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Tarawa Pushes Through CART II

Navy Newsstand

Story Number: NNS040505-13

Release Date: 5/6/2004 8:59:00 AM

By Journalist Seaman David Perea, USS Tarawa Public Affairs

ABOARD USS TARAWA, San Diego (NNS) -- After a successful Light Off Assessment, the crew of USS Tarawa (LHA 1) headed to sea April 19-22 to take on the next challenge in preparing for their next deployment, the second phase of the Command Assessment of Readiness and Training (CART II).

Before leaving port, Tarawa's crew welcomed the team of assessors from the Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific, who conducted Tarawa's CART II, with the "Eagle of the Sea Gauntlet." As the 30-member team of assessors came aboard in the early morning hours of April 19, they passed through two parallel walls of noisy, shouting Tarawa Sailors, who bombarded them with yells and chants of confidence, and a medley of high-volume music as a backdrop.

"We really wanted them to know that we were ready to blow the doors off this thing, and we weren't messing around," said Lt. j.g. Rose Goscinski, Tarawa's assistant damage control officer who urged on the "Gauntlet" by microphone.

Once everyone was aboard, no time was wasted in the evaluation. Starting the first day, the ship underwent various drills throughout the day, including flight deck and hangar bay fire drills, mass-casualty drills for repair lockers, and engineering drills.

"During one time in my repair locker, there was an actual casualty, and we dealt with it and pressed on to finish the drill," said Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Cristine Orellana. "It just showed how prepared we were to work as a team because of all the training we had."

The ATG assessors were on hand for every drill to make their evaluations.

"The purpose of this was to get a snapshot of where the ship stands in its training and readiness," said Lt. Warren Wattles, the training liaison officer for ATG Pacific. "It also accurately provided training throughout the basic phase, so we can determine what the ship needs and what the ship doesn't need."

With rarely a drill-free hour, Tarawa crew members kept on their toes for any emergency thrown their way.

"During CART II, sometimes it feels like all of these drills are dropping out of the sky at the same time. This obviously wasn't the real thing, but we had to treat it like it was the real thing, especially under the watchful eye of the assessors," said Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class James Follmer, the omnipresent repair locker leader who seemed to be knocking out every emergency scenario thrown his way.

However, the situation may have been better than it seemed. Said Wattles halfway through the underway period, "Tarawa is doing fairly well. This is the first amphibious ship that I've done for training, but from what I've seen, they've performed better than the average ship on the waterfront."

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