The Office of Naval Research together with the Uniformed Services University’s department of preventive medicine and biometrics began using the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) July 15 as a test platform to study the effects of 24 hour noise exposure on Sailors.
The study will span two years and will measure the noise exposure of Sailors attached to aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships while on deployment and in the shipyards.
According to Cmdr. Michael Stevens, assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University, the goal of the study is to accurately identify the amount of harmful noise Sailors are exposed to in different environments.
“We are trying to get better data to help fight hearing loss,” said Cmdr. Jennifer Rous, assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University. “Hearing loss costs the Department of Defense billions each year.”
Lincoln will be able to use the information gathered to improve working conditions, according to the ships assistant safety officer Lt. John Engel.
“The Safety Department is going to be able to use this information to raise the level of safety on the ship,” said Engel. “We will be able to better tailor the level of personal protection equipment worn to individual tasks and environments to better protect our Sailors, along with increasing the effectiveness of our training program.”
The research team aboard Lincoln is using a new device to measure noise in decibels and record it for analysis.
“The device has three microphones,” said Stevens. “One microphone records the ambient noise in the area of the Sailor; the other two microphones are inside foam earplugs and measure the noise that makes it past the hearing protection used by the Sailor.”
Measuring the amount of ambient noise on the ship and the amount of noise in the Sailor’s ears not only lets the researchers know how noisy an area is, but how effective the protection being worn is.
“The ultimate goal of our research is to identify specific tasks that are always loud so we can work with ship designers to build quieter ships,” said Rous.
Press Release, July 26, 2013