SWCC Complete Parachute Egress Course
NORFOLK, Va. -- (NNS) -- U.S. Navy Special Warfare
Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC) from Special Boat Team (SBT) 20
tested their stamina and water proficiency after the one-week
Parachute Egress (Para-Egress) course at Joint Expeditionary Base
Little Creek Feb 5.
"The evolution we did today is the water competency evaluation; it's
a compilation of everything we've taught the students throughout the
week," said Senior Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator Jeff Smith,
Para-Egress course instructor for SBT-20. "It's designed to be
challenging, to test guys in the worst possible controlled
environment that we can replicate, testing their physical and mental
aptitude to be able to handle themselves in any situation that they
may find themselves in."
The beginning of the course consists of a one-mile open ocean swim
along with a basic physical assessment. This is done to ensure the
students are physically ready before putting them in any kind of
"We give these guys real-world survival skills including
disentanglement procedures in parachutes, and buddy towing with full
gear on," said Smith. "We push them to their limits, both their
physical and mental ability to help them deal with challenges that
occur during a water drop and how to successfully get out of those
situations without anxiety or panic."
Next, they perform single disentanglement exercises. They test out
two to three times, swimming below a single parachute and feeling
their way out from underneath using a seam as a guide. They repeat
the exercise blindfolded, simulating coming up under a parachute at
night. The next day the course gets harder, simulating falling into
one parachute with another falling over them. They have to remove
the chute below them, unhitch their gear and find their way out.
Chief Special Warfare Boat Operator Benjamin Spoon, Para-Egress
safety instructor at SBT-20, has seen firsthand situations where
this type of training is essential.
"The worst case scenario is being entangled in two parachutes under
water while trying to remove your parachute harness. Our challenge
as instructors is to teach these guys to remain calm in these
situations," said Spoon.
Part of the water proficiency test is the buddy tow, where they have
to overcome the mental challenge of exhaustion along with keeping
their buddy alive.
"The goal is to have these students learn the technique for real
world scenarios. The buddy tow simulates finding another operator in
the water and towing him to safety while keeping his head above the
waterline," said Spoon.
When they leave this course, these SWCC will ultimately go to
Maritime Craft Aerial Delivery System (MCADS) training. The system
deploys an 11-meter Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RIB) rigged with
four large parachutes from the back of a C-130 or C-17 at
approximately 3,500-feet, with the SWCC parachuting immediately
afterwards. The MCADS capability enables Naval Special Warfare SWCCs
to rapidly deploy anywhere in the world in a maritime environment.
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