SASEBO, Japan (Aug. 26, 2011) – Sailors aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) completed a week-long limited training evaluation with Afloat Training Group (ATG) Western Pacific Aug. 26.
ATG's limited training team (LTT) helped Essex Sailors prepare for their upcoming Unit Level Training Assessment-Certification (ULTRA-C), which is scheduled for September.
“ATG is here to get Essex’ training teams ready so they can continue to train the crew while the ship is out at sea," said Chief Cryptologic Technician Ned Lentz, a member of ATG Western Pacific’s evaluation team.
ATG evaluated the crew’s proficiency in a number of core competencies, including air warfare, anti-terrorism and force protection, communications, cryptology, electronic warfare, medical response, damage control and seamanship.
Members of the Essex medical training team said they appreciated the assistance from the ATG inspectors.
“The inspectors helped us confirm the areas that we are doing well in and identified some areas that we need to make some adjustments,” said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Bill Ryan, the Essex medical training team coordinator. His corpsmen are being evaluated on how well they have trained the crew to respond to a number of medical situations, including a mass casualty scenario on the flight deck.
“We are training the ship for their basic phase of training,” said Lentz. “We aren’t doing anything advanced. We are looking for a fundamental knowledge for the training teams to teach their watch standers so they can do their jobs.”
ATG’s assessment provided Essex’ own training teams a good idea of what areas the crew needs to focus on to prepare for the actual certification.
“The LTT is like a pretest,” said Lentz. “You don’t walk into a big exam without taking a pretest. If you don’t pass ULTRA-C it turns into remedial training where we keep coming back until you get it right.”
Given the extensive nature of the ULTRA-C evaluation, it is important to take the time to have an outside activity come in and take a look at how the ship is performing its evolutions, said Essex Commanding Officer, Capt. Dave Fluker.
“I very much appreciate the feedback we received from the ATG inspectors,” said Fluker. “We have learned a lot from their LTT and will put their recommendations into practice to make us that much more prepared for ULTRA-C, and more importantly, to execute our shipboard procedures correctly.”
While ATG’s main focus is to evaluate Essex and provide guidance for how to prepare for ULTRA-C, the inspectors also had the opportunity to pre-certify some of the areas evaluated for the certification.
“Essex is pre-certifying in its ability to demonstrate proficiency in establishing and maintaining data processing operations in a stand-alone environment,” said Chief Operations Specialist Chond Crump. “Essex also pre-certified in proficiency in intelligence briefing, collecting and reporting, and establishing and maintaining combat intelligence.”
According to Sonar Technician 1st Class Kevin Griggs, an ATG inspector, Essex is on track for a successful ULTRA-C evaluation.
“For the drills that I have looked at, we have been working through some issues very successfully,” said Griggs. “It’s been a great training opportunity for everyone on board for both the ATG inspectors and the crew. The crew has been very open to the information and the training we are providing. They’ve asked a lot of questions and taken it above and beyond what I would expect when the inspectors come on board.”