Harry S. Truman Holds Man Overboard Drill

Story Number: NNS080116-08Release Date: 1/16/2008 1:17:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Grieco, USS Harry S. Truman Public Affairs

USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) (HST) conducted a man overboard drill Jan. 9 to help sustain the ship's state of readiness.

"We threw Oscar overboard," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman Melinda Neumann of Deck Department's 3rd division. "We did this to make sure everyone's ready for a real man overboard."

Oscar is Harry S. Truman's Deck Department dummy Sailor who is constantly having difficulty staying on the ship. Somehow, every time training is needed, Oscar volunteers to go overboard.

"When Oscar goes in the water, it simulates a real man overboard," said Senior Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW/AW) Darrin Cassell, leading chief petty officer of Deck Department. "The first person to see it calls it in and notifies the Bridge."

Seaman Tenisha Mitchell of HST's 3rd division of Deck Department and Seaman Ladarius Crenshaw of Deck's 1st division were on aft-lookout watch at the time.

"When I saw him float by, I did what I was trained to do," said Crenshaw. "I called it into the Bridge immediately and threw the jim-buoy in the water."

Cassell said the bridge team sounded the man overboard alert over the 1MC announcement system and the rescue began.

Cassell said the bridge team also announced the water temperature, which helped Harry S. Truman's Search and Rescue (SAR) swimmers determine what to wear and how long the overboard Sailor had before going into hypothermia.

"If that person was in 50-degree water for 20 minutes they could begin going into hypothermic shock," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class (SW/AW) Brandon Girard, a surgical technician in Harry S. Truman's Medical Department. "We established communication with Medical to keep them informed of the patient's needs. We also manned up for stretcher bearers."

Communication is a very important part of rescuing a man overboard.

"The first person on scene here manned the phone and established communication with the Bridge," said Cassell.

Line petty officer in charge of the forward line, Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class David Searles of Truman's 2nd division of Deck Department said deck had the rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) boats ready in about four minutes.

"Everybody got out here and dressed out fast," said Searles. "It was a very safe and successful evolution."

Mitchell said she popped a smoke buoy to help mark Oscar's position so the RHIB rescue crew would be able to find him.

Cassell said Oscar's man-overboard indicator on his float coat also helped pin-point his location.

The man-overboard indicator is a system, which activates global-positioning system tracking should a Sailor fall in the sea.

Mitchell and Crenshaw stayed on station to track rescue efforts and make reports to the Bridge.

Aircrew Survival Equipmentman 2nd Class (AW) Ismael Rodriguez, one of Truman's SAR swimmers said once Oscar was located, he assessed his medical condition and began performing basic first aid.

"He had a minor cut on his leg," said Rodriguez. "My job was to help control the bleeding and keep him conscious. We brought him back to the ship so the corpsmen on scene could rush him to Medical."

Girard said in a real situation he would've possibly started giving him warm blankets and intravenous injections to help stabilize him.

Girard, Rodriguez, Cassell, Mitchell, Neumann, Crenshaw and Searles agree the drill helped prepare the crew for an actual causality. They all said they reacted as if Oscar was a real Sailor.

"We aim to get people back on board in about ten minutes," said Cassell. "We train as we fight, because a man could go overboard at any moment."

Searles said Oscar arrived back on board in about nine minutes.

"In the case of a real man overboard, if we don't get to him in time, he could die," said Neumann.

Girard said these types of drills also help keep Medical in a state of readiness.

"We have new personnel coming every day," said Girard. "If someone doesn't know what's going on, then 'how is the patient going to receive proper care?'"

For more news from USS Harry S. Truman, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.

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