In the film “Apocoplypes Now” actor Martin Sheen’s character rides up a South Vietnamese River into Cambodia with members of a “Brown River” Navy group. Fast forward to September 2006; it’s the return of the Brown River Navy, this time running up and down the Cape Fear River for realistic training before deploying to Iraq in March.
Riverine Squadron One, which makes its home at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base at Camp Lejeune, made good use of the facilities at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Wilmington District’s Lock and Dam Two when it conducted the first of two phases of small unit riverine craft training by the Special Missions Training Center, also based at Camp Lejeune. The Navy is taking control of the squadron from the Marine Corps, and it’s the Navy’s first active duty “brown water” mission since the Vietnam War. Sailors will assume a mission Marines held on the Euphrates River located north and south of Baghdad. According to Marine Corps Major Roberto Martinez, the officer in charge of the Special Missions Training Center, the facilities at Lock and Dam 2 provide a realistic setting that sailors need before heading over to Iraq.
“There are pump houses and other buildings like the Corps’ buildings that are located along rivers in Iraq,” Martinez said. “And the Cape Fear River is very similar to rivers in Iraq which makes this training about as realistic as it can get.”
Marines and Sailors will use the Wilmington District’s facilities at Lock and Dam 2 this fall for additional training.