A flight deck crash and salvage team from amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) completed refresher training at Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC) Nov. 9.
During their week at the training center, team members received hands-on training in fighting flight deck fires, proper crash and salvage procedures, and safely lifting and moving damaged aircraft using a crane. Iwo Jima’s crash and salvage team came to NATTC, on board Naval Air Station Pensacola, for the specialized training to bring new members up to speed and to refresh veteran members’ skills.
This was Iwo Jima’s first opportunity to go through the crash and salvage team training course following recent revisions. Post course critiques, conducted by Iwo Jima team members in the past were part of the impetus to update the course, and this was an opportunity for those team members to see first-hand how their suggestions had changed the course.
One of the first changes that impressed Iwo Jima Air Boatswain, Chief Warrant Officer Frank Jusino, was how much of the training was shifted from the class room, to the lab.
“I like how these changes have cut out some of the classroom time and get our team right into the hands-on portion,” he said. Jusino was also looking forward to the opportunity for his team to practice lifting and moving NATTC’s inventory of ‘duds’, or stricken aircraft.
“The opportunity to move around the ‘duds’ during the salvage training, and do it safely ‘by the book’, is part of what makes this training so valuable to my team,” Jusino said. “There just aren’t enough ‘duds’ up in Norfolk for us to regularly practice aircraft salvage lifts, so this training is a very important part of getting my team ready for flight deck emergencies.”
Jusino explained that the Iwo Jima team was conducting this training because they had turned over approximately 80 percent of their personnel.
“This team is extremely green, and this training will set them all up on a straight path in regards to their procedures and techniques,” he explained. “We also brought this team down here because we will get the best investment out of this. Most of these new Sailors will be on our team for up to five years, and bringing them here to train at this point means we can use this training experience as long as possible.”
Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Logan Wyatt was one of the few members of the team who had been through the course before the revisions and appreciated the changes made to the course. Wyatt also liked the decreased classroom instruction, and the increase in hands-on instruction.
“I think the firefighting training is very important for our team,” Wyatt said. “We can’t practice fighting real fires like this on the ship, and being able to do this brings us closer together as a team, makes us more knowledgeable, and helps us depend more on our team mates.”
The Crash and Salvage Team training course was revised to increase the level of realism at the request of the fleet. NATTC’s Shipboard Crash and Salvage Course Leading Chief Petty Officer, Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) Geoffrey Wyatt, explained that the critiques provided by the Iwo Jima team after a previous visit provided some of the feedback which was used to improve the realism of the training.
“This is their first time through the revised course,” Wyatt said. “They can now see their suggestions in action as they train with the Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Training Device (MAFTD). They use the A/S 32 P-25 firefighting vehicle to clear a path through the fire to the aircraft door. The team proceeds inside of the smoke filled MAFTD, retrieves “Rescue Randy,” the simulated crewman, and egress the aircraft.”
Another element added to the training allows the team to practice overhauling the fire using a Thermal Imaging Camera (TIC) to locate any remaining hot spots that need to be extinguished and cooled. In addition, reflash scenarios have been incorporated, where the fire starts back up after being extinguished.
“These changes, based off fleet recommendations, make the training more realistic. We conduct this realistic, high-risk training in a safe and controlled environment under the supervision of our crash and salvage subject matter experts, who have returned from the fleet to instruct at NATTC,” Wyatt said.
Since its commissioning in 1942, NATTC has been committed to delivering training and increasing readiness within the Naval Aviation Enterprise. NATTC graduates approximately 15,000 Navy and Marine students annually. The majority of the student population is made up of enlisted personnel attending “A” schools, where they are learning the skills and knowledge required to perform as apprentice level technicians in the fleet. The center also provides airman apprenticeship training, personal financial management, and shipboard aircraft firefighting training.
Additionally, NATTC supports the fleet by providing team training to ships personnel during their pre-deployment work-ups, to ensure that shipboard personnel have the proficiency required to take their ship on deployment, after a prolonged period in port.
Press Release, November 11, 2013; Image: Navy