Story by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Frost

BREMERTON, Wash. – An aircraft carrier flight deck is one of the most hazardous working environments in the world. It is a small city of organized chaos with aircraft constantly in motion.

Safety is paramount and if something goes wrong, Stennis’ crash and salvage division will be ready to respond.

Crash and salvage is responsible for damage control on the flight deck. They train rigorously to fight fires and rescue personnel in the case of an aircraft casualty, and one tool the division uses to enhance their training is a decommissioned F/A-18 Hornet called the “Dud.”

“The dud is a more realistic way for us to simulate doing our job and go through damage control phases,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Korinne Reese, from Woodland, Calif.

The three damage control phases that crash conducts not only save lives, but also ensures aircraft remain serviceable. Phase one is rescuing personnel and fighting fires. Phase two is moving the aircraft away from the landing area with tractors if the aircraft can be towed. Phase three is using the flight deck crane, known as Tilly, to move the aircraft if the aircraft cannot be towed.

“It’s important to have a well-trained crew to respond to possible casualties,” said Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Travis Beach, from Redway, Calif. “One error during launch or recovery can lead to disaster so we have to prepare for the worst,”

Crash and salvage fulfills an important role to the safety and operability of the flight deck. Diligent training has prepared them to save lives when dangerous situations arise.

Stennis is completing a DPIA maintenance period at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

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