Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Reconnaissance Marines mitigate reef risks
US Marine Corps News
By Lance Cpl. Erik S. Brooks Jr., Marine Corps Bases Japan
CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa -- Coral reefs, formed over thousands of years, create some of Okinawa’s most exciting and beautiful areas to explore. However, coral is easily destroyed by unintentional contact, and it can also pose serious danger to marine vehicles of all sorts.
Marines with Combat Assault Battalion maneuvered Okinawa’s waterways, guided by 3rd Reconnaissance Marines, to help mitigate this potential hazard during future training with amphibious assault vehicles.
To accomplish this, the Marines used combat rubber raiding craft to survey the waters off the coast of Camp Schwab March 30.
“The mission today was for us to conduct water route (reconnaissance) for our amphibious assault vehicles,” said Capt. Jonathan D. Morris, an AAV officer and company commander for Company F, CAB, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We needed to look to see where we could maneuver our AAVs through the water.”
Company F, originally based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., arrived on Okinawa March 17 for a six-month tour as part of the Marine Corps’ unit deployment program. While on Okinawa, the unit will provide support to III MEF’s amphibious operational capability.
“When a UDP comes in from CAB, it is our job to show them the proper routes to take when out in the ocean,” said Cpl. Charles T. Sexton, a small-craft boat mechanic with 3rd Reconnaissance Bn.
Recon Bn.’s role in the mission was to supply and pilot the boats, and show CAB Marines where to enter the water, according to Sexton.
“When CAB conducts training in the central training area with AAVs, we depart from Schwab to a place called Kushi Crossing,” said Morris. “Kushi is where we enter the central training area with the AAVs.”
After a safety brief about the watercraft and local sea conditions, the Marines made their way to Kushi Crossing.
“As we headed out into the ocean, we pointed out to CAB where the reefs were and other areas to avoid,” said Sexton.
When the Marines arrived at Kushi Crossing, they cruised around the area looking for any shallow spots in the water.
“Looking for every possible obstacle is very important to us,” said Morris. “We look for paths in the water so that our AAVs will not damage the reef or be damaged.”
As each reef was found, the Marines plotted the points on the defense advanced GPS receiver to make sure they avoided them during future training missions, said Morris.
“We do not want to damage the coral reefs or our AAVs in the water,” said Morris. “So, this was a very valuable opportunity to look where the reefs are located, so we can conduct safe training in the future.”
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