PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Thirty-three USS George Washington (CVN 73) Sailors completed a Security Reaction Force Basic (SRFB) course aboard the ship, April 7.
The three-week course trains Sailors to work in the Security department and is mandatory for all USS George Washington E-6 and below Sailors.
The course includes classroom instruction and hands-on training in anti-terrorism/force protection followed by a final challenge of fighting their way through a gauntlet of obstacles, barriers and attackers after receiving pepper spray directly into the eyes.
"The Oleoresin Capsicum spray is liquid pain, but it's imperative these Sailors undergo a direct spraying to pass and complete the SRFB course," said Chief Master-at-Arms (EXW) Darren Price, SRFB instructor. "The commanding officer requested all George Washington Sailors E-6 and below participate and obtain their qualification, so having the students do this in front of the crew really helps put the crew at ease; especially since they'll be next."
Hundreds showed up in the ship's hangar bay for the opportunity to watch their friends and co-workers get sprayed with highly concentrated pepper spray and to cheer them on as the 33 students fought their way through the gauntlet.
"I've participated in this course once before and watched many of them before too," said Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class Kaylie Gordon from King's Bay, Ga. "This group was the most prepared I've ever seen. They had a motivator always by their side to help guide them through the stations and ensure they would be able to complete the course."
Inside the 50-foot, cone-lined ring, Sailors were required to complete various tasks at multiple stations. Some of the tasks required Sailors to take down an adversary, perform forward-reverse strikes with a baton, demonstrate defensive blocking techniques and the ability to retain a weapon while fighting against a mock attacker in a red, padded suit.
"It's good to see what I have to go through in the near future," said Aviation Ordnanceman Desiree Brown from Milwaukee. "I do feel safer knowing everyone has to go through this. It'll make sure someone thinks twice before reaching for the pepper spray bottle."
While being pepper sprayed is something many of the students may never forget, they have also learned a number of important lessons throughout the course. The training in basic law enforcement, security watch standing and weapons proficiency means they are trained and can help ensure everyone is safer.
With the SRFB course over, the Sailors will return to their original departments and will remain on standby until recalled. Recalled Sailors will work in Security for a period of six to twelve months where they will help the ship's Master-at-Arms maintain a safe ship.
George Washington has been underway since March 21, departing her forward-deployed homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, in response to the disaster that struck Japan, March 11.
George Washington is the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, ensuring security and stability across the western Pacific Ocean.
For more news from USS George Washington (CVN 73), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn73/.