USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- The men and women of the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Carrier Strike Group (ALCSG) took time during their transit West to the Hawaii Operations Area March 7 to pause and consider the importance of safety in all that they do.
The planned Safety Stand Down also fell in with a mandatory Aviation Safety Stand Down ordered by the Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) over the weekend in response to the rising number of incidents involving aircraft over the past several months.
According to Cmdr. Troy Johnson, safety officer aboard Abraham Lincoln, the fact that CNAF ordered a Navywide Aviation Safety Stand Down that fell on the same day merely added to the already strong sense of the importance of keeping safety top priority as ALCSG deploys.
"As we prepared for deployment, safety was one of the foremost concerns of both the strike group commander and the captain of the ship," said Johnson. "Early on, we determined that we were going to do a safety stand down."
Johnson explained that, at the direction of Commander, Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, Rear Adm. John W. Goodwin, the stand down was expanded to encompass all the ships of the strike group, as well as the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2.
Aircraft safety, including hands-on training regarding Foreign Object Damage, or FOD, was provided by Lincoln's air department. Departments and squadrons were mustered in the hangar bay and on the flight deck to perform a FOD walk down, while the importance of keeping the hangar bay and flight deck free of debris that could be picked up by and cause damage to a jet engine was explained on the public address system.
Each department and division, as well as the squadrons aboard Lincoln, were mustered together to view a 40-minute long safety video produced by the Lincoln's safety department and Lincoln's media department.
"We took a different approach this time," he said. "The video was purely composed of Strike Group Sailors talking to other Sailors about some mishaps they had so that we could have peer-to-peer education.
"A large number of the crew was riveted to the tape because they were able to see their peers discuss their mishaps, the causes of it and ways to prevent it," he added. "I think that it had a more positive impact than the standard Navy safety videos that we show people over and over again."
It can be a challenge to keep Sailors safe on a command such as Lincoln.
"One of the things that we often talk about is that there is a huge turnover on this ship," Johnson explained. "We average about five new Sailors a day. With that constant turnover, safety has to be constant. It has to be repeated so that each of our new Sailors understand the inherent hazards that exist on an aircraft carrier."
"One of the things we constantly stress is Operational Risk Management (ORM)," continued. "It allows the Sailors to take a measured and specific approach to their daily conduct not only in the professional lives, but in their personal lives."
Johnson explained that one of his goals was that ORM be a part of everything a Sailor does aboard, whether it is working on the mess decks, the flight deck, or even going on liberty in a foreign port.
"My number one concern is empowering each individual Sailor to take each evolution one step at a time," Johnson said. "I really want to make it known that each Sailor has to take a personal responsibility for their own safety.
"But also, supervision is the number one key to preventing mishaps aboard. "It is also a priority to hold the khaki accountable for proper supervision," he said.
According to Aviation Ordnanceman (AW) Richard Anderson, of Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 131, having a strike group-wide stand down was helpful.
"We could actually interact with the ship and show them [safety while operating around aircraft]. It helps us get the word out," he added.
Toward the end of the stand down, static displays by each squadron and the departments of the ship gave ALCSG Sailors the opportunity to see what they hear about from safety petty officers all the time.
"Instead of having to go out and talk to each individual one at a time, and tell them," he said, "we can point it out in one lump sum."
For related news, visit the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.