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USS Philippine Sea Emphasizes Damage Control Training

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080606-19
Release Date: 6/6/2008 2:56:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Steinhour, Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group Public Affairs

USS PHILIPPINE SEA, At Sea (NNS) -- Preparing for fires or a casualty-at-sea requires a rapid and accurate response, and thanks to the Damage Control Training Team (DCTT) aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG-58), the at-sea fire party stands ready and prepared to respond to this type of situation.

Walking down a passageway during a drill, there is visible white smoke emanating from the door. Over the ship's 1MC system sounds a barrage of bells, followed by a voice "calling away" a fire on the ship. It is a simulated fire used to prepare Philippine Sea's at sea fire party who, in case of an actual event, would rapidly respond to the casualty.

"The crew keeps the ship afloat. We're by ourselves out here," said Machinery Repairman 1st Class (SW/AW) Franco Nora. "You can't dial 911 and expect the fire department to show up, we have to take care of it ourselves. We have to do our best to train the personnel so we can combat the casualties along with completing our mission."

The exercises are set up to be as realistic as possible so that those who would be charged with handling an actual shipboard fire, will be prepared for the many possible situations that could arise.

"In a real environment with heavy smoke you won't be able to see, and because we're able to smoke out a space with a smoke generator, it makes it a lot more realistic," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class (SW) David Orozco. "It helps us rely more on our instincts and the knowledge of our ship to figure out where we need to be."

"The drills are as close to the real thing as we can get," said Nora. We can't setup a real fire, so we make it realistic so when it comes time for the real deal, we're ready."

One important point of this training is to provide a more accurate knowledge of what to do if a situation changes, and equip them with the tools needed to get the job done.

"DCTT is a good refresher for the at-sea fire party. It keeps us familiar with the different types of casualties and the equipment we'll need," said Damage Controlman 3rd Class James Campbell.

"Situational awareness is very important. If you don't know what's going on around you, you could injure yourself or others," said Nora. "If there is an ammunition locker close to the fire, you need to be aware and keep that room cool to avoid explosions."

Along with the physical work involved in the training, the drills give Sailors the proper scenarios to practice relaying messages. During a casualty not communicating information to those who need it can lead to confusion and a lack of support for those working on the scene.

"Relaying the message from the scene to the repair locker is very important. Repair lockers don't have the visual capabilities to know what's going on in the space," explained Nora. "We always stress that the repeat back is loud, clear and correct so the proper information is passed down the line to the repair locker."

DCTT trains for other types of casualties in addition to firefighting training. Whether the event is a rupture in steel bulkheads, or a busted pipe resulting in flooding, DCTT makes sure these Sailors are well trained and prepared.

"Running these drills helps me trust everyone that works along side me," said Orozco. "I'm confident that in a real situation we'll be able to take care of a casualty, and take care of it fast and safely."

Philippine Sea is one of six vessels in the Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group currently deployed in the Navy's 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO help develop security in the maritime environment, which promotes stability and global prosperity. These operations complement the counterterrorism and security efforts of regional nations and seek to disrupt violent extremists' use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons or other material.

For more news from Nassau Expeditionary Strike Group www.navy.mil/local/esg8/.



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