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    Ready Always: Bonhomme Richard and Civilian Counterparts Integrate for Damage Control Drill



    Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Benjamin Kittleson 

    USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6)




    By MC2 Benjamin K. Kittleson, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs


    San Diego - The crew assigned to the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6), along with the Southwest Regional Maintenance Center (SWRMC) and San Diego Federal Fire personnel, collaborated for an integrated ship and shore force damage control drill, Jan. 31 at Naval Base San Diego.


    When the ship has an emergency at sea, the crew must rely solely on its own efforts to handle the casualty without outside assistance. Everyone on the ship is alerted to the emergency, and damage control, firefighting and medical response teams know what to expect and how to react.


    During a depot-level maintenance availability (DPMA) period, base firefighting and emergency services integrate with the ship's crew to combat the casualty.


    David Mayfield, a contractor fire safety officer with SWRMC Safety, said when the federal emergency services team is called, their primary concern is how they can support the needs of the ship. This not only involves firefighting assistance, but also potentially escorting injured personnel to local medical facilities and providing resources such as breathing apparatuses and medical supplies.


    "There's no grading or judging for this drill," said Mayfield. "There are requirements that need to be met, however, and it is our job to ensure the ship meets those requirements. One of the safety team's primary concerns during these drills is integration. How well do dhipboard personnel communicate and work with civilian and base personnel to safely and effectively respond to the fire and any other emergencies that might arise? Also on the list of requirements is how quickly water can be delivered to the emergency to combat the fire, as well as de-smoking efforts and the team's ability to reduce the heat to prevent additional damage to the ship or its crew."


    Specific training, procedures and terminology are required when planning and executing a firefighting effort on a ship. For civilian firefighters, responding to an emergency aboard a ship is different than a structural fire. Communication is key when Sailors combine with base firefighting and emergency service personnel to combat a casualty.


    "Verbiage is always going to be a challenge," said Mayfield. "In a normal damage control scenario, when a ship is at sea, there is going to be nothing called an 'incident command post' anywhere. But here [during maintenance availability], if we have a fire and we're going to integrate and work together with the fire and emergency services that are arriving, we will establish an incident command post."


    The incident command post (ICP) provides a comprehensive look into the emergency and gives fire team leaders a central location to relay up-to-the-minute status to the command duty officer (CDO).


    Bonhomme Richard's Repair Officer Lt. j.g. Kendrick Allen-Nelson's job is to ensure every detail is considered when information is passed from the scene of the emergency to the people who need to know how to react.


    "At any given time, the command duty officer is doing multiple things," said Allen-Nelson. "So, while he's talking to the firefighters, for instance, I'm more than capable of being there at the charting table, making sure that the plotter is tracking the right movements, and making sure I'm communicating the right information with the [damage control] locker. When the CDO wants to know what's happening. I'll have that information."


    An integrated drill is required for all ships during DPMA and is conducted after a ship has passed the 30-day mark in its maintenance availability period. It is intended to test and enhance the integration between the ship and civilian force.


    "It's about training with the same mindset you'd be using in a real-life situation," said Allen-Nelson. "My guys know that when the emergency is called away, it's time to step it up and fight the ship."


    USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) is currently at its homeport in San Diego.


    For more information about Bonhomme Richard, visit our Facebook page at and on Twitter at





    Date Taken: 01.31.2019
    Date Posted: 02.22.2019 09:49
    Story ID: 310987
    Location: SAN DIEGO, CA, US 

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