U.S. Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) conduct a fast rope exercise from a MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter, attached to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, onto the flight deck of amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), according to a recent service news release.
“Two hands reach from the black engulfing the inside of the aircraft. They pull the top of the rope into the darkness, concealing the beginning of it for a few seconds before a Marine comes blasting out of the black and down the rope to the ground below. He falls onto the rope to try and steady it for the next Marines, who follow him down,” something like this the Marines describes fast-rope exercise.
Fast-roping, also known as Fast Rope Insertion Extraction System (FRIES), is a technique for descending a thick rope. It is useful for deploying troops from a helicopter in places where the helicopter itself cannot touch down.
This training is particularly useful for Marines, who can use the technique to board ships at sea as well as to reach destinations on land. It is quicker than abseiling, although more dangerous, particularly if the person is carrying a heavy load, because the rope is not attached to them with a descender.
Fast rope training also allows pilots and aircrew to practice a precision flight and hover repeatedly, which correlates to other abilities such as external lifts with cargo or equipment.
As to the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), they are deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to support regional stability, reassure partners and allies, and maintain a presence to respond to any crisis ranging from humanitarian assistance to contingency operations.