SAN DIEGO –
The first West Coast Electrical Safety Summit took place on the San Diego waterfront, including a visit to the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) July 20.
The week-long conference was prompted by the introduction of 4,160 volts electrical systems installed aboard conventional surface ships, and electrical propulsion systems aboard ships such as Makin Island. Attended by representatives from NAVSEA, Surface Force Pacific Fleet, and from ships, the emphasis of the conference was safety.
“We had a pilot summit in Norfolk, Virginia,” said Mr. Khosrow Moniri, SEA Technical Warrant Holder-Electrical. “It was a pilot summit with mainly carrier and select surface ships This is the first big one we’ve had involving submarines, carriers, as well as surface ships.”
When asked if electrical safety is getting easier or harder with technological improvements, Moniri said, “With ships’ electrifications, there really is no difference. The requirements are changing somewhat because the voltages are greater, but fundamentals stay the same. There are a few changes, mainly the introduction of flash requirements for U.S. Navy starting next year. The secondary objective with electrification of the ship is bringing hazards to forces that are not usually working with electrical systems, such as hydraulic systems, if it’s changed to an electrical actuator, our objective is to make sure that they are trained and understand electrical safety and how to work around electrical systems.”
“Discipline, knowledge, and following orders and rules…,” said Moniri, “Do not deviate from it. The only time we’ve had injuries is when deviations from established fundamentals and rules have taken place. A lot of it is human instinct and cultural behavior, and that is probably number one with anyone working around electrical systems. It’s not that they don’t know; they feel very comfortable and they get out of their comfort zone.”
Capt. Lynn Peterson, SEA 05 Electrical Test & Evaluation, said, “Overall awareness of electrical safety is what we need to be concerned about, and that’s fostered by training – what we can do at the ship’s force level, what we can do to train at the schoolhouse before the sailors and officers get on board the ship, to prepare them to be able to deal with the new electrification systems that are coming on board our ships.”
“If something doesn’t seem right, stop,” said Peterson. “One of the things that came out in the training yesterday was, you don’t have to wear eagles or anchors on your collar to be a leader. If you see something wrong, the most junior Fireman Recruit can step in and say, ‘Hey, that’s wrong! Let’s stop and regroup and figure out what we’re doing.’”
Moniri, when asked about the importance of saving lives by adhering to high electrical safety standards and maintaining strong programs, said, “I’d say very bluntly, rules are written to protect you. Don’t violate them. If something is wrong, that is because something is wrong. Stop it, pull back, and ask questions. Don’t do anything until you know the answer. People do get hurt, 120 volts or 5 kilovolts, it doesn’t matter. 120 volts will hurt you just as bad as 5 kilovolts. If you see something’s wrong, that’s because something is probably wrong, so stop, pull back, ask questions, and start troubleshooting.”
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