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GW Sailors Train Hard, Even in the Yards

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070405-24
Release Date: 4/5/2007 8:16:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW/AW) Najah M. Stanford, USS George Washington Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- While USS George Washington (CVN 73) (GW) has been in dry dock at Norfolk Naval Shipyard since September 2006, the ship’s crew is training hard with various damage control (DC) scenarios, including a general quarters (GQ) drill April 5.

GQ is one of the most efficient training environments because it is an all-hands effort, said Lt. Cmdr. Ric Flores, GW’s Damage Control Assistant. GQ means the ship has undergone damage that cannot be handled by the ship’s at-sea fire party alone.

“We have to know how to protect our ship,” said Flores. “We have to be prepared to respond to any damage or casualty on the ship.”

Crew members go through a series of different drills, set up and supervised by members of the Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) and the ship’s fire marshal or duty fire marshal. Members of DCTT use everything from flags, bubble wrap, and smoke machines to simulate a realistic casualty.

“You can’t get underway without training on how to save the ship,” said CWO5 David Stacey, the ship’s fire marshal.

Stacey said even though the ship is in the yards the likelihood of damage is just the same as being out to sea.

“Fire, floods, and deep void rescues, these casualties can happen weather we are out to sea or not,” Stacey said.

Currently on board GW, GQ is held every Thursday with a different tactical scenario which promotes training in all aspects of a repair locker. The most recent GQ training showed Sailors how to properly don a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA).

There are DCTT members at every repair locker and unit locker on board the ship. DCTT members are experienced Sailors in pay-grades E-5 or above with extensive damage control qualifications, said Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW/AW) Kendall Boyd, GW’s assistant DCTT coordinator.

“As a member of DCTT, it’s my job to make sure Sailors on board get realistic and accurate scenarios to train in,” he said.

Generally Sailors in a repair locker must have basic DC qualifications in order to perform specific jobs. Some Sailors are barely on board before they are assigned to a repair locker so the need for consistent training is imperative.

“In my short time being on board what I have learned so far will help in case of an emergency,” said Intelligence Specialist Seaman Apprentice Megan Bridges of Intel Department. She is the Unit Locker 31’s Number 1 Nozzle man.

Different drills are used to train different groups of Sailors. For example, fire drills are generally for the In-port Emergency Team (IET) and the at-sea fire party.

IET is made up of Sailors on duty from different GW departments, all of whom have advanced damage control training. While in port, IET actually does the fire-fighting, deep void rescues and any other casualty they are qualified to handle.

At-sea fire party consist of Sailors from Engineering Department’s Damage Control and Repair divisions. While in port, the at-sea fire party gives training to members of IET and ship’s company.

According to DCTT members, fire can happen at anytime for all kinds of reasons. The ship and its personnel must always stay ready for anything.

Flores reminded Sailors that they are the ship’s first and last lines of defense.

“Damage control is an all-hands responsibility,” he said. “If the ship catches on fire, if it starts to flood, whatever the damage might be, we are it.”

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