Helicopter-to-ship boarding training was given to special operations forces (SOF) from seven countries aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) during exercise Jackal Stone (JS10) 2010, Sep. 19.
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, Det One, the “Ghost Riders”, is embarked aboard Mount Whitney supporting the JS10 mission by conducting flight operations at sea with members of the Lithuanian Air Force and other SOF units.
“Fast roping from a helicopter onto a moving ship is an essential skill for these specialized forces,” said Lt. Cmdr. Joe Strassberger, HSC-28, Det One, officer in charge. “I am pleased with the performance of our aircrews and glad for the opportunity to support this exercise.”
Members of HSC-28 were able to integrate with MI-8 helicopters from the Lithuanian Air Force in combat fast-rope training exercises onto the flight deck of the Mount Whitney.
“We were able to coordinate with the Lithuanian pilots for several JS10 key evolutions,” said Strassberger. “We observed and assisted them in getting an opportunity to enhance their ability to land on a moving ship and perform deck landing qualifications.”
Other operations performed by the Ghost Riders in support of JS10 include helicopter born sniper operations and “hot” landing zone troop insertions.
“The operators were easy going and terrific to work with,” said Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 3rd Class Christopher Carpenter. “We briefed with the Lithuanian SOF operators back on land and performed a few practices runs of the various training exercises before getting started. It’s amazing how much they were able to improve their proficiency.”
JS10 is a multinational military special operations exercise organized by Special Operations Command Europe, designed to improve international military partnerships through a joint training with special force subunits from Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Ukraine, and the United States.
Mount Whitney, the flagship for the U.S. 6th Fleet, is homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.
By Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Terry Vick, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs