USS Hopper (DDG 70)
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US, Coalition Sailors Practice Firefighting On Iraqi Oil Platform

AL BASRA OIL TERMINAL, Iraq (NNS) -- The Sailors of guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) conducted a joint damage control drill with coalition Sailors assigned to Commander Task Force – Iraqi Maritime (CTF-IM) aboard Al Barsa Oil Terminal (ABOT) Dec. 3.

The oil platform is run by Southern Oil Company of Iraq, and facilitates export of millions of gallons of crude oil a day from ashore.

Originally assigned for ABOT's external defense, Hopper has begun to train the ABOT team to defend his important piece of Iraqi infrastructure against internal threats such as fire.

Hopper's Damage Control Training Team simulated both a materiel fire in a berthing compartment and the rapid spread of flames to other compartments. Hopper's Rescue and Assistance Team was called into action and arrived at ABOT via small boat with the fire fighting equipment required to fight and contain the fire. With cooperation between Hopper's team, the coalition forces that initially responded to the fire, and the Southern Oil Company personnel who control the installed fire fighting equipment, the fire was put out.

"During the whole evolution, both sides worked together and communicated well to ensure success," said Ensign Jessica Fitzgerald, Hopper's Repair Officer and Rescue and Assistance Team Officer in Charge (OIC).

The group of 11 Sailors that make up the Rescue and Assistance Team are trained to provide assistance to other ships, including merchant vessels in distress.

"This can be for a fire, flooding, or medical issue," explains Chief Damage Controlman Joseph Montenero, Hopper's Damage Control training team coordinator. "But the possibility of a fire on ABOT is very realistic, so it is important that we think outside the box and train to this situation."

Throughout the drill and afterward, the Hopper Training Team offered guidance to the coalition forces to better enable them to handle a damage control situation on the platform. They discussed proper communication between the team members, correct responses, and procedures to contain a casualty.

"This exercise is a building block for establishing how a naval unit conducting perimeter defense duties can assist in the damage control effort," said Commander Timothy Kott, Hopper's Commanding Officer. "A ship's ability to augment in a crisis is critical, and that is what we rehearsed today."

The combined drill was the first of its kind on the oil platform, and formed the foundation for continued training and improved crisis response procedures.

"We brought to ABOT something that we live by day to day on naval ships – damage control is everyone's responsibility!" declared Montenero.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.

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