Photo Information

Gunnery Sgt. Michael Eason, an administration chief with Officer Candidate School, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., uses his assault pack as a floatation device during a demonstration for the new Marine Combat Water Survival training Nov. 19, 2010. The new MCWS has a renewed focus on familiarizing Marines with gear in the water at even the most basic level.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Christofer P. Baines

New water survival qualification streamlines training, enhances individual Marine

22 Nov 2010 | Lance Cpl. Christofer P. Baines

Effective now, the Marine Corps has implemented a new qualification system for combat water survival. The new system enhances safety, increases effectiveness and simplifies qualification requirements.

“The new Marine Corps Water Survival training Program provides a more streamlined and expeditionary-force-relevant program, while simultaneously reducing training requirements on the operating forces,” said Capt. Andrew Snyder, program manager, Marine Combat Water Survival Program, Training and Education Command.

This new program breaks down the qualification levels to three instead of six - basic, intermediate and advanced - much like the rating system for the marksmanship program, he added. It allows commanders and unit leaders to know how comfortable their Marines are in water with the name associated.

In addition to the new qualification ratings and mission enhancement, new elements have been adopted to give Marines practical skills for the combat zone. One such element, known as the gear drop, evaluates the Marines’ ability to shed all of their gear while submerged.

“One of the biggest changes is the gear shed,” said Gunnery Sgt. Roy Partin, Marine Combat Water Survival instructor trainer, Marine Corps Combat Service Support School, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. “The battlefield is changing so we have to adapt our training to coincide with that. They’ve got a lot of gear on. If a vehicle turns over in the water, egress situations are going to come.”

Another goal of the new MCWS program is to enhance the abilities of Marines that may not be as strong in the water as others, allowing those who usually complete the minimum score, CWS-4, to learn and be proficient with gear in the water, which isn’t required with the old program.

“Instead of Marines coming in and just [achieving CWS-4] it allows them to do the gear side of things,” said Cpl. Katherine Smith, an administrative clerk with 4th Marine Corps Recruiting District and Combat Water Survival instructor. “In the case you’re in a combat zone, you know exactly how to use it and help somebody in water survival situation.”

Unit instructors who are unable to receive the training are cleared to continue with the previous system until their training has been updated. The window currently in place for those instructors to get the required training is March 1, 2011.

For more information, read Marine Corps Order 1500.52D at:

Headquarters Marine Corps