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Kearsarge Beefs Up Damage Control Training

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050531-12
Release Date: 5/31/2005 2:16:00 PM

By Journalist 1st Class (SW) Robert Keilman, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

PERSIAN GULF (NNS) -- In accordance with the Navy’s new Continuous Training Process, USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) has been increasing its tempo for damage control and integrated training evolutions with a series of drills during the week of May 23.

The ongoing training is being used to not only increase the damage control efficiency and combat readiness of Kearsarge’s crew, but to also prepare them for what’s in store after the ship returns from deployment - namely, the upcoming Commander’s Assessment for Readiness and Training (CART II).

“Although there’s no written rule, there used to be an expression that once a ship enters the [Persian] Gulf, all drilling stops,” said Senior Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Scott Wood, Kearsarge’s Damage Control Division leading chief petty officer and the ship’s Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) coordinator. “If we don’t drill while we’re in the Gulf, we’ll break the continuous training process. As a result, the ship will have to drill twice as hard to reach the readiness level it was at before it stopped drilling.”

Wood explained that the Navy’s new Continuous Training Process differs from the Navy’s past training procedures, where a ship would deploy for six months, return home to undergo a yard period of equipment maintenance and upgrades, conduct work-ups, then deploy again.

“The Navy has changed its inter-deployment readiness cycle,” said Wood. “Now, Navy ships will constantly train so they will be ready for deployment at any given time.”

According to Kearsarge’s Damage Control Assistant, Lt. Cmdr. Alan Gilmore, continuous training requires well-planned combat, firefighting and damage control scenarios. The scenarios range from a trash can fire to a Total Ship’s Survivability Evolution, which includes various types of scenarios taking place at once, ranging from simulated inbound missile attacks to a ruptured pipe and main space fire. This will ensure that crew members are ready for any type of casualty at any given time.

"Most of the ship’s crew doesn’t see the six to eight hours DCTT puts into these drills,” explained Gilmore. “Most Sailors only see what happens for two hours. Before the drill actually takes place, members of DCTT have to brief the scenario and do a safety walkthrough. After the drill, DCTT has to debrief on what happened during the drill.”

“We’re fortunate that we were given the opportunity to do these drills,” said Gilmore. “It’s an opportunity for us to continue our goal to increase our proficiency. If we don’t use our skills, we lose them. The more often we train, the better we become. Teamwork keeps us strong and training keeps us ready.”

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