ARABIAN GULF, Kuwait - Wisconsin, Michigan and Texas Army National Guard Soldiers with the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade conducted deck-landing qualifications with two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters aboard the U.S. Naval Ship Alan Shepard, Aug. 9, in the Arabian Gulf.
Soldiers from Bravo Company, 1st Brigade, 147th Air Assault Helicopter Battalion, Michigan National Guard; Headquarters Co., 1st Brigade, 147th Air Assault Helicopter Battalion, Wisconsin National Guard and the 2 Brigade, 149th General Support Aviation Battalion, Texas National Guard successfully completed an integral part of the Black Hawk crew's training regimen in the Middle East.
To maintain proficiency, the crews must complete a total of 10 landings, five day and five night-vision landings on a ship deck every month. The qualifications are necessary to ensure perishable skills is not lost and aviation crewmembers are able to support maritime missions.
The danger involved includes air turbulence from the Black Hawk pushed downward onto a rolling ocean. Also, the pilots must negotiate the deck landing onto a ship moving at approximately seven knots with a surface area barely larger than the aircraft.
Before the mission took off, the crew reviewed the safety brief, emphasizing water-borne emergency operations, and conducted final pre-flight checks. Capt. Lucas Sivertson, 2-149th operations assistant, says a large part of their success is the crew's thorough preparation and attention to safety protocol.
"We review emergency water operations because we want to prepare for the worst case scenario," said Sivertson.
Some Soldiers were able to take a tour of the ship and speak with USNS Alan Shepard's captain, Capt. Scott Christofferson, while waiting for DLQ to begin.
"We're happy to help the Army train when at all possible," said Christofferson. "It helps our landing crew as well and it's a great day on the water to do it."