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Evaluation Underway: Nimitz crew steps up tempo as training drills press on

By: JOSN Michael Douglas

Afloat Training Group Pacific (ATGPAC) came aboard August 13, as USS Nimitz (CVN 68) crewmembers made preparations for getting underway. (Tailored Ship's Training Ability) TSTA One marks the first phase in a 16-week evaluation period of Nimitz crewmembers, as they are evaluated on their damage control knowledge and their ability to apply that knowledge to real life scenarios aboard the ship.

"We watch you drill. We do an inventory of your (damage control) lockers. We are basically looking to see what areas you need most help in," said Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) Robyn Dooley, ATGPAC instructor.

According to Dooley, the TSTA training is customized to focus on the areas needing the most improvement. The goal is to ensure the ship's crew is ready for anything in the event of a shipboard emergency while underway.

TSTA One will be followed by TSTA Two, three and FEP (Final Evaluation Program). According to Dooley, the later phases of the evaluation will require more teamwork among the crew as Nimitz proceeds with the drills.

"That way Nimitz can get used to fighting as a team," said Dooley. "TSTA Two is where we're gonna start the integration of training teams. There will be more scenarios involving multi-lockers. There will be multi-casualties throughout the ship. We'll be training for the end result, which is FEP," said Damage Control Senior Chief (SW) Michael Poirier, coordinator and technical advisor for damage control.

"(During FEP) You fight fires for five to six hours," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 (SW) Gary Dedmon.

According to Dooley, the focus of the evaluation aims at making the ship's crew more cohesive and prepared to work together in the event of an actual emergency while underway.

"Hats off to Damage Control Chief (SW) Steve Edwards, Damage Control Chief (SW/AW) Ron White and Damage Control Chief (SW) Jim Head for all the preperation and training provided for the repair lockers," said Poirier.

According to Poirier, it is of utmost importance the crew receives DC and CBR (Chemical, Biological, Radiological) training.

"It's learn or burn," says Poirier. "That's why the crew needs this training. It (a CBR threat) can show up anywhere. As damage controlmen, that's what we live, breathe and eat. That's our job."

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