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41st RQS performs ship boarding exercises

PENSACOLA BAY, Fla. - A 41st Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter lands on the Baylander, a Navy vessel used for helicopter training, during ship boarding operations Jan. 25 and 26 at Pensacola Bay, Fla. The exercise is a mandatory training requirement for the 41st RQS, stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and improves its search and rescue capabilities. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Riensche)

PENSACOLA BAY, Fla. - A 41st Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter lands on the Baylander, a Navy vessel used for helicopter training, during ship boarding operations Jan. 25 and 26 at Pensacola Bay, Fla. The exercise is a mandatory training requirement for the 41st RQS, stationed at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., and improves its search and rescue capabilities. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Riensche)

PENSACOLA BAY, Fla. - An HH-60G Pave Hawk, from the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., is guided into the Baylander, a Navy vessel used for helicopter training, during ship board operations Jan. 25 and 26 here. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Riensche)

PENSACOLA BAY, Fla. - An HH-60G Pave Hawk, from the 41st Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Ga., is guided into the Baylander, a Navy vessel used for helicopter training, during ship board operations Jan. 25 and 26 here. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Mark Riensche)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- More than 25 Airmen from the 41st Rescue Squadron took to the open waters of Pensacola Bay, Fla. Jan 25 and 26 to perform ship board training with the Navy. 

The training included day and night landings on a Navy vessel to educate the pilots, co-pilots, gunners and engineers on procedures they may encounter on search and rescue operations. 

“Basically, the main mission at Pensacola was to get some of the newer people in the crew familiar with ship board operations,” said Maj. Robert Remey, 41st RQS standardization evaluation chief. “We landed on a single-spot deck (with the intention) to practice the maneuvers of ship board operations.” 

To prepare for the exercises, 41st RQS members stayed at Hurlburt Field, Fla., for one week and learned about the upcoming operations. 

“We had ground training academics which taught us how to operate in and around a ship,” said Capt. Amanda Hutchison, 41st RQS current operations. “We then practiced landing on a spot painted on concrete (to simulate landing on a ship). One of the most important parts of this training was learning how to ‘speak Navy’ and utilize Navy procedures.” 

The squadron then took three HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters to perform the landing operations. 

Each pilot was required to execute five successful daytime and nighttime landings on the Baylander, a Navy vessel specializing in helicopter training. 

Even with near ideal conditions, landing on the ship provided challenging circumstances especially compared with normal ground procedures, said Capt. Hutchison. 

“The exercise was challenging because the ship is constantly moving in the water,” she said. “You have to be more conscience of your landing. Without this training, I wouldn’t know what I was doing while performing ship boarding operations.” 

The ship boarding operations are part of normal training requirements for 41st RQS pilots and co-pilots, said Maj. Remey. 

“We try to perform ship boarding training often, but due to deployments, we don’t get many chances,” he said. “We have to get retrained in learning single-spot landings every six months.” 

Even though the 41st RQS doesn’t perform ship boarding operations very often in a real setting, it serves as practice for when the unit may need to operate from aboard a ship during a deployment. 

“It is a possible the 41st RQS could be tasked to operate off a ship for search and rescue operations,” said Maj. Remey. “This expands our capabilities. There are units that have performed CSAR operations off of ships in other areas in the world, so we have to be prepared.”