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    Over the blue waters of the Black Sea: 12th CAB qualifies crews for maritime operations

    Over the blue waters of the Black Sea: 12th CAB qualifies crews for maritime operations

    Photo By Maj. Robert Fellingham | U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Elijah Joyce, a CH-47 crew chief assigned to the 12th Combat...... read more read more



    Story by Maj. Robert Fellingham 

    12th Combat Aviation Brigade

    BURGAS, Bulgaria — The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade is certifying aircrews for maritime operations over the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria in both day and night conditions.

    Aircrews from the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, part of 12th CAB, are flying training missions over the Black Sea as the final step in their certification for maritime operations, during Exercise Swift Response 21, part of DEFENDER-Europe 21, between May 4th and 16th.

    “Based on where we are located in central Germany, we have limited options for training over open ocean. With the Black Sea being this close to where we are conducting Exercise Swift Response 21, we wanted to take advantage of that to get as many of our crews trained and certified as possible,” said 1-214th Cmd. Sgt. Maj. Trenton Zaragoza.

    12th CAB aviators complete preliminary training including academics and ‘dunker tank’ training at a large pool facility in Spain before certifying over the open ocean, which provides them confidence in their capability to evacuate the aircraft in the event of an emergency water landing.

    “The helicopter is top heavy because of the rotor blades and the engine so the helicopter, within seconds of hitting the water, will flip over and you’ll be upside down,” said Zaragoza.

    Flying over the open ocean presents unique navigational challenges to crews as well, according to Warrant Officer Kenneth Goethe, a CH-47 pilot with 1-214th Aviation Battalion.

    “The biggest difference is ground references. When flying we are used to seeing terrain and landmarks like towns and roads. When we’re out on the ocean we lose all those reference points, so relying on our equipment and our instruments is key.”

    Confidence in one’s training and communication between the pilots and crew becomes even more critical in this challenging environment.

    “The crew chiefs in the back of the aircraft are arguably more important than we are; they are doing all the work in the aircraft controlling passengers, equipment and constantly communicating with the cockpit about the status of this large aircraft and the airspace around us,” said Goethe.
    12th CAB is continuing its maritime operations training as time permits between its primary mission during Swift Response 21, providing air support for the 173rd Airborne Brigade’s air assault missions. Though, Mr. Goethe may have a slight preference for training flights over the Black Sea.

    “I’m very excited about this flight; this is the first time that I’ve ever flown over water or even seen the Black Sea, and this is actually my first time doing cross-border operations.”

    DEFENDER-Europe 21 is a large-scale U.S. Army-led exercise designed to build readiness and interoperability between the U.S., NATO allies and partner militaries. This year, more than 28,000 multinational forces from 26 nations will conduct nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas in over a dozen countries from the Baltics to the strategically important Balkans and Black Sea Region. Follow the latest news and information about DEFENDER-Europe 21, visit



    Date Taken: 05.07.2021
    Date Posted: 05.07.2021 15:44
    Story ID: 395944
    Location: BURGAS, BG 

    Web Views: 245
    Downloads: 0