Photo Information

Marines and Sailors with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, pose for a photo atop of the USS Mississippi, a Virginia Class Block 5 submarine aboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, Nov. 17, 2015. Company A toured the ship as part of a one-day Special Operations Forces capabilities training event, where they learned about lock-out submarine insertions. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Sgt. Tony Simmons)

Photo by Sgt. Tony Simmons

Recon Locks Out Under the Sea

18 Dec 2015 | Sgt. Tony Simmons I Marine Expeditionary Force

Marines and Sailors with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, toured the USS Mississippi, a Virginia Class Block 5 submarine, and received classes in underwater insertion tactics, Nov. 17, 2015, aboard Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

“Since the World War II era, the ability to push out a team of Marines was used,” said Capt. Morgan Jordan, from Dallas, and 1st Platoon Commander with Company A, 1st Recon Bn. “As we start to move away from a land-based war in Afghanistan and Iraq, we need to get back into training our submarine capabilities as reconnaissance Marines.”

The Marines and Sailors seized an opportunity to board the USS Mississippi and tour the ship to observe where they would be staged for mission execution.

“We talked to them about how to incorporate support from submarines during Marine Expeditionary Unit special operations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jeffery Paul Landry Jr., from Ventura, California, and the Naval Special Warfare officer for Submarine Squadron 1. “We want to show them that we can insert them and we have different ways of doing so.”

The first option for insertion is Lock-Out Trunk, which is specific to the Virginia Class Block 5 submarine, and allows Special Operations Forces to launch up to 60 feet below the water’s surface.

Using LOT for insertion allows a ship to deploy four Combat Rubber Raiding Crafts with five divers in a 20-30 minute cycle with a proficient crew.

“The Virginia Class subs were built from the ground up to have LOT capability for launching people,” said Landry. “Although other types of subs can do it as well, they needed to be retrofitted for the ability.”

The second option is a Lock-Out Chamber which takes approximately 45-60 minutes to execute.

The LOC is capable of up launching 12 CRRC’s and 12 swimmers per cycle by flooding the lock-out chamber and sending them through a converted missile tube.

“The signature of a successful lock-out would be extremely small,” said Jordan. “There isn’t much more of a discreet way to launch teams with a boat and motor to secure a beachhead.”

The final method is a slant deck insertion, Though it is used least often due to its tactical inferiority over the other methods, it is the simplest.

During slant deck operations, the submarine will surface half way out of the water, with the front raised higher than the rear, and SOF teams can launch their CRRC’s off the top deck.

“The insertion methods can be used for any SOF team that has SCUBA capabilities and wants to insert candescently,” said Landry. “We want them to realize that they have an option to use submarines to insert during mission, planning, and execution.”

Landry added, although this training event was more of a “show and tell,” the Marines look forward to the chance of practical application.

“We have divers, small boats, and highly skilled reconnaissance Marines,” said Jordan. “I hope coming out here opens the door for us to continue training on this platform.”