USS LEYTE GULF, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors that have recently joined guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) received damage control training May 14, while underway in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
Damage controlmen assigned to the engineering department's R-division are conducting a 'damage control college' in which new Sailors go through a combination of classroom training and hands-on applications in order to successfully complete their basic damage control personnel qualifications.
This innovative idea breaks from traditional methods of basic damage control training by incorporating practical applications through which Sailors are able to handle charged fire hoses, don full fire fighting equipment, repair cracks in pressurized pipes and practice implementing techniques learned while in the classroom.
"There are many advantages to hands-on training," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Bill Zhang, damage control trainer. "The situational and physical stress related to combating a ship casualty cannot be replicated just in a classroom, but must be felt by actually getting your hands dirty during training and drills. Hands-on training and repetitive drilling also sharpen unused skills and increase crew confidence."
"Training this way is beneficial because if a casualty does occur, the crew will be able to fall back on their training and handle the situation quickly and effectively," Zhang continued.
Quick and effective response is paramount in an emergency and can mean the difference between life and death. The training is focused on the crew's ability to respond in a timely manner with the appropriate level of action.
"It's extremely important for everyone aboard to be trained in damage control," said Damage Controlman Fireman Sherrie Brown, damage control trainer. "On deployment you never know what can happen. With the hands-on training Sailors get acquainted with proper techniques for handling hoses, pipe patching and how to don their equipment. We have contests to see who can dress out the quickest because every second matters."
The mixture of classroom training and hands-on implementation of that training allows for innovative reinforcement and keeps the Sailors involved in the training engaged while learning.
"This is the best damage control training I've had," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Kevin Young, damage control trainee. "I've learned about the equipment before but I've never actually been able to use it until now. It was actually very fun."
The class draws from the experience and training techniques of the ship's at-sea fire party and was designed to be fun, effective and easily understood.
"We give them a basis with PowerPoint slides and lectures," said Damage Controlman 2nd Class Sean Danaher, damage control trainer. "A lot of the things that we do aboard a ship to fight casualties isn't easy to apply just from PowerPoints. Getting hands on the gear and doing mock-ups really enforces muscle memory and aides them in retaining the classroom information."
At the conclusion of the five-day class, Sailors take a written test and upon completion gain qualification in Basic Damage Control Personnel Qualification Standards 301-306.
Leyte Gulf is deployed as part of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) in support of maritime security operations efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.