Officer John Sorensen | 190316-N-KV163-1038 GREAT LAKES (March 16, 2019) Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Ryan...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 1st Class John Sorensen 

    NR NPASE Midwest

    GREAT LAKES (NNS) – When the Navy needs cargo or warriors moved from ship to shore and beyond there is one unit that comes to mind; Assault Craft Unit One, the “Surf Riders.”

    ACU-1 Sailors find themselves going in harm’s way, doing the grunt work, around the globe. The crafts used vary in size and load capacity, and the mission is just as varied. The Surf Riders support Marine Expeditionary forces by transporting personnel and equipment. They also work outside a strictly military role, provide humanitarian and disaster relief.

    ACU-1 is headquartered at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado across the bay from city of San Diego on the Silver Strand, a strip of land between the San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. NAB Coronado is the west coast focal point for special and expeditionary warfare training and operations. With San Diego also being the home of naval aviation and the second largest homeport for surface ships, one could say there is a very heavy naval presence in the area.

    Supporting ACU-1 is a small detachment of reserve Sailors assigned to Navy Operational Support Center - Chicago, Naval Station Great Lakes. Throughout the year these Sailors train and prepare to work alongside their active duty counterparts at NAB Coronado. And although this group of Sailors is small, they are fortunate that they are provided two Maritime Prepositioning Force Utility Boats for training.

    Forty-one feet long with a fourteen foot beam and a displacement of 20 tons, powered by two Cummins QSM11 engines with a combined output of 1320 horsepower, the twin MPFUBs at NOSC Chicago rumble to life every chance the Surf Riders get. Top cruising speed is 40 knots with a cargo capacity of ten tons or 30 troops, there is a lot of power on a small platform. The ability to mount any combination of the M2 Browning .50 caliber machine gun, Mk19 grenade launcher or the M240 machine gun, these vessels and their five-member crew mean business.

    Lt. Cmdr. Chris Beck, commanding officer, NR ACU-1 det. Great Lakes is thrilled that the Sailors under his command are able to train on Lake Michigan.

    “We are truly a privileged reserve unit. With the tools at our disposal, we are able to train every drill weekend with warfighting skills,” Beck said.

    For half the year Chicago weather is not known for sailing. During the winter months, when the harbor at Great Lakes is frozen over, the Surf Riders work inside a large boathouse with the MPFUBs on a rail system. Two trollies carry the boats on the rails into and out of the boathouse through a pair of very large overhead rolling doors. Man overboard drills, CPR, engine repair and boat maintenance are just a few of the day-to-day activities they perform with the boats out of the water.

    When April rolls around and it’s time to place them in the harbor, a massive crane system is utilized, hoisting the boats high into the air and placing them gently, precisely in the right locations on the floating dock.

    Like all reservists, the Surf Riders at NOSC Chicago spend time taking care of the monthly administrative duties, conducting general military training, physical fitness training, and medical examinations. They work through this quickly and efficiently so they have time to get underway.

    BM1 Ryan Brazel, LPO for the unit recognizes the opportunity his fellow Surf Riders have.

    “We get to be a very active reserve unit. We’re on the water every chance we can get, training to be ready when called,” remarked Brazel.

    School children in the area are fortunate that ACU-1 is at NSGL. Each year the unit is a fieldtrip destination for more than 300 JNROTC students from schools in the Chicagoland area. Rope tying skills, CPR demonstrations and yes, a white-knuckled ride in the surf off the shores of NSGL keep these students coming back year after year.

    “One of my missions is to educate the public about the abilities the Navy has,” said Beck. “When the fieldtrip is over we want the students to understand how important the Navy is and also how beneficial it is to be a Sailor.”

    Beck is extremely proud of the Sailors under his command.

    “Whether its training to hone our war-fighting skills or to educate the JNROTC students who come to us, I have an incredibly motivated group of professionals working for me,” Beck said.



    Date Taken: 07.23.2019
    Date Posted: 07.23.2019 10:38
    Story ID: 332581
    Location: GREAT LAKES, IL, US 

    Web Views: 401
    Downloads: 1