“helocasting” procedures, in which the boat and the
eight Marines are carried by helicopter to a reasonable
distance from the beach. The CRRC is ejected from the
helo and the Marines jump into the water to retrieve it
and climb on board for the drive to shore.
Since the retirement of the Vietnam-vintage CH- 46
Sea Knight helicopters, helocasting has become more
difficult, the two Marines said, because the CH-53E
Super Stallion helicopter and the tiltrotor MV- 22 Osprey
produce a much more powerful downwash. It is particularly difficult with the Ospreys, they said.
But Dobson said in a follow-up written statement:
“There is currently no capability gap in our ability to
employ the CRRC from organic MAGTF [Marine Air-
Ground Task Force] rotary-wing platforms. However,
we are continually developing our procedures to
improve interoperability with the MV- 22.”
Although the CRRCs primarily are used operational-
ly for reconnaissance and special operations insertion,
they also are used at times to conduct theater cooper-
ative training with allies or partner forces, particularly
in the Pacific.
The 31st MEU conducted that kind of training
recently in the Philippines and New Zealand, Col.
Ramen “Noodles” Dasmalchi, the MEU’s commanding
“One of the things that’s unique about the 31st
MEU, we’re the only MEU that maintains a small boat
company,” Dasmalchi said in an April 7 briefing at the
Potomac Institute in Washington.
“A lot of our partners and allies in the region want to
grow their own amphibious capability. They don’t have
the money to buy MV-22s or amphib ships. But they
certainly can buy Zodiacs and many of them have,” he
said, citing the Japan Self Defense Force, which trained
with his Marines during the 2015 Talisman Sabre exercise that wrapped up in July.
The 31st MEU’s small boat company has 22 to 24
CRRCs, and the headquarters element has another six
to eight, said Lt. Col. Bland Allen, the MEU’s operations officer.
Colbert said he had trained with the South Korean
Marines using Zodiacs during a multinational exercise in
The Marine Corps had a riverine unit that operated
a much larger RHIB-type craft for patrolling and interdiction missions. It used them during the early years of
Operation Iraqi Freedom to protect the critical Haditha
Dam. But stressed by the other heavy commitments in
Iraq and Afghanistan, the Marines turned that mission
over to the Navy in 2006.
That capability now resides with the Coastal Riverine
Force in the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command.
Colbert said the Marines have no plans to regain
riverine capabilities as that would duplicate assets the
Navy and Coast Guard have.
Marines in deployed MEUs may conduct visit,
board, search and seizures, but rely on the Navy’s
RHIBs, he said.
“The Navy will drive, we’ll ride,” Dobson added. n
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 24 SEAPOWER / JUNE 2016
Marines with the Maritime Raid Force, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, prepare to jump from a UH-1Y Huey during helo-cast training at Kin Blue, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 2. Once the Marines jumped into the water, they swam to the waiting
Combat Rubber Raiding Craft, which brought them to shore.