USS Carl Vinson Hosts DC Olympics

USS Carl Vinson Hosts DC Olympics

Sailors aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) participated in DC Olympics – a practical training competition between the ship’s 10 repair lockers, Air Department’s crash and salvage team, and its hangar bay firefighting team – during underway operations, March 16.

Events ranging from hose-handling and phone talking, to dewatering and shoring, measured Sailors’ damage control (DC) knowledge and skill.

“The DC Olympics gives the repair lockers a chance to display what they’ve learned over the course of our training cycle and through the deployment,” said Chief Damage Controlman (SW/AW) Matthew Brenner, Engineering Department DC Division’s leading chief petty officer.

“It promotes teamwork and competitive camaraderie between the repair lockers themselves and it’s a good break from the routine of normal general quarters (GQ).”

Brenner said in addition to assessing overall knowledge gained from qualifications and GQ training, DC Olympics’ events go beyond normal training to factor in speed and efficiency by timing the events and penalizing teams for any infractions.

“We’re able to do things we aren’t able to do at GQ, like charge hoses and discharge from the nozzle and give everyone a chance to handle the hose,” Brenner said.

“It’s better than GQ training, I think,” said Yeoman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Adam Mostafa, assigned to Intel Department’s OS01 Division and a Repair Locker 7B investigator. “GQ training is good, but more of a routine. There are certain events you don’t get to do during GQ, like pushing the AFFF (aqueous film-forming foam) tank with a charged hose, and the CBR (chemical, biological and radiological) dress-out. DC Olympics gives everybody motivation, like pride in your repair locker. And with the events, everyone has a competitive spirit. It’s actually really fun; I wish we could do it more often.”

“That’s the big issue right there,” said Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Michael Villarreal, leading petty officer of Engineering Department’s R-1 Division and member of Repair 3, this year’s DC Olympic winners.

In general quarters, everything is simulated – and you can simulate only so far. The best training is the real-scene scenario – actually being able to use the equipment – because of the differences. Picking up a PeriJet eductor that’s not in use – it doesn’t weigh anything. When you have a PeriJet with a fully-charged 2 1/2 -inch hose and a 4-inch hose attached to it, it’s really heavy,” he said. “A fully charged hose compared to a hose that you’re just flaking out – the weight itself is different and controlling it is different. It was good to actually put it to use.”

One of the most popular events was the hose team relay, in which a four-person team dresses out in firefighting ensembles (FFE) and races across the flight deck carrying a rolled-up hose.

“I’m on the firefighting hose team and I live for that kind of stuff,” said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Clarence Thompkins, assigned to Combat Systems Department’s CS3 Division, and a Repair 7B member. “I like the adrenaline you get. Yeah, we were tired, but once we went to that next event, I had a new burst of energy.”

“We see the guys put on their FFEs every GQ, but to see them put it on and run across the flight deck carrying the hose was great,” Villarreal added.

DC Olympics is a competition, Brenner said, and that raises the level of training.

“Everybody’s pretty motivated and pumped up going through the events,” he said. “Everybody wants to be the best at what we’re doing here, so it brings out a lot of competitive spirit.”

“I think it’s great that they put an actual competition in place for DC,” Villarreal said. “It only makes you push harder and want to do better. All hands get to do it; everybody’s there to help out, which is good. I’ll take away the team camaraderie and locker unity. The locker is a tight-knit unit; we gel over there.”

“My favorite part is the camaraderie,” Thompkins said. “I don’t really feel that too much just doing day-to-day stuff , but once GQ hits or DC Olympics starts, it’s like we’re family and it feels great.”
The cross-training DC Olympics provides and the full locker participation it promotes generates unique and lasting training, Mostafa said.

“The training is the best takeaway,” Mostafa said. “It makes you do stuff that you know, but don’t do often, like pipe patching. We all know how to do it, but we obviously don’t always get a chance to do it. It forces you to remember. You make mistakes, but it comes back to you and reaffirms how important it is and motivates you to step up your game and knowledge.”

“This time, we had to do everything,” Thompkins said. “The only thing I really knew how to do was put on an SCBA (self-contained breathing apparatus) and be on the hose team. That’s it. But I learned all of it in a short span of time.”

Repair 3 team was crowned as repeat champions.

It’s a great training tool because, with nobody prompting them along, they have to apply the stuff that’s been taught and actually do it without anybody assisting them,” Brenner said. “It’s a little bit of ingenuity that they have to come up with to get through some of this stuff.”

It reminds you to be ready,” Thompkins said. “You can’t have a fire and have no one know what to do. You want that mental readiness that you are going to go ahead and put this fire out and save the ship. Saving lives and saving the ship – those are our number one priorities.”

Carl Vinson and embarked Carrier Air Wing 17 are conducting maritime theater security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Training evolutions like DC Olympics are key elements of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.

Naval Today Staff , March 22, 2012; Image: navy