USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) brought thousands of pieces of protective equipment on board April 14, in an effort to prepare the crew for the possibility of dealing with a chemical, biological or radiological (CBR) attack.
Personnel from the ship's Damage Control (DC) division directed a 100-man working party for three days to transfer more than 5,000 CBR kits from the hangar bay to various spaces throughout the ship.
The ship now commands enough CBR equipment to issue each Sailor a full CBR kit containing the Advanced Chemical Protective Garment (ACPG) and the MU-2P gas mask.
Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) Leethaniel Edwards, who led one of the working parties said having individual kit bags is a new initiative for Truman.
For the last deployment, Sailors were issued individual gas masks, but not ACPGs. The ACPGs were stored in the repair lockers.
"The kit bag is about the best idea I've seen. It's a Navywide thing," Edwards said. "For each of the 5,000-plus Sailors on board, we have a kit bag. They'll keep it the whole time they're on the ship."
The gas masks and ACPGs protect Sailors from a variety of chemical and biological agents, which enemy combatants could use against the ship's crew. Certain agents have far-reaching and damaging effects on the human body, and are so horrifying that their use has been banned by international law. Protecting Sailors from these attacks remains a primary concern for damage control efforts aboard Truman.
"Maybe for the life of the ship we will never have that kind of attack," said Damage Controlman Fireman Dominic Green, who helped Tuesday by binding together empty palates. "But, you don't know for sure and you don't want to take that chance."
Completing the onload was the first step in protecting Sailors from CBR attack, but Edwards said the crew still needs to undergo training before the ship reaches CBR readiness.
One aspect of the training is having Sailors complete the 309 Personal Qualifications Standards, which deals with CBR defense, said Edwards.
"We need to train first. We have a brand new crew, and they haven't been through the drills. A lot of them don't know what to do," Edwards said. "I want at least to get the crew 75-percent qualified in 309. The more people we get qualified to help us out the better because, God forbid that one of our Sailors go down or one of our DCmen (damage controlmen) go down, who's going to take his spot? It's the Sailor standing next to him. Everybody should be qualified the same amount. It doesn't matter if you're a DCman or not."
Onloading enough CBR kits for the entire crew was a large undertaking, which required the cooperation of crew members from throughout the ship.
Edwards said without the help of the working party, it would have taken Damage Control division much longer to complete the work.
"When DC does working parties, we make it fun. We'll talk, crack jokes, sing and I'll always go out and buy them drinks," Edwards said. "It's 5,000 bags I got. It would just be my division doing it. We only have about 33 people. It would take us about two weeks."
With the working party, it only took Truman Sailors three days.
Now, the ship has a full complement of CBR gear; enough to protect each Sailor in the event of a CBR attack.
For more news from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.