Recruits Prepare Using Updated Virtual Computer-based Training

Story Number: NNS101018-12Release Date: 10/18/2010 3:25:00 PM
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By Scott A. Thornbloom, Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Recruit Training Command (RTC) recruits have been using video computer gaming as a training tool to prepare them to navigate around a ship, stop compartment flooding and fight fires.

Virtual Environments for Ship and Shore Experiential Learning (VESSEL) is the game-based training system that all recruits train with at RTC. VESSEL has undergone its first update since being introduced in 2008. Specifically, it's an addition of a fire fighting scenario to the compartment flooding scenario.

"We've had several significant updates since VESSEL has come online," said John Drake, director of Learning Strategies (N9) at Naval Service Training Command.
"VESSEL has been deployed to all barracks classrooms at boot camp. We have increased the number of missions from three to six. And most importantly, as we've increased the number of missions, we've added another session for the recruits to train on VESSEL, increasing to two total sessions, before the recruits participate in Battle Stations."

Battle Stations is 12 hours and 17 scenarios of general quarter drills that include fire fighting, compartment flooding, watch standing, supply onload and offload, line handling and mass casualty evacuations. It is all held on board USS Trayer (BST 21), the 210-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class mock destroyer and largest current training simulator in the Navy.

The initial objective of VESSEL is to prepare recruits to better handle and complete Battle Stations, the final test recruits need to accomplish before graduating from RTC.

"Our goal is to have a basic and intermediate version of each of the three skills that we are focusing on in this program," said Drake. "The first is flood control. The second is fire fighting. The last one, which is in development, will be first aid and responding to a mass casualty situation."

"I feel VESSEL is really helping and preparing us for life in the fleet," said Seaman Recruit Matthew Jameson Estes from Medford, Ore. "It's helped a lot of us become better at reading bull's-eyes (compartment numbering system) on ship, put out fires and knowing what to do for damage control."

Seaman Recruit David Thomas from Myrtle Beach, S.C., said the first time he trained on VESSEL it helped him during actual fire fighting conditions the next day at USS Chief, the fire fighting trainer at RTC.

"I had just used VESSEL the day before we were scheduled to go through the fire fighting trainer," Thomas said. "In VESSEL's fire fighting scenario, you hold the nozzle and have to know how to open and close it and how to apply the spray on the fire. The next day I was the nozzleman and everything I learned on VESSEL was what I did at the trainer."

Since 2008, a Performance Impact Study of recruits who have trained on VESSEL and then applied what they had learned at Battle Stations have had an 80 percent reduction in critical errors, a 75 percent improvement in communications and a 24 percent improvement in situation awareness.

For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit

A recruit trains on the Virtual Environments for Ship and Shore Experiential Learning system at Recruit Training Command.
Official U.S. Navy file photo of The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer simulator USS Trayer (BST 21), prepares recruits to fight a compartment fire. The firefighting exercise is part of Battle Stations 21 aboard Trayer and the culmination of basic training for Navy recruits at Recruit Training Command. Battle Stations 21 is a 12-hour evolution with 17 scenarios to test a recruit's skills in shipboard emergencies, including fighting fires and stopping floods. (U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released)
October 19, 2010
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