LISBON, Portugal (NNS) -- Sailors aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Bulkeley (DDG 84) participated in a disaster training exercise (DISTEX) at a Portuguese Navy training facility in Lisbon, Portugal, July 1, simulating first response efforts after a natural disaster.
Bulkeley visited the Portuguese Naval Technology School (ETNA), a humanitarian assistance and damage control (HADR) training facility, while the ship was on a port visit to city.
During the exercise, Sailors worked to repair the water distribution system and electric system, fight 11 fires, control a toxic gas leak, stabilize six structurally damaged buildings, conduct urban search and rescue (USAR), treat and aid 25 injured survivors, maintain security boundaries and properly respond to the media.
"I was very excited for this exercise," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class Yoel Mejiadiaz. "It was very cool; an interactive training. We got to train with the Portuguese Navy, and they made it seem so realistic."
This is the first time a U.S. Navy ship has participated in this training.
"The purpose of this DISTEX is to test the abilities of a ship and its crew," said Cmdr. Luis Ribeiro Da Silva, the Portuguese DISTEX Coordinator. "We always try to make it feel as real as we can."
The exercise took place in a damage control training site at ETNA known as 'ELA Village.' The scenario involved an earthquake that rocked 'Nicelenia,' a fictional country, with Bulkeley Sailors as the first humanitarian disaster relief team on scene.
"Disaster response and humanitarian relief is a critical mission as many recent world events have proven," said Cmdr. Matthew Phillips, executive officer aboard Bulkeley charged with running the exercise's command and control. "This Portuguese training site provided a comprehensive and unique training opportunity. Many of our shipboard skills such as first aid, firefighting, pipe patching, shoring and electrical restoration carried over directly to the events in the exercise."
The first obstacles Bulkeley Sailors faced were small fires, a river in which they had to build a bridge to cross, injured locals on the top of a steep hill and wrecked cars.
They were then able to go into ELA Village to inspect, help and support the local community.
There were more wrecked vehicles, injured locals, large oil and fuel fires, survivors stuck in unstable buildings and large leaks in a potable water main and a firemain.
According to Portuguese Naval damage control instructors, minimizing the damage, impact, and injury to the survivors was the first priority for Bulkeley's team, which was exactly what they looked for.
"A lot of response efforts are common sense, but in an international crisis it is very hard to focus on the priorities and not get overwhelmed," said Ship's Serviceman 3rd Class Joseph Kotalik, a member of Bulkeley's USAR team. "The one thing that never changes and you never forget is that saving lives is number one, people are always the most important."
The medical team cared for a wide range of injuries.
"A very notable point was this crew's care and compassion," said Ribeiro Da Silva. "They took great care of the survivors and everyone helped with that."
"This was a great opportunity for joint training," said Kotalik. "We were able to learn to do things the way that the Portuguese have been doing them for years. They have a great facility and an awesome experience."
According to members of the Portuguese Navy, Bulkeley Sailors showed a great amount of eagerness, endurance and effort.
"This ship's company had such outstanding enthusiasm for this," said Ribeiro Da Silva. "It was almost like every time they finished with a task they jumped to look for the next thing. Even when we were done, they looked for more emergencies to handle."
Enterprise Carrier Strike Group consists of aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65), guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), guided-missile destroyers Bulkeley, USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mason (DDG 87), fast combat support ship USNS Arctic (T-AOE), Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.
For more information regarding Bulkeley's deployment log onto www.navy.mil/local/ddg84.
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.