Story by Seaman Oscar Quezada
PACIFIC OCEAN – USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) completed its Unit Level Training Assessment – Sustainment (ULTRA S) prior to returning to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, Oct. 6.
ULTRA-S helps ensure John C. Stennis remains mission ready, with the skills needed to carry out a variety of missions.
A team from the Afloat Training Group (ATG) embarked the ship to observe, assess and evaluate Sailors’ shipboard watch standing, war fighting and damage control proficiencies. The drills performed during ULTRA-S help determine the quality of the ship’s ongoing training programs and see how ready the ship really is.
“We want to know that the fleet can trust this particular ship to sustain itself in any kind of casualty,” said Petty Officer First Class Dominic Gamez, from Phoenix, an ATG assessor. “What we are looking for is safety compliance, that all safety procedures are going well and while combating a casualty, how well the motivation is and [to] make sure they meet the particular wickets we are looking for.”
One of the drills used to help determine John C. Stennis’ readiness level is a mass casualty drill. This drill prepares Sailors for worst-case scenarios, such as an aircraft crash-landing on the flight deck resulting in multiple people injured.
“It’s a shipboard drill, so what is getting evaluated is the firefighting capabilities of our flight deck crews, the medical response to the ship’s mass casualty, our response to run elevators to bring casualties to the hanger bay to get triaged and then get reported back down to main medical to save lives,” said Lt. j.g. Donald Schmidt, from Newington, Connecticut, who was overall in charge of the mass casualty drill. “We simulate a worst-case scenario on the flight deck where we have an out of control [fire], over 50 casualties and have aircraft in the way. The reason we have that stuff is to cause enough chaos to see how we can respond putting out the fire, rescue casualties and get the deck ready to recover aircraft.”
Another training tool used during the underway were general quarters (GQ) drills.
The GQ drills are scenario-based evolutions in which Sailors rapidly report to damage control repair lockers, prepare the ship for imminent damage by closing hatches and fittings to maximize ship survivability, and then seek out and respond to simulated casualties including fire, flooding and structural damage.
“We are required to be certified by the Afloat Training Group to be able to [respond] within a certain amount of time,” said Senior Chief Thomas B. Funderbeurk, from Hinesville, Georgia, a member of the damage control training team. “Think of it as a recertification. The evaluators are looking at the damage control team’s ability to identify areas that need improvement on our fire fighting methods.”
GQs also have a medical training component involved. Sailors are evaluated on how to deal with different injuries and report the injuries to the medical department of the ship.
“Knowing the basics of first aid and injury treatment will better serve [Sailors] when there is an actual injury in a workspace and [medical] is not readily available to respond,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Jose A. Jimenez, from El Baño, California, the medical training coordinator.
At the end of ULTRA-S, John C. Stennis was deemed overall proficient and prepared to conduct future tasking.