Tag Archives: Force Recon

Frogman Kit: DPDs & Jetboots Doing Their Thing Quietly

There have been lots of interesting combat swimmer news bits in the past week.

For starters, check out this photo dump from Saventa, Aruba (June 19, 2022) showing Marines with 2d Reconnaissance Battalion conducting a dive during Exercise Caribbean Coastal Warrior in conjunction with Dutch Korps Mariners marines. “This bilateral training exercise allows 2d Recon to expand its knowledge and proficiency when operating in littoral and coastal regions.”

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Ramsammy)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Ramsammy)

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ryan Ramsammy)

Of course, you see rubber duck M4s, because why waste a good weapon in saltwater immersion training. But this post isn’t about rubber rifles with droopy barrels. Check out that last image and you will see a STIDD Diving Propulsion Device or DPD. 

This thing:

STIDD also makes a cargo pod for the DPD, which is now in its third generation.

The DPD is rare, but the Marine Recon community has been using them in small numbers for a decade. Check out this image from 2014:

JAN 31, 2014. Cpl. Peter E. Kober, left, and Sgt. Scott A. Hulsizer carry their diver propulsion device into the water to begin their dive Jan. 22, during a certification course at Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. The DPD is a battery-powered vehicle capable of carrying two divers and their equipment while submerged out of sight. The course was a part of Exercise Sandfisher 2014. Kober and Hulsizer are reconnaissance men with Company B, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. Photo by Cpl. Brandon Suhr

“The (DPD) gives the combat divers an amazing benefit over the normal combat diving operational limitations they have,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Donald R. Miner, a medical deep-sea diver and instructor for the course with Headquarters Company, 3rd Recon. Bn., 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “It can defeat high currents and high tides using its battery. It also gives the divers more relaxation time as they’re not swimming for extended periods. They can go without expending all their energy trying to get to shore.”

Jet Boots!

Meanwhile, 10th Group’s base paper recently profiled a three-week ODA combat dive requalification at Key West’s very tough SFUWO school. To be validated, a dive team must perform six closed-circuit dives using a rebreather, one open-circuit search dive, and an Over the Horizon inflatable boat move of at least 15 nautical miles.

The group used Jet Boots for part of the requal. Simple twin scooter fans that strap to your legs, they can push you at up to 4 knots underwater.

KEY WEST, Fla. — Special Forces operators with 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), carry a simulated stinger missile on shore near Key West, Florida, during a three-week dive requalification on May 6, 2022. Combat divers performed a closed-circuit dive to rehearse undersea wartime operations. The things strapped to their legs are Jet Boots (Photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Bryant)

Said the team leader:

“We’re incorporating (the Jetboots Diver Propulsion System) on our dives to extend our range. With dive operations, we’re limited to about 2 kilometers of diving. With the Jetboots capability SFUWO provides, we can do (infiltrations) of up to 7 or 8 kilometers.”

B-roll of the 10th Group guys sunning in the Keys:

The Marines have also used Jet Boots, which they simply term a “diver propulsion vehicle” or DPV.

Finally, just to remind folks they have the best toys, the SEALs (or at least SDV/DDS support guys) dropped this image just in time for July 4th reposts, albeit with open-circuit gear.

Military members from Naval Special Warfare Group Eight display the national ensign as they perform dive operations while underway on a Virginia Class fast-attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 778). Naval Special Warfare organizes, mans, trains, equips, deploys, sustains, and provides command and control of NAVSPECWAR forces to conduct full-spectrum undersea special operations and activities worldwide in support of Geographic Combatant Commands and national interests. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Christopher Perez).

Happy National Napping Day

Just in case you didn’t know, the Monday after Daylight Savings Time spring’s back is National Napping Day. In true LSOZI fashion, this is my take.

Marine Sgt. Robert Gwinn, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, takes a nap waiting for a helicopter to transport him back to base after a five-day recon patrol in the hills near Da Nang, Vietnam, 1969.

Official USMC photo by Gunnery Sergeant Bob Jordan via Marine Corps History Division

Official USMC photo by Gunnery Sergeant Bob Jordan via Marine Corps History Division

Of note, the likely exhausted Gwinn carries an aircrew/pilot’s survival knife and not a traditional K-Bar fighting knife. You can tell by the bolt-shaped pommel and sharpening stone pouch on the sheath.

As Gwinn’s patrol, according to the MCHD, “worked closely with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing pilots and aircrews,” he likely got the knife in trade. Below he is shown filling his canteen in another shot from the Corps Archives. That CAR-15 XM177, tho…

Robert Gwinn Fills His Canteens, 1969 1st Recon Danag Vietnam Marines CAR15 XM177

The special Navy Seal gun you never hear about

For the past half-decade the U.S. Naval Special Warfare community has quietly used a device unique to its service– the Battelle Plummet Gun– and its half-Batman, half-Star Wars, and all-cool.

The problem

While after the recent activities in the Global War on Terror in which we see Navy Seals roping out of choppers and moving around on land a lot, they are actually first and foremost combat swimmers. These fighting frogmen, who evolved from the old Underwater Demolition Teams of World War II and Korea, are tasked with taking over suspect ships at sea, sinking the bad guy’s ships in port, and seizing offshore islands and structures such as oil platforms.

Commonly termed Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations, its these actions from small boats against platforms and vessels at sea that sometimes put these special operators behind the proverbial 8-ball as the bad guys often don’t leave a ladder down to allow the frogmen easy access.

U.S. Navy SEALs board a ship from a Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat as they conduct a joint Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) exercise alongside U.S. Marines assigned to Force Reconnaissance Platoon, Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), during composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Atlantic Ocean, July 20, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/26th MEU Combat Camera/Released)

U.S. Navy SEALs board a ship from a Rigid-Hull Inflatable Boat as they conduct a joint Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) exercise alongside U.S. Marines assigned to Force Reconnaissance Platoon, Maritime Raid Force, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), during composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) in the Atlantic Ocean, July 20, 2015. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andre Dakis/26th MEU Combat Camera/Released)

This means special devices such as a backpack-sized magnetic ship-climbing device that would “drive” up the side of a ship’s steel hull to the top, where an operator would anchor it and drop a rope ladder to the other team members below.

NSW ship climbing device at the U.S. Navy Seal/UDT Museum, Image by Chris Eger

NSW ship climbing device at the U.S. Navy Seal/UDT Museum, Image by Chris Eger

However, these are big and bulky– not to mention noisy and complicated to employ.

What would be ideal would be a grappling hook gun like the one Luke Skywalker used to escape the Stormtroopers on the Death Star with Leia in tow, or that Batman used repeatedly. Hey, about that…

Meet the 25 pound Battelle Plummet Gun, and yes, it is as big as the M60 shown next to it for scale. Image via Chris Eger

Meet the 25 pound Battelle Plummet Gun, and yes, it is as big as the M60 shown next to it for scale. Image via Chris Eger

So suffice it to say, this is one piece of kit you aren’t going to add to your turn out bag just yet.

Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk

1100-mile Kill/Capture Drill

11 March 2012 Amphibious Reconnaissance Marines, Force Reconnaissance Marines and infantry Marines of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, all from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, conduct a long distance raid from the deck of the USS Essex to Camp Fuji. The raid covered 1,100 miles one way, and involved the mock capture of a high value target. (And no, its not Mos Eisely)

Now 1100-miles is one heck of a littoral….