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Around The Fleet

Riverine Force Protection:

Protecting the Navy's Silent Service

White waves froth as a Navy submarine cuts through the water making its way toward the open ocean. Three small boats bob in the swells, over a dozen sets of eyes are on the surrounding area, weapons at the ready to protect this multi-billion dollar Navy asset and her crew.

The Sailors of Coastal Riverine Squadron Eight (CRS 8) detachment in Groton, Connecticut perform a vital mission protecting high value naval units. Their mission at Naval Submarine Base New London is simple: Provide force protection and escort the Navy's silent service to and from the sea.

While CRS 8 has more than 700 Sailors assigned around the globe, the detachment in Groton is a small fraction of that.

"It really benefits the unit when you're a smaller group because you're more like family," said Lt. Cmdr. Hector B. Reyes, officer in charge of CRS 8.

The professionalism here in this small group is top of the line and the maturity of the team is unmatched, regardless of rank." - Lt. Cmdr. Hector Reyes

These Sailors come from all different training backgrounds and commands, from destroyers and frigates to amphibs and carriers, coming here can be kind of a culture shock.
A three photo collage depicting a Sailor standing at the ready, a Sea Ark boat patrolling, and a Sailor at the helm.

"You come here and you realize that everybody does a little bit of everybody else's job," said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Bruce, leading petty officer of CRS 8. "You have to make this unit work. I was able to learn different aspects of different rates and I really enjoy that. You're going to log a lot of hours, but you're going to learn a lot."

The All Hands Magazine team had the opportunity to experience a day-in-the-life of the CRS 8 Sailors. Joining them on their mission with the Navy's newest submarine, Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Illinois (SSN 786), as she prepared to get underway.

The mission for the Sailors of CRS 8 was to provide a security perimeter as the submarine transited down the Thames River toward the Atlantic Ocean.
The CRS 8 Sailors started their day before sunrise with the day's mission brief. Coffees and energy drinks in hand, idle chit chat whispers in the air like a warm wind. But as the door opened and a barrel-chested man with salt and pepper hair, and a face weathered not only by the sea but by years of experience enters the room and everything immediately goes silent. All eyes are on Senior Chief Kenneth MacDonald as his gruff New England accent cuts the air. The timeline is set and everyone understands their responsibilities - it's go time.

Sailors split off, some headed for the armory and some headed to the pier to ready their 34-foot riverine boats.

"We have a serious mission here, it's protecting these submarines," said Bruce, a native of Saugus, Massachusetts, his thick New England accent definitely present. "You really have to depend on the people to your left and right."

Twin diesel engines roared to life and the boats cast off from the pier and made their way down the river to PCU Illinois. The engines rev and the boats speed to their destination.

As the Riverine crews waited for the two tugs to assist PCU Illinois in getting underway, heads are on a swivel, scanning up and down the river occasionally waving civilian water craft away from the submarine. The tugs begin to pull the sub away from the pier and the Riverine boats move forward into position.

Crew members from the submarine cast off the tugs lines and the tugs peel away in smooth arc from the submarine and head back down river. The Riverine boat crews and submarine continued toward the mouth of the Atlantic. The swells grew bigger and the Riverine boats began to sway a little harder. As the submarine enters the Atlantic, the crew disappeared into the mast and soon the submarine dipped below the surface without a trace signifying a job well done.
A three photo collage depicting a Sailor standing at the ready, Sailors in Sea Ark, and a Sailor standing at the ready.

"The Groton HVU Detachment is a great example of Navy 'can do spirit' at work on a complex and critical task. The team of highly trained and motivated Active Duty and Reserve sailors are ready to execute every day including while facing harsh weather conditions. Their grit and professionalism has enabled their customers to execute countless operations," said Capt. Daniel Daglio, commanding officer, CRS 8.

The Riverine boats headed back to the pier. Once moored, guns were dismounted and carried back up to waiting trucks. Body armor was shed and Senior Chief MacDonald debriefs the crews.

Weapons were cleaned and the boats were washed to do it all over again the next day and the Sailors of CRS 8 are more than ready for the next challenge.
Infographic for Coastal Riverine Squadron's weapon and boat facts. Facts available at end of story.

Riverine Force Protection
M240B measures 47.5 inches, weighs 27.1 pounds, fires 7.62 rounds at 100 rounds per minute. Effective range of 875 yards and is belt fed.

varies in length, weighs 5.5 pounds, and fires a 12 gauge. It is pump action and has an effective range of 43 yards. Can hold up to 9 rounds.

M9A1 has a 15 round magazine capacity. Weighs 2.5 pounds and uses 9 millimeter rounds. It is single action, has an effective range of 54 yards, and is 8.5 inches long.

The Sea Ark is 34 feet long and 12 feet wide. It has a double jet drive and can go up to 30 knots.