EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- More than 150 Sailors assigned to USS Ingraham (FFG 61) completed Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), or pepper spray, training over a two-day period ending Feb. 1.
"Everybody that has the possibility to carry the pepper spray has to go through this course," said Sonar Technician Surface 1st Class Damien Wieland. "That is just about everyone except the engineers."
Wieland also said the ships' OC training program consists of being sprayed initially and maintaining level two and three certification every six months to a year.
"Level two and three exposes Sailors to the chemical by wiping some on them, simulating just being around it but not actually being sprayed directly," said Wieland.
Aside from being sprayed in the face, Sailors participating were required to demonstrate different strikes and weapon retention by completing an obstacle course while contaminated.
"The reason we do it is not necessarily to teach them about the pain involved," said Wieland. "It shows Sailors that it is possible to fight through the pain. Everyone still has to be able to defend themselves, keep positive control of their weapon and take control of the situation."
Seaman Chris Rowee experienced the pain that the OC spray can inflict and didn't like it, although he does believe the training was something he and his shipmates need.
"I was sprayed last year and it was not fun," said Rowee. "It didn't affect me as much during the course, but when I got to the hose the pain took my breath away. I do think it is appropriate, but I don't want to ever do it again."
Many Sailors commented on the experience of having the chemicals on them.
"I overcame a little quicker than most people," said Seaman Jason Shaw. "It does burn your skin and hurts pretty bad like a really bad sun burn."
Operations Specialist Seaman Parris Felphelps ran through the obstacle course, making it seem as though the spray had little affect on him, but when he was rinsed off he showed definite signs of discomfort.
"It really burned after I completed the course," said Felphelps. "At first it didn't affect me. I finished the course without much of a problem, but now that they rinsed me off with the water it feels like I have peppers in my eyes. I think I would do all right in a situation where I had to defend myself."
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