ARBROATH-based Royal Marines have literally been flying through the air on their latest training exercise.
Members of Yankee Company at 45 Commando have been aboard HMS Illustrious in the Mediterranean during Cougar 12, a three-month training exercise.
And during their training, they have had the opportunity to re-acquaint themselves with the skill of fast roping from a Commando Helicopter Force aircraft.
The Marines have to practice roping to stay in date; take part in three descents to get qualified and be current.
Every descent is gradually increased in height and the amount of kit each man has to carry, until they are descending with weapons and full kit, just as they would for real should the skill be called upon.
Sergeant Karl Lockhart, Troop Sgt of 4 Troop Yankee Company 45 explained: “This is a great opportunity to practice fast roping with the Sea King.
“We know for real it’s an excellent way to insert a lot of people onto the target rapidly. Everyone enjoyed it, as we say in the Marines; train hard fight easy!”
The helicopters used are from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons and more than 3,000 sailors and marines are involved in the exercise.
Since leaving UK waters every opportunity has been taken to further hone the fighting capability of the ship, its squadrons and the embarked Royal Marines.
Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) aircraft are providing vital troop lift capabilities throughout the exercise in addition to an under-slung load facility.
Lieutenant Mark Halford, one of the pilots currently embarked with the Commando Helicopter Force added: “For the aircrew it provided an ideal opportunity to practice one of its ‘secondary roles’.
“Fast roping is one of those exercises that all the marines who get involved will generally enjoy. Given that it has real training value it is a very under practised skill, especially to a ship.”