ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Midshipmen experienced the ride of a lifetime aboard Navy and Marine Corps riverine craft during a special exhibition held at the U.S. Naval Academy April 6-7.
Marines from U.S. Marine Corps Training Detachment in Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen of Naval Special Warfare's Special Boat Team 22 from Stennis, Miss., were on hand to demonstrate their capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps' future officers.
"A riverine squadron is going to be an option for me here soon," said Midshipman 1st Class Tom Sauer, who will join the surface warfare community upon graduation in May. "I am here to check it out, look at my options, and look at what I might be doing here in a couple years."
The Sailors and Marines offered tours and familiarization rides to Midshipmen, Academy faculty and staff, and guests.
The demonstration consisted of Marine 40-foot Small Unit Riverine Craft and Riverine Assault Craft, and Naval Special Warfare 33-foot Special Operations Craft (Riverine) (SOC-R) and 25-foot Patrol Boats (Light). These boats are designed to conduct a variety of missions within inland waterways.
Naval Special Warfare has been active in the Riverine environment for more than 20 years. The SOC-R has the ability to operate in waterways that are located well inland, allowing Special Operations Forces to conduct extended operations in areas out of reach from conventional Navy ships. Now, the Navy is spending $200 million on the new Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC), reinventing its conventional riverine capability, which has been dormant since the Vietnam War.
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Mullen has placed high priority on re-forming the "Brown Water Navy." "We cannot sit out in the deep blue waiting for the enemy to come to us," Mullen said in a speech at the Naval War College in August 2005. "I believe our Navy is missing a great opportunity to influence events by not having a riverine force. We're going to have one."
The Navy's current plan is to take over riverine operations from the Marines in the spring of 2007, so the veteran crew members felt it was fitting that the future officers got a sneak preview.
"It's good for them to get to look at it and see what is going to be in the Navy, because they don't get to see it every day like we do," said Marine Cpl. Nicholas Smotherman with the Marine Training Detachment.
The riverine craft and their crews were in Annapolis for the U.S. Naval Institute 2006 Applied Naval History Conference, "Riverine Warfare: Back to the Future?"
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