Cheyenne (SSN-773) is the fourth Pearl Harbor-based
submarine to convert to the SCBA new breathing system. Members
of the crew have welcomed the change.
think SCBAs are wonderful compared to the OBAs,” said
Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Jay Batista of Cheyenne’s
Auxiliary Division. “They are more convenient and compartment-accessible.”
worn on the chest, and that causes problems for submariners
crawling to avoid heat in smoke-filled spaces. They are harder
to put on and more prone to snagging on shipboard objects
than SCBAs. The SCBA’s air cylinders are mounted on
a harness and worn on the back, which improves weight distribution
and maneuverability. In addition, SCBAs have audible and vibrating
are more comfortable to wear and take a lot of weight off
your shoulders. You can maneuver with a fire hose a lot easier,
by using the over the shoulder method,” Batista said.
“Also, the OBA has breathing lungs, so if you put the
hose under your arm you can puncture the lung,” he said.
is the unique part of the SCBA. Instead of running to change
out the oxygen-generating canister on your OBA, which takes
about 15 minutes, you can recharge the SCBA inside a smoke-filled
compartment in less than five,” said Machinist’s
Mate 1st Class Tim Schreyer, the Auxiliary Division’s
leading petty officer.
are 14 units onboard, plus 14 extra cylinders, in case refilling
cannot be accomplished during an emergency.
explained that the SCBA also has another advantage for use
on submarines. “There’s not a lot of space on
the boat, and the SCBAs are more accessible and easier to
store,” he said. According to Batista, it took 11 days
to replace the OBAs because modifications had to be made to
the ship to accommodate the new gear. “It took a while
because we had to change the high-pressure air pipes and put
in recharging stations. We also had to take down all the old
OBA lockers to put in new ones, and we did some welding to
add brackets for the SCBAs,” he noted.
observed that by halfway through the install, the crew had
been trained on how to wear and use the new firefighting gear.
However, the Auxiliary Division had somewhat more to learn.
“We got more training, because we are the ones who will
be responsible for the system. We’re going to be the
ones performing maintenance on the equipment. We have to clean,
disassemble, and repair them. The devices have an eight-year
warranty, and some of the parts have a 15-year warranty,”
said Schreyer. “It’s easier to perform maintenance
on the SCBA, because – unlike the OBA – you don’t
have any moving parts that can break, and you don’t
have to change out any canisters,” he said.
sum it up, it’s convenient and state-of-the art,”
Batista concluded. OBAs have been used for a long time –
well after civilian firefighters began using SCBAs. Finally,
we have them too.”
JO3 Colbert is assigned to COMSUBPAC Public