Damage Control Actions Speak Louder than Words Aboard USS Carl Vinson

Story Number: NNS030616-11Release Date: 6/16/2003 3:25:00 PM
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By Journalist Seaman Chris Fahey, USS Carl Vinson Public Affairs

ABOARD USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- History books quote famous heroes who shout brave, inspiring lines while facing incredible odds. For example, 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,' said by Adm. David Farragut, is still spoken by some.

Fate stacked the deck against USS Ross (DD 563) Oct. 9, 1944, and its crew needed more than courageous words to get home. While invading the Philippines, the ship suffered back-to-back explosions from enemy mines. After the blasts, the ship fought through air attacks and a typhoon before finally achieving victory.

According to a World War II historical Web site, the crew's excellent knowledge of damage control (DC), not valiant words, got the Ross home.

Recognizing how to handle internal casualties such as a fire, flood or an explosion while at the same time leaving normal ship operations undisturbed, defines damage control. This concept ties directly into mission readiness aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).

"When the [emergency] bells go off, we're there no matter what the time," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Alex Montoya, Gold Eagle Flying Squad team leader. "This way, the rest of the crew remains uninterrupted."

In addition to early response, highly efficient preventive training has kept fires aboard Vinson in the past five years douseable with portable fire extinguishers, said Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) Gary Leibowitz, divisional leading petty officer.

"The ship's mission is like a heart, and we are the ribs," said Leibowitz.

"We encompass the ship and protect it, so it continues projecting power." Just like Ross' crew in 1944, Vinson Sailors must be knowledgeable in basic damage-control procedures. Such knowledge keeps the ship from going to general quarters (GQ) every time a casualty occurs. "We can't be in two places at the same time, said Leibowitz. "That is why everyone is required to go through a basic DC class. Every Sailor learns how to save his shipmate's life."

For many Sailors aboard Vinson, the importance of DC knowledge is understood so well, they elevate their education by taking the Damage Control Petty Officer course.

"I volunteered for the class," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Jeremy Cid, combat systems fire controlman. "If we get hit, we need to know how to keep the ship fighting." Keeping up with new ways to attack shipboard casualties and training personnel is a valued part of the damage controlmen's job.

"Our job is always changing, said Montoya. "We conduct constant damage control and firefighting training. We know we're doing our job right."

Day after day, night after night, damage controlmen continue to protect the Gold Eagle, and their shipmates.

"Pride and trust is what keeps my team going," said Master Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Mark Miller, divisional leading chief petty officer.

"Farragut's quote is brave, but I would much rather dodge the torpedoes. If they do hit though, I have absolute faith that my team could keep our ship together."

For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.

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