Coxswain course promotes amphibious capabilities
WHITE BEACH NAVAL FACILITY, OKINAWA, Japan -- Marines participated in small boat maneuvering drills and additional nautical skill training during a coxswains course July 22 at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan.
The four week course extends from July 8 through Aug. 1 and will certify the Marines to operate small boat crafts with an additional military occupation specialty of 0316, or Combat Rubber Raiding Craft coxswain.
The service members attending the course are assigned to 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, and 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, currently assigned to 4th Marines, 3rd Marine Division, under the unit deployment program.
“This course is great because it brings amphibious capabilities to infantry battalions and puts that option on the table for the commander in charge,” said Sgt. Jon K. Walters, an instructor with Special Operations Training Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, III MEF. “After they graduate and are certified to operate the CRRC, they go back to their units and can normally expect to use these new skill sets soon.”
Throughout the course, the students are pushed mentally and physically to learn tactics and become proficient small boat operators, according to Walters, a Matoaca, Virginia, native.
“In this course we teach the students how to drive the (CRRC) and broach them (flip them over when capsized), how to drive while in a patrol formation, clandestine landing and withdrawal, and driving the boat up to a ship to perform visit, board, search and seizure,” said Walters. “We also teach students the basics of seamanship. They study nautical charts, so they know how to properly navigate, and learn several basic knots they should know how to tie and use.”
The course is challenging because of the constant pressure to pass daily drills and exams, according to Cpl. Erick T. Melton, a rifleman with 1st Bn., 3rd Marines.
“Every day begins with boat (physical training) where we run with the boat and perform group drills that require every man on the team to complete,” said Melton, a Livonia, Michigan, native. “If someone isn’t putting out (enough effort) it puts pressure on everyone else and they have to pick up the slack. It really emphasizes unit cohesion and a commitment to keep going even when it hurts.”
Following the morning boat PT, the students will conduct a variety of additional drills such as knot tying or reviewing the previous night’s homework as they prepare for the next exam.
“We are always being tested here,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Thomas Anderson, a Plano, Texas, native and rifleman with 1st Bn., 3rd Marines. “After we are taught something we have homework and drills over the material, practical application if needed and then there is always a final exam.”
For the Marines who participate in the course, it is an experience they will not likely forget, according to Walters.
“Most of the Marines who we see come through here are scared of the water because it’s a new environment, and they don’t really have a lot of experience operating in it,” said Walters. “When they graduate and leave, they have more confidence and trust in themselves. That’s an important difference for them and the unit they go back to.”