PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- When the bells sound over the ship's announcing system, Sailors get to their repair lockers in a hurry, to grab their gear and get to their stations.
On board the amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48) there are two teams who ensure the safety of the crew on the inside of the ship and on the flight deck.
The at-sea fire party, or "Flying Squad" as they are more commonly referred to, are the first responders to any fire on board the Ashland ensuring the shipboard safety of all areas of the ship. They are a rapid response team primarily made up of damage controlmen, hull technicians and machinery repairmen, composed of approximately 10 to 12 people.
Damage Controlman 3rd Class Michael Rinegold from Webster, N.Y., who is the scene leader for the Flying Squad and the team leader for the flight deck's Crash and Salvage team, said that muscle memory and regular training results in a team of Sailors who can take control of an incident within minutes and stop the casualty.
"We're trained to respond to incidents that, under very unique circumstances, might end up resulting in mass casualties of personnel. We're specialized fire fighters," said Rinegold. "If a helo crashes or a storeroom bursts into flames in the middle of the night, and nobody has dealt with that before, they're going to run around like chickens with their heads cut off because they won't have any constructive direction of what to do or where to go; whereas we know exactly what to do."
Since starting patrol on June 3, the teams have trained in flight deck drills, general quarters, repair locker drills, and Flying Squad drills.
Hull Technician 3rd Class Curtis Smith from Rockwell, Texas, who is a Hot Suitman for the flight deck's Crash and Salvage team and the lead nozzleman for the Flying Squad, said the job of the team members is not only to combat fires and casualties inside the ship and outside, but also to teach newcomers on board how to do the same.
"We do training all the time. We're constantly on our toes. We are the ones that train everybody else how to be a basic damage controlman," he said. "Whenever we practice these drills, we try to make it as close as possible to the actual casualty. We train like we fight basically."
Ashland is forward deployed to Sasebo, Japan, and is a part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group on patrol in the U.S. 7th fleet area of operations.
For more news from USS Ashland, visit www.ashland.navy.mil
For more news from Commander, Amphibious Squadron 11, visit www.navy.mil/local/cpr11/