Training Environment

[from the stabenow.com vaults, 2007]

March 19

XO Steve Rothchild says our forecast is 4 to 7 foot seas. That’s been our forecast ever since we left port. I look over the side and I’m no expert but I’m thinking those hardly deserve to be called waves, never mind four foot ones. Temps everywhere coming up, Munro command hammering us about sunscreen and hydration.

CWO Andy Molnar

So naturally it’s time for a fire drill, and get everyone into firefighting gear, baclavas, asbestos gloves, masks, Scott air packs, and send them into the engine room where it’s already 120 degrees. I was down there in a t-shirt and I was sweating before I got to the bottom of the stairs.

After lunch and quarters, there is a pipe that the ship is in a training environment, and shortly thereafter we have a simulated oil leak from main engine 1, leaking over onto main engine 2. We’ve lost the engines and power (don’t worry, still simulating) and the ship has never been so quiet. The temperature is rising steadily, even on the bridge with both doors dogged wide open.

the senior chief and the twidgets

Heat rises up from the deck of the fantail where Senior Chief Georgios Minos is ramrodding the crew putting together the pumps and hoses that will bring up seawater to fight a simulated fire. The Senior Chief’s day job, you may recall, is our food service officer, and his crew in real life are electronics techs, or as they are called (and I’m sure it’s a term of affection and respect) twidgets. Right now and in a real emergency, they’re all firefighters.

In the crew’s mess, PO Chris Schultz (also known as “Baby Doc”) is giving a forceful demonstration of the proper way to treat a burn. Basically it’s triage until the emergency is over, keep the wound clean and moist and manage the pain. Like students everywhere no one wants to volunteer an answer but Baby Doc’s not putting up with that—“Who here took my class? You! What do we do for pain?” “Morphine.” “Right!” They have to check the dressings before they use them, too. Chris looked at one dressing’s sell by date and it was made in Korea in 1972.

And then, just as the DC team is about to go into the engine room to continue the drill, CWO Andy Molnar barrels by us bellowing “Actual casualty!” I can be forgiven for thinking someone’s hurt, but no, the pipe for that is “actual personnel casualty.” In this instance, water is backing up from the fire pumps, which were just changed out in port. The drill is put on hold and then stood down and DC (damage control) gets to work on a real problem that would have surfaced in a real emergency. Now it won’t.

There have been a lot of contacts as well, a couple of fishing boats and a white plastic jerry can that for a while we thought might have been a bale of cocaine. XO says we pick them up when we find them because there are often markings on them which will tell us which drug cartel they come from, which adds to our intel. We checked out another contact that was pretty definite on the radar which turned out to be a radar reflector marking fishing gear. We have to check it out, though.

the bale slash jerry can

Sushi in the wardroom this evening in celebration of LTJG. Morgan Barbieri’s 24th birthday. Gotta go.

Later–
I saw the green flash at sunset from the hangar deck. My first.


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