Crash and Salvage Team from USS Bataan to Complete Revised Refresher Training First
A flight deck crash and salvage team from amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) completed refresher training at Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Aug. 24.
During their week at the training center, team members received hands-on training in fighting flight deck fires, proper crash and salvage procedures, and safely lifting and moving damaged aircraft using a crane.
Bataan’s crash and salvage team came to NATTC, on board Naval Air Station Pensacola, for the specialized training to bring new members up to speed and to refresh veteran members’ skills.
In addition, Bataan’s team was the first to go through the crash and salvage team training course following recent revisions.
“The hands on training we get at NATTC is a quintessential element to being ready for our next deployment,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Sheldon Popo, Bataan’s Crash and Salvage Team leading petty officer. “Since the last time we were down here, we have swapped out more than 60 percent of the Crash and Salvage team personnel. The new team members have never done crash and salvage work, and all need the hands on experience they get here. On the ship we can’t practice firefighting with live fire on actual aircraft, or crash procedures on actual aircraft, but here we can. NATTC’s training and equipment will help our team be ready for an actual crash.”
Popo was a part of the team last time they came to Pensacola, and he said the recent changes to the course have greatly increased its value.
“We can now go inside the burning aircraft, and move the aircraft that apply to us on a big deck amphibious assault ship,” he said. “These improvements make this training even more realistic.”
The added level of realism was one of the reasons the course was changed. Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Geoffrey Wyatt, NATTC’s Shipboard Crash and Salvage Course Leading Chief Petty Officer, explained that the fleet provided feedback on ways to improve the realism of the training.
“The changes requested by the fleet were easy to safely implement, and we were able to quickly update the course and make it more realistic. The goal of the course is to make the experience as close as possible to what a crash and salvage crew will actually do in an emergency.
“Now when we train with the Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Training Device (MAFTD), we have them use the A/S 32 P-25 firefighting vehicle to clear a path through the fire to the aircraft door. The team then proceeds inside of the smoke filled MAFTD, retrieves ‘Rescue Randy,’ the simulated crewman, and then egress the aircraft,” said Wyatt.
Another element added to the training allows the team to continue through the MAFTD using a Naval Firefighting Thermal Imager (NFTI) to locate any remaining hot spots that need to be extinguished and cooled.
“All of these changes make the training more realistic, and place the tasks in the order that the teams will have to conduct them during an actual emergency in the fleet,” Wyatt said. “We have reduced the amount of classroom training and increased the amount of hands on lab training. All of this hands on training is conducted in a safe and controlled environment under the supervision of our crash and salvage subject matter experts, who have returned from the fleet to instruct at NATTC.”
Since its commissioning in 1942, NATTC has been committed to delivering training and increasing readiness within the Naval Aviation Enterprise. NATTC graduates approximately 15,000 Navy and Marine students annually. The majority of the student population is made up of enlisted personnel attending “A” schools, where they are learning the skills and knowledge required to perform as apprentice level technicians in the fleet. The center also provides airman apprenticeship training, personal financial management, and shipboard aircraft firefighting training. Advanced schools provide higher level technical knowledge for senior petty officers, and technical training for officers in aviation fuels, carrier air traffic control center operations, amphibious air traffic control center operations, aircraft launch and recovery equipment, and shipboard aircraft fire fighting.
Additionally, NATTC supports the fleet by providing team training to ships personnel during their pre-deployment work-ups, to ensure that shipboard personnel have the proficiency required to take their ship on deployment, after a prolonged period in port.
Press Release, August 27, 2013; Image: Navy