Daring drop for Marines in 'fast-roping' op
A fearless feat of fast-roping was performed by Royal Marines with the help of Westcountry helicopter crews.
The operation involved Sea Kings from 845 and 846 Naval Air Squadrons based at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset.
It took place on board HMS Illustrious while she was steaming towards the Mediterranean to take part in Cougar 12, a three-month training deployment.
Lieutenant Mark Halford, of 845 NAS, said it was a tricky task but an "ideal opportunity" to practise a secondary skill.
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"Roping is a skill that aircrew have to practise in order to be current and to add to their level of mission flexibility and capability.
"Fast-roping is one of those exercises that all the Marines who get involved will generally enjoy.
"Given that it has real training value, especially to a ship, it is a very under-practised skill."
To qualify in fast-roping Royal Marines have to undertake three descents, each one further and with more gear than the previous drop.
Sergeant Karl Lockhart, of Yankee Company, 45 Commando, said it had been worthwhile.
"This is a great opportunity to practise fast-roping with the Sea King," he said.
"We know for real it's an excellent way to insert a lot of people onto the target rapidly."