USS Bonhomme Richard aces unit-level training

U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) completed its unit-level training in record time and returned to Sasebo, Japan,on February 13.

“Out at sea, ship’s readiness and operability are the responsibility of all hands,” said Capt. Jeffrey Ward, USS Bonhomme Richard, commanding officer. “During this short underway, our sailors have completed monumental tasks ranging from engineering and firefighting drills to flight deck certifications. I am immensely proud of each and every sailor aboard and the job that they do.”

The ship’s damage controlmen (DC) conducted DC university courses, training and qualifying sailors on board in basic and advanced firefighting techniques, in addition to undergoing daily drills. Air department kept busy making sure that BHR’s flight deck is maintained in top quality conditions for the Harriers of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 311 “Tomcats” and MH-60S Sea Hawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25, while high above the flight deck, navigation department certified in ship’s navigation, and Security paired up with Weapons department to conduct daily small arms training and qualifications during day and low-light shooting evolutions, qualifying approximately 150 sailors.

In the midst of unit-level training throughout the ship, engineering department maintained the busiest schedule of all, completing more than 240 evolutions and more than 80 drills within a two week period, said Senior Chief Electrician’s Mate Neil Guan, ATG senior team leader.

Each evolution and drill was monitored and assessed by ATG members, who provided feedback and instruction on corrective actions if necessary. Additionally, daily safe-to-operate walkthroughs were conducted to ensure that the areas were safe to train in.

“We started this float with two inexperienced watch teams for engineering spaces, 11 people per team, and for some of them it was their first watch,” said Machinist’s Mate 1st Class Francisco Ceja. “We went from zero-experience watchstanders, not being able to pass one evolution or drill, to meeting the numbers required by ATG in two weeks. Stateside, ships get five to six months to train in order to certify. We did it in two weeks.”