USNS Walter S. Diehl crew prepares for return to sea

The crew of the Military Sealift Command’s (MSC) fleet replenishment oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO 193) started preparing for the ships return to sea following a regular overhaul (ROH) period.

Sailors conducted shipboard training on August 8 in the Singaporean Sembawang Shipyard where the overhaul was performed.

A ROH is a demanding period for any ship and especially for the mariners who crew it, because this is the opportunity to perform required maintenance, repair, refurbishment, inspections, etc. In addition, many of the crew rotates to other ships that need their skills or rotate ashore for earned leave or required training, so that upon completion of the ROH some of the crew on board will be new faces to those who remained.

The shipboard training on the Diehl was the standard package and focused on team responses in firefighting, equipment casualties, damage control, medical casualty response, and chemical, biological, and radiological defense (CBR-D). Drills in main space and zone fires, collision and flooding, CBR-D, abandon ship were also conducted and focused on team responses.

MSC’s afloat training team (ATT) was tasked with the support mission to provide quality shipboard training to assist a ship’s master in attaining mission readiness. A four-person section from ATT’s west coast team from San Diego came aboard the Diehl to conduct the training package.

“There are four things that can initiate an ATT (training event),” said Anton Clemens, team leader, ATT-West. “If the ship has been in the yard and they have more than 50 percent turnover, then you have an ATT. Training is also conducted on a two year cycle, so ATT training is usually scheduled on ships every 18 months; additionally, ATT training can occur if the captain requests one, or if the command directs one.”

A standard package for ATT includes fire drills for each zone, abandon ship drill, a man overboard drill, CBR-D training, aviation flight deck safety awareness and damage control round-robin training—those are the big drill packages.

One of the training events, referred to as the “round robin”, involved four stations spread throughout the main deck, which rotated teams through the stations while the ATT members demonstrated and discussed various pieces of damage-control equipment and procedures.

One station featured the Portable Exothermic Cutting Unit, where crew cut pieces of steel in varying sizes of shapes. In another station, an ATT instructor demonstrated different types of medical litters and the applications, such as the medevac-in-water litter and the extrication chair.

The other stations in the round robin were a dewatering station on the flight deck, which involved moving water and operating various pumps to mitigate flooding; and a shoring station, demonstrating mechanical shoring and wood-type shoring and the different applications of shoring for structural purposes, or for containing patches in place during flooding, pipe hatch review, and various methods of dealing with ruptured tanks.

MSC operates approximately 115 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.