JUAN CARLOS I, At sea — Maj. Bret Knickerbocker has made hundreds of landings in the MV-22B Osprey, but last week, something was different. It was his first opportunity to land on a Spanish amphibious assault ship, just off the coast of Spain, Sept. 9, 2015.
"The goal of practicing landing the MV-22B Osprey on Juan Carlos I is to maintain our proficiency and familiarize the process while working with the Spanish Navy," said Knickerbocker, an MV-22B Osprey pilot with Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa. "We have to make sure we are familiar with standard patterns, signals and to make sure we learn and understand each other's procedures."
The deck landing qualifications, or DLQs, are a part of the Allied Maritime Basing Initiative, which seeks to provide the U.S. and allies with a year-round maritime-based crisis response force in the Mediterranean Sea or the Gulf of Guinea by leveraging the significant amphibious capabilities already residing in Europe.
With more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface covered by water, forces at sea are able to be closer to most crises than land-based forces.
During DLQs with the Spanish Navy, U.S. Marines have subject matter experts working alongside the Spanish in the tower aboard Juan Carlos I. These SMEs coordinate air movements to and from the ship with the Spanish.
"It was fantastic being able to work with the Spanish. They are highly professional, very well trained and overall a great group of people to work with," said Capt. Stephen Cordon, an MV-22B Osprey pilot with SPMAGTF-CR-AF. "It builds a lot of confidence knowing that these are the allies we are working with on a daily basis out here in Spain."
This training proved the ability of a tiltrotor aircraft, like the Osprey, to land on a deck of the Spanish aircraft carrier, said Cordon.