USS Makin Island
“Gung Ho”
MKI Sailors and Marines Train with San Francisco Fire Dept
SAN FRANCISCO – Sailors and Marines aboard USS Makin Island (LHD 8) conducted search and rescue (SAR) training with the San Francisco Fire Department (SFFD) Oct. 8, as part of San Francisco Fleet Week’s (SFFW) focus on disaster preparedness.

The training, held at the fire department’s rescue systems facility on Treasure Island, focused on urban SAR techniques used in the aftermath of a major earthquake.

Sailors and Marines received hands-on training in vertical shoring systems, cribbing techniques used to elevate debris, and technology and equipment used for rescue operations.

They also had the opportunity to crawl and climb through the facility’s 1.5 million-pound “rubble pile,” which simulates a collapsed structure filled with debris, concrete and crushed vehicles.

Mark Kearney, the SFFD Assistant Deputy Chief, Division of Homeland Security, said the training was intended to give Sailors and Marines an idea of how military and civilian first responders can assist each other during disaster operations.

“We are in a very big earthquake zone, and we know the military can assist us in our time of need,” Kearney explained.

Damage Controlman Third Class Vernon Snodgrass said he found the training useful because some of the knowledge and equipment used for urban SAR operations are also utilized on board Navy ships.

“The reason I became a damage controlman is because I want to become a firefighter, and all the equipment they (SFFD) use, I use every day,” he said.

Senior Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Alex Gallegos also said the training was relevant for the Sailors and Marines.

“Everything that we’ve seen here today, a lot of it is pretty similar to what we have on board the ship for damage control,” Gallegos added.

SFFD Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White spoke with the Sailors and Marines, thanking them for their service to the country. As she discussed the significance of the training events, Hayes-White emphasized the importance of developing a strong relationship between the fire department and military beyond fleet week.

“We’d like to continue the partnership and strengthen the partnership we have with the military. Certainly, there is plenty of opportunity for us to learn from you,” she said.

San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW) is an annual event that gives members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard an opportunity to share their operational capabilities with the local community. SFFW 2010 showcases more than 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen along with their equipment, advanced technology and capabilities. The five-day event is also intended to highlight the contributions and history the military’s sea services have within the San Francisco Bay Area.

Operated by a crew of more than 1,000 Sailors, Makin Island is a multi-mission platform that is equipped to meet the needs of the country, from supporting national objectives to providing much needed relief to a disaster area. Makin Island's revolutionary technology is estimated to save the Navy $250 million throughout its 40-year lifecycle and is a model for future ship designs.

For further information about San Francisco Fleet Week, visit the official website

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