BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) are participating in shipwide exercises beginning March 20, which are aimed at returning the ship and its crew to operational status following an extended stay at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
General Quarters (GQ), engineering, crash and salvage, man overboard, sighting team, security, and other drills are being conducted during simulated underway periods in which the crew operate on an at sea schedule.
"The fact that we're done with most of the work we had to do in the yards means we can shift our focus now to training," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class (AW) Billy Ramirez, leading petty officer of Air Department's crash and salvage team.
Ramirez and the rest of crash and salvage team are spending much of their simulated underway practicing aircraft salvage scenarios on the flight deck. Using a specially rigged forklift, mattresses, tie-down straps, and a dolly, about 20 sailors trained to quickly rig and move an aircraft that has sheared its landing gear on touchdown.
"It's all about preparing to go to sea," said Ramirez "We've also got some graded trials coming up for flight deck certification -- so it's good to be able to practice outside the shipyard environment.
"Lincoln's entire crew is taking part in a GQ drill, an exercise designed to simulate a major emergency aboard the ship. Hands-on training was conducted in every department in addition to damage control scenarios in the hangar bay and throughout the ship.
"There are a lot of new sailors onboard so we have tons of training to do," said Chief Personnel Specialist (SW/AW) James E. Robertson, a member of Lincoln's Damage Control Training Team.
Robertson said that because about 40 percent of Lincoln's crew are new to the ship since its last major underway period in 2006, hands-on training in a simulated at sea environment is crucial to achieving operational status.
"When you first come aboard, you don't really know where much of anything is outside of your workstation, berthing, and the mess deck," said Robertson. "The challenge for us on the training team is to get these new people comfortable moving around the ship in areas that they may not be familiar with -- and being able to do it if the ship were filled with smoke."
During the GQ drill, Robertson supervised a team of fire investigators as they moved through the ship in full-fire fighting equipment. The team faced various scenarios that would occur during an actual shipboard emergency and instructed on how to deal with them.
"In one space we had a smoke machine going so when they opened the hatch - Poof, it hit them in the face and they had to turn on their oxygen and go through the motions as if it were an actual smoke-filled space," said Robertson.
Not all challenges were as self-explanatory. Robertson said that much of the night's training was meant to familiarize new team members with what damage control symbols are used to represent different hazards during training events.
"If one of our investigators sees a piece of bubble wrap taped to a bulkhead, they need to know that during a GQ that represents bubbled paint, an indication of fire in the adjoining space," said Robertson.
Lincoln's crew will see more training, simulated underway periods and drills in the coming weeks as the ship works to transition from a shipyard environment to operational status.
For more news from the USS Abraham Lincoln, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn72/.