MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. -- Marines with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 practiced landing on a Navy amphibious assault ship on a simulated flight deck near the back entrance of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jan. 11.
Even though the flight deck is on the ground, the deck has the same markers and dimensions as an LHD, said Capt. Matthew F. Kloby, VMM-162 pilot training officer.
“We run the same patterns that we run on the ship so we can get a feel for what it is like to actually land on a ship,” said Kloby.
An integral part of being an expeditionary force in readiness is the ability for Marines to operate on ship, said Kloby.
“Basically it is one of the main reasons for a Marine Corps,” he added.
The Marines will have the opportunity to land on an actual Navy ship later in the month when one is scheduled to sail near Marine Corps Air Station New River.
Landing on an LHD has not been a mission-essential skill practiced by VMM-162 because they have been deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Marine are ready for all missions so they maintain a high level of readiness in all aspects, said Kloby.
The pilots were not the only Marines practicing their skills landing on the mock ship deck. The crew chiefs have an important role in making a safe landing.
“We make sure they are clear and safe to land,” said Sgt. James Kerekanich, VMM-263 crew chief. “We keep the aircraft in the right spot, make sure it is level, make sure the aircraft is not descending too fast, and ensure that another aircraft is not trying to land in the same location we are. Basically, we do everything a crew chief does on the ground but on a ship.”
To qualify The Marines must successfully land the MV-22B Osprey on a deck five times, said Kerekanich.
He added that there are different codes that go on their record for performing the landing on an actual ship and on a simulated deck, which will help them with their training and readiness.
The Marines performed their jobs successfully and are ready to execute on a ship at the end of the month, said Kloby.