ARABIAN GULF – ““This is the TAO, missile hit starboard side, all hands relax brace.”
Within minutes, reports of flooding, fires and other casualties are are pouring into Damage Control Central (DCC) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). It’s hectic – phone talkers pass message blanks to the plotters who then plot casualties and then pass those message blanks to the damage control assistant (DCA). The DCA calls out casualties on the 1MC and announces fire and flooding boundaries.
DCC is the central coordination point for reporting and combating all casualties that occur throughout the ship.
There are three damage control conditions. The normal condition is Condition Three DCC is manned with watches around the clock composed of Sailors from Reactor and Engineering departments.
These watchstanders monitor everything from water usage, electrical loads and the ship’s propulsion, to any alarms that may be going off around the ship.
“Water control watch manages where the water goes and how much is being made,” said Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Natasha Santos, from Reactor department’s Machinery division. “The load dispatcher is electricity. Without him, we won’t be able to run our pumps to make the water, so it’s a teamwork kind of thing. If his electricity isn’t going, then our water isn’t getting made and then the engineering people don’t have water for their air conditioning units.”
As the conditions progress, watchstanders continue to monitor their equipment to keep the ship going. Condition Two DC is set if there is a casualty that the at-sea fire party (ASFP) can’t handle without support. Then the rest of Engineering will support them in combating the casualty.
“With Condition Two DC, you can keep calling away more lockers to help respond,” said
Lt. Cmdr. Ashley Pankop, TR’s DCA. “The idea is that you don’t want to disrupt all the operations on the ship to go to General Quarters (GQ). That way, the whole ship can keep focus on its current mission.”
“If it looks like it’s going to get out of control, we’ll call away Condition One DC which is what we know as GQ,” said Pankop. “We man all the battle dressing stations and repair lockers.”
Each repair locker sends Sailors to DCC to talk on the sound-powered telephones and chart casualties during GQ. It’s the central location for damage control communications, whether the ship is in Condition One, Two or Three. All DC messages come through DCC.
“I think it’s really important because every casualty will get reported to Central,” said Santos. “We work together, Engineering, DC and Reactor. We’re the ones who know the most about combating casualties. Everyone learns a little, but we’re the experts.”
Sailors in DCC have to work together because it’s the one place that tracks the status of what’s going on with the ship.
“We’re on a tiny little steel island with 5,000 people, and we’ve got millions of gallons of fuel, thousands of pounds of ammo, two nuclear reactors and a lot of other dangerous machinery and toxic gases,” said Pankop. “We don’t really have a whole lot of room on the ship to deal with casualties. If a fire breaks out or if we have a toxic gas leak, it’s going to affect a lot of people really fast. One small miscommunication can make a huge difference in the response and how we attack the casualty.”
Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephane Belcher, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs
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