SOUTH CHINA SEA - Sailors aboard the mine countermeasure ship USS Avenger (MCM 1) passed a difficult test of their seamanship skills during a drill May 4.
The drill tested the ability of Avenger Sailors to regain control of the ship after a simulated loss of steering. The drill was also used as a training opportunity for the bridge crew.
After the warning lights went off, the crew was alerted of the situation by the boatswain's mate of the watch, Mineman 3rd Class Mario Viera, as he called out, " Engineering Casualty, Engineering Casualty, Loss of steering, man Aft Steering."
The conning officer, Mineman 1st Class Eric Gummersheimer, reacted by alerting the engineering crew to take manual control of the ship's steering. All throughout the evolution, Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Patrick L. German was watching and gently offering advice to the bridge crew.
"Stick to the basics. If you stick to the basics, you'll never go wrong," German said to the helmsman.
Mineman Seaman Jose Arregui, the helmsman for the evolution, was able to regain control of the ship, and said he learned useful skills for dealing with the adverse conditions.
"I knew what to do before, but this acted as a great refresher," said Arregui. "I feel confident that I could handle it in a real situation."
Supervising the helmsman and operating the ship's announcing system, Viera said that seamanship training required quick reflexes. Viera said competency in basic seamanship was at the heart of an effective emergency response.
"Like our captain always says, you have to be brilliant at the basics," said Viera.
Avenger is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.