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This was previously posted in forums by Kari - but thought I would post it here to (it's good info. for the new people in the group - like me!) Thanks Kari and BB!

Here goes.......

After Boot Camp PIR, your son will go to Pensacola. He may be on hold there for a couple of months before classing up for NACCS (Naval Air Crew Candidacy School). My son was on hold for about 6 weeks last spring (08).  NACCS is about 5-6 weeks, depending on how long processing takes.  After graduating NACCS, he will most likely be on hold again before classing up for RSS (Rescue Swimmer School). RSS is 5 weeks long.  After RSS graduation, they usually are on hold again for a month or more.  Rescue Swimmers are AW rate. (Aviation Warfare). They serve as Air Crew for the AW's.  They will have another "job" on board, but are considered Rescue Swimmers first.  As far as what they do, they sit in the gunners chair right behind the pilot.  They are responsible for contact with the tower for the pilot, and contact with the pilot.  They are to be constantly looking out for an emergency landing spot.  They learn in their training what to look for.  The RS also pre-flights the entire helo before flying (2-3 hours).  They have the right to ground a helo, if they don't see it fit to fly.  He has had to ground a couple already for things that weren't fixed on previous lists.  After each flight, they do a checklist report of what wasn't working correctly on the flight that needs to be fixed before it flies again.  The RS needs to know how to read the mission display, they are "back up eyes and brains" for the pilots.  Interestingly, the Coast Guard goes to school a lot longer for RS, 14 months I think, but when they are done, they know NOTHING about the helo that they fly in.  He said most of them don't even know what kind of engine is in it, or what kind of oil it takes!!!  Navy trains their RS to know EVERYTHING about the helo, down to the last BOLT!!!  Pretty cool.  He said if there came a time when it is needed, they could even fly the helo if something happens to the pilot, they know that much.  He said that doesn't happen much though.  If something happened to the pilot, there isn't much time to get him out of the seat.  The Sierra can carry up to 12 people, so it is much more stripped down for SAR/Combat rescues.
What rate within the AW rate they have will depend on which "platform" (aircraft) they will serve as Air Crew on.  They usually are "chosen" for this platform, but are sometimes allowed to give a "preference".  My son is on the Sierra, which is a sea combat platform, whereas the "Romeo" is more of a "mine and sub chaser".  AW School has 9 platforms.  Each platform is directed at a different aircraft. Rescue Swimmers only have 2 choices of platforms (as they can only jump out of a helo...not a plane hee hee )  So they can go H-60R (Romeo) or H-60S (Sierra).  The Romeo is the newest version, and they just officially went into the fleet this past October.  (They have been training the pilots since Oct 2007 for them).  The Romeo is deployed aboard an assault ship, and tracks foreign subs with sonar, and can launch missiles.  Typically, with only a 4 person crew, the RS is the missile minder.  The Romeo is used primarily in ocean rescues.
The Sierra is basically a gutted Huey/Blackhawk.  It has a technically updated flight data system for the pilot, but is otherwise gutted.  It is used to rescue wounded soldiers by land, as well as sea. It is also used in SEAL missions.  It is usually ground based somewhere on foreign soil.  Since RS are highly medically trained, they are used for combat rescues too.  Once they complete AW School (which is their "A" School) they continue to FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron) training for 6-9 months depending on their "platform".  RS go to Norfolk or SanDiego, as those are the bases that the helos are stationed at primarily.  Sierra FRS is about 5-6 months, as they aren't equipped with all of the radar and computer equiptment to track mines and subs, so training is shorter more rescue oriented-.  Romeo FRS requires more technical training than the Sierra.  After FRS is completed, the RS's are required to go to SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) Training in Maine or California. Sometimes they will do SERE first and then FRS.  This training is to aid and educate them to evade the enemy, or survive capture. VERY INTENSE!! :0) SERE is 2 weeks long, with NO CONTACT with the outside world for the lst week. :) From there, they will be sent to the fleet.

By the way, RSS is considered a "C" School, so Rescue Swimmers actually attend their "C" School BEFORE their "A" School ;0) I thought that was interesting.   HUGS

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Replies to This Discussion

amj510, there is almost always hold times for everything :) If I remember correctly I think RSS is 5-6 weeks long but this is the hardest part of their training. The attrition rate in this is high but they are given several chances to pass. This is the stage where the instructors see who really wants to become a rescue swimmer. He is going to be pushed hard but if he doesn't pass something he will be rolled back and given the chance to pass it again. If he keeps his head on straight and works hard he should be fine. It will also be hard on you because you will now need to be his "cheerleader". He will be calling you to tell you how tired he is, how sore he is and how hard it is and there isn't anything you can do to help him but support him and tell him he can do it. But the end result is that he will be a rescue swimmer. Good luck! BTW, if you post on the main page you will probably get more responses. Sometimes comments on the discussion page aren't seen for a while. This is a great group of moms who have been where you are now so don't be afraid to ask questions or cry on our shoulders if you need to:)

Hi to Everyone.

Jodi-alumni Ship 4, thanks for the information.  It is very helpful. My son will start RSS on Monday (just classed up yesterday).  And I have to admit that I'm a little bit worried. As you recommended, I'm his biggest (and maybe the only one) cheerleader.  I'm trying to make him feel positive every time he calls and give him strength.

I'm planning to attend to his graduation as RS.  He said that will probably be at the end of April.  I suppose this graduation is different, but I don't have any clue about it.  Any recommendation on where to get more information about it.  

Many thanks in advance.

This is such great information.  I am a new Navy mom.  PIR on 4-1-16.  I am constantly reading so that I can be informed & not totally shocked!  Thank you so much!

Welcome to the group sll38613 . As I told amj510, you will probably get more responses if you post on the main page. I bet you are excited for April 1 to come. Are you going to the graduation? I hope so because it is something to see!!

How long is the whole RSS training?

From Boot Camp to Squadron, you are looking at close to two years to complete.  However that time can change slightly (in either direction) depending on the skill of the swimmer and the placement needs of the Navy.  Generally speaking though, plan on two years to Squadron placement. 

If you are asking how long from the time they get to Pensacola to when the get to their first duty station it will depend on what platform they end up doing. My son is a Romeo and he was in Fla around 9 months or more if I remember correctly because their schooling is longer than Sierras. If you are talking just the RSS portion of the training, that is about 5 weeks long.

Okay - I'm hyperventilating a bit over this job description. Holy Cow!  I had no idea of what was truly involved.  My conversations with my son were limited about the details before he went in.  I think I will just focus on boot camp graduation right now. lol.  Great info!

I read Lydia’s “path of a rescue swimmer “ 2011 post with 2017 comments. Great explanation but does anyone know the up to date path? Thankyou, snowbird,

week 1  - Day 1 RSS       I am SO nervous!!!

Were can I find updated info on Aviation Rescue Swimmers???


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