One of the most dangerous circumstances for a ship at sea is fire. Hundreds of kilometers from the mainland, there is no fire department to call in the event of a disaster. This is why it is the duty of every Sailor to understand the importance of damage control on board warships.
“We have accidents,” said Artin Abramian, Damage Control Officer 2nd Class, a member of the Fast-Sea Fire Response Team aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2 ), “and if the ship ever suffers losses., that could be the number one loss of people. Our job as damage control officers is to get everyone home safely.”
Without the luxury of external response teams, the ship’s personnel must be able to rely on each other for the worst-case scenario. It becomes the responsibility of each seafarer to learn how to manage and combat incidents. Damage controllers are not only the first responders, but also the trainers of these scenarios.
“We are training the whole ship,” said Abramian. “If something happens to us, who else is going to save the ship?” You are. The only way to save the ship, and everyone’s lives, is for every sailor to have the ability and knowledge to do their job as a damage controller and use what they have learned to stop the victim.
Abramian believes sailors can become a damage controller by observing lessons learned from losses on previous ships like the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6). On July 12, 2020, a fire ignited the Bonhomme Richard for more than four days and damaged the ship beyond repair.
“We want every junior sailor to understand the importance of damage control,” said Abramian. “We train for the worst case scenario, and it’s important that everyone participates and learns from their mistakes during the exercises. That way, when the worst happens, we don’t make the same mistakes.
Every sailor is a firefighter. They must watch over their siblings and rely on their training to combat the losses that arise. For this reason, Abramian is delighted to see the sailors on board grow in their knowledge of damage control.
Past incidents, such as the Bonhomme Richard, are a constant reminder of the disaster and reinforce the standards for sailors to be “always ready” and never to abandon ship.
“We want every junior sailor to understand the importance of damage control and not repeat history,” said Abramian. “The sailors who show up for the tests every week are encouraging for me. Not only do they qualify, but they take it seriously as to what they will qualify into by qualifying.
Essex and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific across the Western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.
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