Making Descent: Marines Hone Fast-Roping Skills

Making Descent: Marines Hone Fast-Roping Skills

A Marine student with the Expeditionary Operations Training Group conducts a fast-rope descent out of an UH-1Y Venom helicopter as part of the Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques Master Course at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Oct. 21, 2015. The Marines conducted their descent at approximately 50 feet from the helicopter, which was operated by pilots with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167. Photo by Cpl Paul Martinez.

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N. C. (October 26, 2015) – When a Marine needs to get to the fight, quickly, fast-roping out of a helicopter may be the best option. For Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 167, ensuring Marines acquire this skill is a priority.

Marines with HMLA-167 supported the Expeditionary Operations Training Group in their Helicopter Rope Suspension Techniques Master Course at Landing Zone Bluebird, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Oct. 21, 2015.

The students in the course are within the "air phase" of the curriculum. Earlier in the course they practiced their rope techniques from towers in preparation for applying from an aircraft. The squadron's crewmembers provided one UH-1Y Venom helicopter for the approximately 24 students to fast-rope out of.

This type of training provides Marines with the ability to conduct helicopter insertions and extractions where helicopter landings are impractical.

"We are getting evaluated on rigging the aircraft with the rope and properly deploying down it to insert on our objective," said Capt Tebias Mason, a reconnaissance platoon commander and student in the course. 

Once the Venom touched ground at the landing zone, Marines quickly got on board and set up their line. Master instructors in the helicopter and on the ground supervised and evaluated them as they descended one by one from a height of approximately 50 feet.

In addition to fast-rope, employing rappelling techniques has also been a focus of the course.

"Chances are a helicopter will not be able to land on a vessel if that is the target, so the only way to get Marines on the deck will be from fast-roping or rappelling," said Mason. "Fast-rope is easier and faster as long as the pilots can support it. It also exposes the aircraft in the open for a shorter period of time."

The training evolution allowed the crew to become proficient in their realm of responsibility.

"I'm learning how to work in a different environment, and in the future it might be faster paced, but I will have a better understanding of how to do it," said LCpl Joseph Valesey, a crew chief with HMLA-167. "It's good to have exposure of the HRST masters and to see how the training evolution goes."

The students are slated to apply their techniques to two additional Marine Corps aircraft: the CH-53E Super Stallion and MV-22B Osprey. Upon completion of the course, they will be officially HRST certified. is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.