Retired Master Chief Sonar Technician Paul Abney woke up to find an old-fashioned bucket brigade, with Sailors manually hauling water out of the engineering room.
"Just the Saturday before, there were so many successes," remembered Abney. "We'd stopped all the progressive flooding. We had power jumpered up forward. We had chill water jumpered up forward. We had the forward berthing areas opened up. This was real success. And you saw this look of defeat in a lot of these kids' eyes, like we were going to lose the ship."
The DC team finally cut a hole in the side of the Cole
, snaking a pump out of the ship and above the waterline. Next came the power, which came back on later Sunday. According to Abney, after borrowing some fittings from divers the Navy had sent in, repairmen connected torpedo air hoses to two diesel units and powered the generator that way.
The crew was very innovative. They did things that you don't read in a book." - HMCM James Parlier
They also, Parlier added, relied on their training. "All those young men and women who had to put their 'grow up now and do it' caps on realized ... training is not for naught ... and that training meant saving their ship and their shipmates. Everything they learned was put into action that day and those days after. ... I know (Sailors) complain about all the drills, training and more training that you do in all combat areas - DC, medical and more - but it pays off. ... We kept our ship afloat."
The Navy took those lessons and turned them into training for new Sailors. Battle Stations 21, the final evaluation for recruits at Recruit Training Command, Naval Station Great Lakes, Illinois, incorporates a scenario from the Cole
attack, as well as other tragedies at sea, and forces incoming seamen to work together to save their ship.
Realistic special effects make it feel like the attack and its aftermath are unfolding around them, said Jason Mosher, the simulator's operations technician. He should know; he survived the Cole
"I saw it as a way to honor our fallen shipmates and keep their memory alive because the kids that come through here every night, they hear about them and they know about them," he said. "It's not just part of boot camp curriculum. They get to experience something. ... From what we've heard about Sailors who have been through here, they don't forget it. That's pretty powerful.
"I would hope that our shipmates would know that they're not forgotten," Mosher continued. "Their shipmates ... are learning a lot from their legacy, and they're learning a lot that will help save their lives, hopefully, if something like that should happen again. ... A facilitator here once told us ... when the recruit got to their station, the facilitator told them to wait. ... The recruit responded, 'Petty Officer, I'm not going anywhere. I'm scared [expletive].' That's exactly what we hope for, and that's what will help those Sailors going forward ... that sort of preparation for the eventuality of taking combat damage."
Still, no matter how scary and important training may seem in the beginning, over time, battle drills and damage control exercises can start to feel rote, tedious even, the Cole
chiefs conceded. The repetition is there for a reason, designed to develop muscle memory and teach Sailors to react instinctively, and so they can't let themselves become bored.