U.S., Thai navy personnel parachute off coast of Thailand for Cobra Gold
About 50 explosive ordnance disposal personnel parachuted out of a Marine Corps C-130 on Wednesday into turquoise waters off the coast of Thailand during the combined training Cobra Gold exercise.
U.S. Navy and Royal Thai Navy EOD teams practiced land and water jumps throughout Cobra Gold, sharpening the skills necessary for them to drop in and disarm explosives anywhere.
EOD teams jump from planes and helicopters, and dive from boats to reach their mark. “To get anywhere, anytime,” said Lt. j.g. Robert Pizzini of EOD Mobile Unit 5, based on Guam and at Sasebo Naval Base, Japan.
About 25 of the unit’s 200 members are in Thailand for Cobra Gold.
The EOD teams practiced land insertions Tuesday at three altitudes, with a static line — a parachute that opens automatically — and free fall, which requires releasing a chute manually but gives the jumper more navigational control, Pizzini said.
The sea insertion Wednesday used static lines at 1,000 to 1,500 feet, Pizzini added.
The team first tossed a combat rubber-raiding craft, an F407 Zodiac, from the C-130. About 50 jumpers followed during several passes, most wearing flippers. They drop out of the chute just before hitting the water to avoid being dragged by wind, Pizzini said.
The exercise had three training goals:
• Combined Thai-U.S. operations.
• Insertion mobility.
• Tactical communications between the jumpers, pilots, ground crew and command.
The exercise went off without a hitch.
“It was exhilarating,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class David McGarry, a storekeeper with the EOD unit from Sasebo. “The parachute opened. That’s all that matters.”