Ingraham SAR Swimmers Receive Bi-Annual Inspection from ATG

Story Number: NNS071020-02Release Date: 10/20/2007 11:17:00 AM
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By Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Sabrina Wade-Brent, Fleet Public Affairs Center, Det. Northwest

EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific Northwest conducted Navy Sea Air Rescue (SAR) swimmers gear inspection on board USS Ingraham (FFG-61), Oct.16.

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jeremiah Gerberding, Ingraham SAR swimmer, said it is good to get inspected, because it gives them an opportunity to find out what needs to be updated and to make sure their equipment is available when it's needed.

"Anyone who discourages getting an inspection needs to give up his qualifications, because it's an important thing," said Gerberding. "It can get pretty chilly in the water and if our wet suits are not properly fitted or has a leak in them, we could also be in danger ourselves. We save lives and without inspections, who will save ours?"

Being a SAR swimmer requires strength and the swimming ability to pluck drowning victims from storm-tossed oceans or raging rivers. They must also have the ability to lift prone victims down a mountainside. Their strength and physical skills may make the difference between life and death. But without the proper equipment and gear they too will be victims.

Members of ATG Pacific Northwest went over the equipment SAR members use and made sure the planned maintenance was done on schedule. The inspection is given every two years and last up to a week.

Damage Controlman Fireman Mathew Villafuerte, Ingraham SAR swimmer, said being out in the water is what he's trained to do and if the equipment is not working properly then he's not doing his job correctly.

"For the most part our materials are ready for use," said Villafuerte. "When we go into the water, all we have is ourselves and if we are not prepared, there will be two lives to save instead of one."

"I wish they did inspections more often, being that this is a life-saving operation and things always need to be updated," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Patrick Thompson, Ingraham Deck Department leading petty officer. "When someone goes over the side, there is no room for mistakes. There needs to be a better understanding taken by the ships in what we do and how we do it."

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