ABOARD USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- A select group of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Sailors had the opportunity to display their skills April 27 during Fleet Week U.S.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., by taking first place in the 3rd Annual Damage Control (DC) Olympics.
A 12-man team of damage controlmen competed against teams from six other ships in a series of contests at the Resolve Fire & Hazard Response, Inc., Marine Fire Fighting Training Center in Port Everglades, each designed to test their firefighting and rescue abilities. The event was sponsored by Reserve Marine Group, a company that provides salvage, firefighting, wreckage removal and training services to the maritime industry.
"They practiced every afternoon for the events because they wanted to win," said Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW) B.J. Berryhill, Enterprise damage control division leading petty officer. "This isn't something we made them do, they did it on their own."
The first event required a five-man team to set up, start, and spray water from a P-100 water pump. In the second event, a search and rescue competition, two men entered a smoke-filled, darkened maze of rooms and corridors to retrieve a life-like mannequin 'victim' in record-breaking time, beating the previous record by 40 seconds. By the halfway point, Enterprise had the lead with first place finishes in two events, and a respectable third place finish in the firefighting ensemble dress-out race.
"We thought going into it that we'd do pretty well," said Lt. Matthias Watkins, Enterprise damage control division officer. "They took it pretty seriously, put a lot of work into it and came out the winners."
Team Enterprise began the second half of the Olympics by breaking another record, this one for the self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) change out relay, a short running race that tested the team members' speed with changing tanks on an SCBA, as well as their ability to move in the equipment. That was followed by a third place score for the Big E team in the pipe-patching competition to see who could plug a pipe rupture with the least amount of leakage.
The final event, the fire attack drill, involved the most teamwork and strategy. While the previous events called for smaller teams to compete, the fire attack required a large fire team. Enterprise was the last team to compete in the event, but emerged with another record-breaking time and another first place win. The final score secured a first-place win overall in the DC Olympics, and sent the team back to Enterprise with a plaque commemorating the victory.
While the mood of the DC Olympics was of competition between ships, there was also a of teamwork and cooperation. Not only were the challenges set up to test the damage control teams' ability to work together, but cooperation between ships was also a factor.
On the surface, the DC Olympics was an event showcasing what each team could do alone, but more importantly it also revealed what all the teams could do together.
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