Drills bear fruit as Eisenhower sailors douse onboard fire – Daily Press

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PORTSMOUTH — Near the end of his propulsion electrician shift on April 7 and midway through his last hourly patrol of his inspection route, Electrician Mate Nuclear 2nd Class Lucas Leosewski smelled the odor.

Sharp, acrid – an electric fire on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.

“You could tell immediately what it was,” he said. “I followed my nose and it led me to a transformer that was spewing smoke” the next bridge.

“I didn’t panic. But yes, the adrenaline started right away. But I knew what I had to do. I knew who I had to tell and I did.

And so triggered the response to one of the biggest worries of any sailor, especially on a ship like the Eisenhower which is in the shipyard for maintenance and repairs.

Leosewski ran to the nearest comms handset to call the fire. He rattled off his report, according to the book: Fire. Electric. White smoke, deck and space number.

Then he started the sprint, halfway along the 1,090-foot length of the transporter, to the control center where he was able to cut power to that part of the electrical system.

“We drill on this all the time; load center drill every week I’ve been on the ship,” Leosewski said. “Three years, every week.”

This time, shipmate John Hart, a Nuclear Electrician 3rd Class Journeyman, was closer to the load center.

“I was able to shut down Load Center 11 immediately,” Hart said. “I know Leosewski would come running back to put it out himself, but I reported I was in the area and put it out. This is why we do so many exercises. We have practiced this countless times.

At the same time, aviator Djenane Angrand was descending the tunnel between an aircraft maintenance department space and the hangar deck, where she was due to take part in a routine fire drill when she spotted the smoke.

“I was confused at first,” she said. “I looked closer and realized there was a fire, and I was a little nervous. I went back to the hangar where the service section was training for a fire drill and I reported it.

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Within a minute, the alert was sounding throughout the ship, and the port emergency team was rushing to the transformer Leosewski had identified.

Hart killed the heat source that started the fire, but the fire crew had to make sure the overheated wires hadn’t ignited anything else.

The risk of fire increases when a ship is in the yard. There is a lot of “hot work” — welding and metal cutting — and fewer sailors on duty. Firefighting equipment is not always in its usual space either. Typically, sailors on board begin a spell in the yard on high alert, but halfway through an uneventful 13-month stay at the shipyard, the Eisenhower’s sailors were not not become complacent.

“When a piece of equipment fails, as in this incident, or some other prevention process fails, we depend on sailors to recognize the victim and assemble the service section to attack and overwhelm them,” said Captain Paul Campagna, the Eisenhower’s commanding officer. officer. “That’s what those sailors did.”

He presented them with Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals – and Rear Admiral John F. Meier, Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic, came to personally thank them.

“We spend all of our time and energy trying to prevent fires. The key to this is the veracity of our response, the immediacy of detecting something like this makes all the difference in the world,” Meier said.

Dave Ress, 757-247-4535, [email protected]

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