Worst Case Scenario
Damage control is every Sailor's responsibility
In July 1967, aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA 59) experienced one of the most costly at-sea fires the Navy has seen since World War II.
After a missile malfunctioned and fired aboard the ship from an F-4B Phantom II, a series of explosions and a subsequent fire claimed the lives of 134 crew members. The crew was poorly trained on how to respond to an incident of that magnitude, so efforts to save the ship from complete destruction lasted hours and left an additional 300 men injured. From the fire and flames, however, came the birth of modern naval damage control.
Fast forward to 2018, and Sailors from around the fleet come to Norfolk on a weekly basis to experience live fires and flooding in a controlled environment, to prepare for what could happen while at sea. With the Farrier Fire Fighting School, the U.S. Navy has given its men and women the opportunity to train for worst-case scenarios.
"Here at Farrier, we try to give as much realistic training as possible to the fleet by using [the USS Buttercup Wet Trainer], using live fires to try to get people used to fighting real casualties - as close as possible and keeping it as safe as possible," said Chief Damage Controlman Kenya Wilson, an instructor at the school. "We can do multiple things, from fires to flooding, training to dewatering. Anything that we can do that can possibly happen on a ship, we can train for here."
The school is named for Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Gerald W. Farrier, who lost his life aboard Forrestal while attempting to extinguish ordnance that caught fire. In his memory, the Navy created what Wilson described as "a one-stop shop" that hosts tens of thousands of students each year for both classroom instruction and hands-on experience.