NORFOLK NAVAL SHIPYARD (NNS) -- Joining forces with the Naval Safety Center, USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) tackled the drunk driving issue head-on with its first driving-under-the-influence (DUI) fair Feb. 27 through March 3.
Sailors were required to walk through the abbreviated stages of an actual DUI case, from the inciting decision of whether or not to get behind the wheel to the ensuing consequences with Navy and civil authorities.
"It took about two weeks to set up the DUI fair," said Lt. Mike Overton, Truman's assistant safety officer. "I contacted the president of 'Safe Drive Norfolk', a non-profit organization that meets to talk about accident prevention and also distributes training, and they were able to get sponsors for the fair, including the Virginia State Police and Mothers Against Drunk Driving."
In addition to the ship providing props and support to the Safety Department, the Naval Safety Center also provided their in-depth knowledge and assistance.
"We have different stations set up where the Sailors are seeing people killed by drunk drivers," said John Williams, a traffic safety specialist from the Naval Safety Center. "Sailors are participating in activities going from the club, dancing and having fun, and then they're going to a DUI processing center where they might be detained by police."
Several departments on the ship lent a hand to the fair to ensure that the experience was as realistic as possible. Medical Department set up a fake cadaver in a surgery ward, where they saw the mock results of their DUI accident. From there, the participants received an authentic nonjudicial punishment set up by Truman's Legal Department, followed by civil sentencing to 20 years in prison for manslaughter. After that, it was off to jail and finally to the funeral of the victim, complete with a casket heaped with blooms.
All hands were required to attend the fair in hopes that the demonstration will hit home. For some, like Airman Robert Cofield, it did.
"As far as it goes, you really see you're not the only one affected," said Cofield. "Not only can you hurt yourself, but someone else's life can be taken."
The realism of the exhibits brought to light how serious a decision drinking and driving is.
"Every station seems like the actual event," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) Airman Dennis Bright, who attended the fair. "You feel like you're in the actual situation. It's a definite eye-opener - it changed my mind."
This was the ship's and Safety Center's ultimate goal in putting on this fair.
"I think the fair was an absolute success, but that will only be told in time," said Overton. "By talking to Sailors candidly about drinking and driving, and hearing them talk about it, I got a lot of positive feedback."
According to Naval Safety Center Driving Safety Specialist Bonnie Revell, the Navy saw more than 1,500 alcohol-related incidents in 2005. Truman's DUI fair is one sizable step toward reducing and ultimately eliminating Navy DUI statistics.
Truman is currently undergoing its dry-docked planned incremental availability (DPIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va., and will return to sea this fall.
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.