PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to USS George Washington's (CVN 73) (GW) Operations Department's ON division put their nerves to the test July 20 during an exercise marking the final stage in a three-week series of security training.
Sailors were required to complete a five-station course pitting them against some of the worst possible scenarios they may face after being sprayed with Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), more commonly known as pepper spray.
An inflammatory agent, OC spray causes the immediate closing of the eyes, breathing difficulty, tears, temporary blindness and immense pain. The effects of the spray typically last for approximately 30 to 45 minutes after initial contact.
During the evolution held at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard recreational grounds, Sailors struggled to keep their composure, by fighting through the suffering caused by the immediate reaction to the pepper spray. Before receiving treatment to relieve them of the effects of the spray, each Sailor completed five required obstacles under the close supervision of Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class (AW/SW) Pete Ingram, GW's non-lethal weapons instructor.
"Security personnel need to complete this training so they can react confidently in a situation where they could be accidentally sprayed," Ingram said. "If they've never experienced the shock of being sprayed, then it's possible that they wouldn't have the confidence necessary to fight through the pain and do their job. If they quit during the testing they're not qualified to use OC spray."
"Automatically, the first thing you want to do is slam your eyes shut [after being sprayed]," Ingram said. "As I follow them around the course I'm always telling them to blink their eyes and keep moving. This makes their eyes water and flushes the pepper spray out so they can see."
During the exercise, Sailors were required to apprehend a non-compliant subject, complete the take down and apprehension of that subject, and to use a baton in single and multiple opponent situations with aggressive and defensive measures. While performing the apprehension, the security personnel were also required to be able to speak and order their subject to comply.
"I feel a lot more confident now having completed the course. Should the situation arise where I come in contact with [OC], I'll still be able to do my job well," said Aviation Ordnanceman 3rd Class Jennifer Johnson. "It was intense, but as difficult as it was, I'm still happy to be a part of GW security."
More than 20 Sailors completed the day's course and qualified to use OC spray. The techniques they learned, part of their training involving non-lethal weapons and the use of force continuum, prepared them for possible future apprehensions they may be called upon to make.
For more news from USS George Washington, visit www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.