USS Makin Island
“Gung Ho”
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Story Number: NNS090219-30 

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Glenn S. Robertson, Pre-Commissioning Unit Makin Island Public Affairs

-- Sailors from Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Makin Island (LHD 8) completed the five-day Crash and Salvage Team Trainer course Feb. 13 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola.

The course, administered by Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC), is a requirement for ship's aviation certification, the process designed to ensure required shipboard aviation facilities and equipment are installed and functioning properly.

Makin Island's Crash and Salvage Team made the trip to Pensacola from Pascagoula, Miss., to take part in the training. Twenty Sailors who worked together as a single team for the first time, earned a perfect score on the final practical exam, an unprecedented feat for a pre-commissioning ship.

"They displayed the knowledge and motivation that's going to be necessary on board Makin Island," said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate, (Handling) (AW/SW) Hoover Jensen, Crash and Salvage leading chief petty officer. "Now they have to bring it to the ship and maintain or increase their abilities as crash and salvage crewmen."

The training covered live aircraft fires, both internally and externally, according to Jensen, as well as aircraft rescue and salvage procedures on every aircraft that will be used in flight operations aboard Makin Island. They combated live aircraft fires on foot as well as using the P-25 Mobile Firefighting Vehicle, and operated a crash forklift and crane to perform aircraft salvage operations.

Specifically, they performed firefighting and rescue operations with aircraft filled with smoke as well as engulfed in flame, according to Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Cody Sprayberry, and also the proper procedures for shutting down a number of aircraft in order to properly complete salvage efforts.

The final practical exam simulated an aircraft crash on a flight deck, and continued through the necessary steps of damage control, crew rescue, and finally aircraft salvage, using the P-25 and all the tools demonstrated during the course. The crew's 100 percent score was earned by following all the firefighting, rescue and salvage steps perfectly. Combined with the practical exam, the crew scored an overall 95 percent score with their written exams.

"We've set the standard for all future Makin Island crash and salvage crews," said Jensen. "And this was the first time they've come together as one team."

The primary purpose of crash and salvage operations is to save lives, said Jensen, from the aircraft's pilot and crew to the ship's personnel. After that, crash and salvage exists to minimize damage to the aircraft and ship.

Makin Island, scheduled for an Oct. 24, 2009 commissioning in San Diego, will be the Navy's eighth and final Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.

For more news from PCU Makin Island (LHD 8), visit
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