USNS Sacagawea Conducts Flight Operations with MV-22 Marine Osprey

USNS Sacagawea Conducts Flight Operations with MV-22 Marine Osprey

Marine Corps pilots from the Okinawa-based “Dragons” of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron VMM-265, flying MV-22B Ospreys, conducted first-of-its-kind training with USNS Sacagawea (T-AKE 2) April 6 off the coast of Subic Bay, the Philippines.

Flight operations with the tilt-rotor Osprey, designed to combine the functionality of a conventional helicopter with the long-range, high-speed cruise performance of a turboprop aircraft, will continue through April 11.

During the test flight, Marine Corps aviation personnel worked closely with Military Sealift Command civil service mariners aboard Sacagawea, familiarizing themselves with the aircraft’s unique capabilities, as well as its cargo lifting and passenger transfer capabilities.

“This is our first MV-22 landing, fueling, cargo and passenger transfer,” said Capt. Rollin Bellfi, Sacagawea’s civil service master.

“Sacagawea is leading the way with safe and smooth Osprey operations,” he said.

Ashore, Marines and civil service mariners assigned to Sacagawea’s flight deck practiced lifting a Marine Corp Humvee light vehicle in preparation for an at-sea cargo operation aboard Sacagawea.

Meanwhile, flight deck personnel practiced connecting the MV-22 to a humvee, lifting it and placing it safely on the ground at nearby Subic Bay international airport.

Sacagawea will conduct additional landing qualifications, refueling operations, passenger transfers and cargo lifts with the Osprey throughout the remainder of Exercise Balikatan 2013, an annual Republic of the Philippines-U.S. military bilateral training exercise and humanitarian assistance engagement and will take place in the from April 5-17.

Sacagawea is deployed to the Philippines in support of exercise Freedom Banner and Balikatan and delivered 170 pieces of Marine Corps cargo ashore via U.S. Navy watercraft last month in support of the exercise while anchored off the coast of Subic Bay.

Naval Today Staff, April  11, 2013; Image: US Navy