GQ Drills Increase Lincoln Sailors' Readiness to Respond
Story Number: NNS080618-20
Release Date: 6/18/2008 4:46:00 PM
By Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Ashley Houp, USS Abraham Lincoln Public Affairs
ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (NNS) -- After completing a work day of 12 hours or more, Sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) practice the highest state of combat readiness during general quarters (GQ) drills.
GQ is imperative to the survival and mission of the ship, but preparing for an actual GQ situation is even more crucial. As Sailors practice countless situations that could take place on the ship, they learn the fundamental basics of what it takes to fight and survive in any battle that confronts them.
Lincoln's new chief engineer and damage control officer Cmdr. Brad Bittle explained the importance of GQ.
"General quarters is the safest condition of the ship. It gets Sailors away from the danger and allows us to localize the problem so our teams can attack the situation in a planned response."
Deciding the scenario of a GQ requires a lot of planning for each occasion.
"We think of the worst possible occurrence that could go wrong in a certain area, and then we can practice it during GQ and train our Sailors," Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW/AW) Phillip Losier. "We want a space that's not easily accessible so it gives us a challenge when we perform for general quarters."
Recently, the exercises and scenarios for GQ have been reviewed and changed to enhance the skills of Sailors participating.
"We are changing the pace a bit," Bittle said. "We are building on different scenarios to the ones we have done in the past. We want to try new drills to see how we'll react to the new conditions."
It is of utmost importance that Sailors know what to expect during GQ and to obtain their damage control qualification.
"General quarters prepares all Sailors for the event of an actual casualty," Losier said. "It improves the ship's mission readiness by allowing Sailors to become aware of what could happen and how to deal with it if it actually does.
"Every Sailor should become Basic Damage Control qualified," Bittle said. "It will teach them how to properly set fire boundaries, what to look for before opening a hatch or door, what kind of personal protective gear they need and will use, and how to use portable extinguishers. Sailors can review Damage Control books on Abenet (the ship's intranet)."
GQ involves teams of Sailors throughout every portion of the ship, from the flight deck, hangar deck, repair lockers, combat systems, to watch teams, each are as valuable as the next, Losier noted.
"Everybody is involved in GQ; it's an all hands evolution. If one person doesn't participate, that's one more person who doesn't know their job. Everybody needs to be aware of what to do to keep the ship afloat."
Damage Controlman 3rd Class Joshua Garrison, of the Engineering Department and a team leader for general quarters explained that the importance of GQ is to fight for the ship.
"A team leader controls and directs the fire team inside a specific space on the best and safest way to put out the fire or combat the casualty," Garrison said. "If the ship takes a hit or has a mass casualty, it is our job and the rest of the ship's duty to save our lives. Whether it's training or the real deal, we treat everything as a real scenario."
Repair lockers count as a big ingredient in the evolution of GQ.
"In each repair locker on the ship, there are 5 teams," Garrison said. "There's Fire Team 1 and 2, a pipe patching team, shoring team, de-smoking team, and dewatering team. My job is a damage controlman, but our entire job isn't just fighting fires, we also deal with anything that can cause the ship to sink or any irreparable damage. So all damage controlman have multiple jobs and are trained for multiple situations."
The ship's first line of defense on the ship is the flying squad. Before general quarters mode, it is the flying squad that attempts to fix a problem.
"The flying squad is the ship's emergency fire team," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Henry Ramirez. "The flying squad is manned to handle small fires and protect the ship from undergoing further damage. If a problem gets out of control, the ship goes into GQ mode and locks everything down."
Garrison explained that Sailors must possess a teamwork mentality to ensure tasks get completed in a safe and quick manner during GQ.
"You meet a lot of people and we all look out for each other," said Garrison. "There are [yeomen] and [personnel specialists] fighting right along side us. The closer you are to the people you practice with, the more willing you'll be to help that person out. That's the family-oriented teamwork we want to instill."
Abraham Lincoln is deployed to the U.S. Navy 5th Fleet area of responsibility to support Maritime Security Operations.
For more news from USS Abraham Lincoln, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.
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