Training for the Worst: Ford Conducts Active Shooter Drill

Story Number: NNS190418-14Release Date: 4/18/2019 2:47:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gitte Schirrmacher, USS Gerald R. Ford Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The drill allowed the ship’s in-port security force and masters-at-arms to exercise their preplanned responses in the event of an active shooter onboard.

“You see it every day in the news,” said Chief Master-at-Arms Jonathan Plowman. “Active shooters have been happening throughout the world. It’s important for our team to see what this scenario might look like in a real-world event.”

Ford conducts these trainings monthly, said Plowman, and they are designed to evaluate how efficiently the team responds to the threat and returns to normal operations. Running these scenarios also allows Ford’s medical department to practice treating casualties associated with an active shooter. By practicing in a training environment, the security training team adjusts as necessary.

“When you respond to an active shooter, you don’t have the opportunity to wait for backup,” said Plowman. “During this drill, we need to execute as safely as possible, hopefully with no casualties. But that’s the great thing about these trainings is that we can go back and evaluate mistakes made and hopefully next time we will be better.”

Sailors participating appreciate running these real-life scenarios with people they work with.

“I love the hands-on training that we get,” said Master-At-Arms 3rd Class Magdalena Newton. “I love being able to actually pull out my weapon and clear rooms. It lets me know I can turn to my teammates and trust this person to do what we do. To be able to practice this gives me a little peace of mind that I am able to [take down an active shooter] in confidence.”

Active shooter incidents are nothing new inside of the Navy. On Sept. 16, 2013, an active shooter fatally shot 12 people and injured three others at the headquarters of the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in Washington D.C. Most recently, an active shooter wounded a Sailor at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach. These events come to the forefront for Ford’s security team when conducting these types of trainings.

“I believe that the shooting in Oceana made it aware to people that it’s not always somebody else, it could happen here,” said Senior Chief Aviation Ordinanceman Joshua Adkins, Ford’s antiterrorism tactical watch officer during the drill. “When something like that happens in your backyard it tends to affect you a lot more than if something happens of the other side of the world. It shows us that it does happen and we need to be prepared for it.”

Gerald R. Ford is a first-in-class aircraft carrier and the first new aircraft carrier designed in more than 40 years. Ford is currently undergoing its post-shakedown availability at Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding.


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