Water Survival Instructors Undergo Seven Weeks of Intense Training

first published on January 5, 2019 by

Marine Corps Instructors of Water Survival undergo seven weeks of intense training in order to teach basically trained Marines how to survive in the water.


One of the most overlooked things about the Marine Corps is their amphibious nature. Every basically trained United States Marine is required to pass a basic swim qualification that involves proving proficiency in ocean survival techniques that could potentially save the Marine’s life if they were to ever stranded in the ocean. These annual training events are held on a year-to-year basis depending on the specific qualification of each individual Marine, and the tests are all administered by Marine Corps Instructors of Water Survival.

A Marine Corps Instructor of Water Survival, or a MCIWS, is one of the unsung job titles of the Marine Corps. Very few Marines are able to undergo and pass the seven weeks of intensive training required in order to become a certified instructor of water survival. Once qualified, these MCIWS Marines and MCIWS instructor trainers are responsible for ensuring that Marines across the Corps are held to the survival standard required by MCO 1500.52D, also known as the Marine Corps Water Survival Training Program. (MCWSTP)

The video below, filmed by Cpl. Sarah Stegall and Lance Corporal Devon Burton from U.S. Marine Corps Motion Imagery, shows a brief portion of the MCIWS training process. It includes several interviews with MCIWS instructor trainers at Paris Island, and future MCIWS Marines who are currently going through the course that will qualify them to train Marines to the MCWSTP standard.