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BHR Successfully Completes ATG Test

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070212-14
Release Date: 2/12/2007 7:00:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Dustin Mapson, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) (BHR) brought one of her pre-deployment certifications to a successful close and ended three days of assessment by the Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific as she pulled into homeport Feb. 8 after a one-night underway.

Unit Level Training Assessment-Sustainment, or ULTRA-S, is an assessment of the ship's training proficiency level in warfare areas such as engineering, damage control, combat systems, medical and aviation. The ATGPAC assessment also covered combat systems defense capabilities, seamanship, navigation and well deck operations.

Fire drills and simulated missile, small-boat attacks, precision anchoring, low-visibility navigation, mass casualty, and general quarters scenarios tested every aspect of the ship’s warfare capabilities, according to BHR Commanding Officer Capt. Stephen Greene.

“ULTRA-S proved more than our ability to perform well during drills and assessments,” said Greene. “It proved that we are training to the standard required to ensure we are able to defend and save the ship in an actual crisis.”

The fundamental purpose of ULTRA-S is for ATG to provide an outsider’s opinion on the ship’s training and overall readiness, according to Commander Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 7 Capt. Bradley D. Martin.

“UTLRA-S takes the ship’s self-assessed level of proficiency, referred to as the training figure of merit (TFOM), and compares it against that of ATG,” said Martin.

“The TFOM indicates the number of exercises and mission areas we have completed and measures the level of success we have had,” said Martin. “It is a grade we give to ourselves for how well we’re training.”

As COMPHIBRON 7, Martin commands, coordinates, integrates, and executes the deployed operations of all surface ships and units assigned to Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 5 and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

BHR’s Skipper said ATG can be described as the keeper of the standard for training.

“ATG sets the standard for training afloat,” said Greene. “What we try to do at the deck plate level is ensure our training teams are training the crew to at or above ATG’s high standards of readiness."

After receiving the outbrief from the senior assessor from ATG, BHR’s skipper knew his crew was not only prepared for this assessment, but they are trained and ready to fight every day.

“What we learned from the assessment is our training teams meet or exceed ATG’s stringent requirements,” said Greene. “This crew is precisely where it needs to be, not only for ULTRA-S, but for our primary mission of conducting prompt and sustained combat operations at sea.”

The multifaceted assessment by ATGPAC tested all warfare elements' ability to operate alone and as a cohesive unit, according to Lt. Chad Bibler, ATGPAC training liaison officer. Everything from the engineering department watch stander’s ability to effectively maintain and operate their equipment, to the damage control repair locker’s competence level in fighting main space fires and flooding.

Bibler said ULTRA-S is an overall assessment of the ship’s current level of readiness.

“ULTRA-S helps to ensure the standard of training being applied is consistent,” said Bibler. “What happens is we take a brief snapshot of where the ship stands in terms of training and compare that to the ship’s self-assessed level. Essentially we are assessing the assessors.”

An ULTRA-S certification requires ATG to find no more than a 10 percent difference in their assessment compared to the ship’s self assessment.

“The whole idea is to allow deficiencies to be picked up early and corrected,” said Bibler. “Through continuous assessment at the shipboard level and by ATG we are able to stop small deficiencies from becoming significant problem areas. The end result is to create an environment that promotes continuous training and constant readiness.”

Greene said the hard work and dedication of his training teams and crew directly resulted in BHR’s success during ULTRA-S.

“Our efforts to achieve a high level of continuous combat readiness paid off in this assessment,” said Greene. “Now the challenge for our training teams and the crew will be to maintain this level of readiness throughout our upcoming deployment. Training doesn’t stop at the end of ULTRA-S.”

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