SASEBO, Japan – On Aug. 15, the crew of forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS ESSEX (LHD 2) prepared for its upcoming Unit Level Training Assessment-Certification (ULTRA-C) by fighting a simulated helicopter crash/fire and responding to a simulated mass casualty scenario on the flight deck.
The drill included a Class Bravo fire and numerous simulated flight deck personnel injuries. This drill was the latest in a series of shipboard Integrated Training Team (ITT) drills designed to practice and hone Air Department Sailors' medical and damage control emergency response procedures.
“We are learning to integrate with the Aviation Training Team and the Damage Control Training Team to ensure that we maximize our ability to deal with this kind of situation,” said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman William Ryan, Medical Department’s leading chief petty officer and a member of ESSEX' Medical Training Team. “We are getting better and we will continue to improve.”
Along with the mass casualty drills, ESSEX holds multiple integrated drill scenarios weekly in preparation for ULTRA-C.
“We are keeping a steady strain,” said Ryan. “Tuesdays and Thursdays we have first aid drills and we are trying to integrate more mass casualty drills into the scenarios.”
ULTRA-C assesses a ship’s proficiency in air warfare, anti-terrorism, and force protection, communications, cryptology, electronic warfare, medical, damage control and seamanship.
“ULTRA-C is a certification for all of the ship’s mission areas,” said Lt. Michael Barksdale, ESSEX Training Officer. “Following ULTRA-C, we expect to be granted continued certification to conduct independent training.”
ESSEX will be assessed by a team of inspectors from Afloat Training Group Western Pacific (ATG).
“ATG will assess our training team’s abilities to train our watch standers,” said Barksdale. “They are also going to assess the watch stander's ability in the warfare areas to which they are prescribed.”
According to Barksdale, ESSEX is already proficient in many of the areas due to the frequency of ship operations. Regardless, ESSEX has ramped up its training focusing not only on the basics but also on key interdepartmental damage control integration to prepare for a successful ULTRA-C.
“I’m confident that we’ll do well considering all of the drills that have been taking place,” said Barksdale. “Especially the damage control drills, we have been hitting that pretty hard. We already accomplished the engineering portion of the ULTRA back in May.”
ESSEX is scheduled to undergo its ULTRA-C evaluation in September.