Strung out: BLT 3/1 Marines test their roping skills

26 Jul 2002 | Sgt. Brian J. Griffin 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

They stand huddled together, checking one another's harness, focusing on the task ahead of them. Tying the rope around their waists, ensuring everything fits and is properly working, Marines with Company I, Battalion Landing Team 3/1, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), toss away any thoughts of fear. For them, it's just another day at the office.Climbing a ladder up to where the real training begins, they prepare to cross a rope bridge 50 feet above the deck. With the black and green ropes stretched taut across the more than 60-foot gap, they step up to the edge of the balcony. Once hooked to a safety line, they swing their bodies around the guardrail and attach themselves to the rope bridge by a carabineer."The training is important because for some of these Marines, it is their first time doing this. It builds their confidence to know they can do it and can trust their equipment," said 2nd Lt. Michael Deland, commander for 1st Platoon, Co. I. "For those who have done this before, this is a refresher course to ensure they (remain proficient) at the skills required to do something like this." These skills come in handy while the Marines dangle upside down, attached to the rope by carabineers securely hooked to the front of their harnesses. Swinging against the rocking of the ship, they pull themselves hand over hand along a rope that spans the hull of the USS Denver."It's good for us to be able to do this training. The practice helps to keep us on our toes and the techniques fresh in our minds," said Lance Cpl. Michael Baccellieri, assault climber, Company I, BLT 3/1, 11th MEU (SOC). The training simulates crossing a ravine, crevice, river or other form of rough terrain using a rope suspension system. The system takes about 15-20 minutes to set up and the training is designed to build the Marines' self-assurance."This training definitely built my confidence in the gear," said Pfc. Alexander Sargent, 3rd Platoon, Co. I. "Being up 50 feet, hanging upside down and pulling yourself across a rope will help you gain confidence in yourself."After traversing the gap, they pull themselves up to another balcony where a qualified assault climber hooks them to another safety line. Once they reach this balcony, they have successfully completed the bridge crossing. Using time during the ship's transit to safely learn new skills and refresh old ones, Company I Marines continue to look for new ways to challenge themselves throughout the deployment. "They did really well. We had no problems and nobody seemed intimidated by it," Deland said. "Next time we do this training, we could make it harder because these Marines are up to the challenge."

Marine Corps News

Colonel Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

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Sergeant Major Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarrĀ enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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