SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS America (LHA 6) completed a search and rescue (SAR) recertification with the Afloat Training Group (ATG) at Naval Base San Diego from Jan. 22 to Feb. 2.
The recertification process allowed America to continue operations while underway and covered a wide array of missions ranging from downed pilots to capsized vessels.
On the first day, America's SAR swimmers went into the base pool and were evaluated on their ability to untangle a pilot from a parachute, perform a 400-meter 'buddy' tow, defend against combative victims, and use floating medical litters, while in the water.
"The purpose of recertifying is to keep the SAR swimmers proficient in all the latest techniques throughout the Navy," said Boatswain's Mate Senior Chief Leonard Miller, America's Deck Department leading chief petty officer. "The swimmers have to be ready for anything that comes at them, like treating downed pilots or survivors in a panic."
Rescue swimmers must ensure their own safety and the safety of the victim, at all times.
It is paramount for SAR swimmers to maintain physical readiness through consistent training regimens. According to Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Jarrett Hall, a SAR swimmer assigned to America, they have to be strong swimmers.
"They also have to be mentally and physically tough to stay safe in the open sea," said Hall. "Our weekly training paid off toward getting through the inspection."
The second day consisted of equipment, swimmer gear, boat, and administrative checks as well as a live practice rescue in the harbor. The rescue consisted of the swimmer retrieving a victim in the harbor and administering proper first aid.
"They're all professional, they're all proficient, and they have a lot of pride in what they do," said Miller. "I couldn't ask for more. Those guys are the ones who keep it going."
America's swimmers successfully completed the training. As a result, officials certified the ship for underway duty.
"Any inspections that involve life-saving procedures are important because it can mean the difference between life and death," said Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Somers Steelman, America's primary SAR swimmer. "I'm proud to be part of what SAR stands for."
America is currently undergoing a Post-Shakedown Availability (PSA) in which the ship's crew and assigned contractors make improvements to the ship's design. America's PSA will pave the way for future America-class amphibious assault ships.
For more news from USS America (LHA 6), visit www.navy.mil/local/lha6/.