BREMERTON, WASH (NNS) -- USS Nimitz (CVN 68) conducted a General Quarters drill early morning Sept. 23 while in dry dock as part of move to shift from a maintenance-centric focus to one on operational readiness.
"We're at the important phase of transitioning from maintenance production to getting ready for our operational mission during our 2012 deployment," said Capt. Mike Donnelly, Nimitz' executive officer. "That's a step-by-step approach that we need to begin now. By deployment, we need to be fully mission capable, and by December, we need to be fully capable to support casualties underway."
Donnelly said Nimitz was in the early stages of mastering General Quarters, since as many as 1000 new personnel have come aboard since the ship entered dry dock in December 2010.
The purpose of the drill was to educate new personnel, refresh the proficiency of the veterans and ensure equipment worked properly.
"We have to dress out in four minutes or less," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate
(Handling) Airman Esther Gootee. "We have to put on the pants, rubber boots and jacket and make sure we have all of the proper equipment."
During General Quarters, many divisions and repair lockers conducted individual training sessions. Damage Controlman 3rd Class Martin Whitaker held training for boundarymen. "We focus on controlling and preventing the spread of the damage," he said. "The Sailors I taught received the training well. Participation is key, and the more you participate, the better the training is."
As the training pressed on, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Daniel B. Bymer-Schultz and Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Walter Zaldaña from Air department's V-3 division simulated overhauling an aircraft fire. "It was pretty much refresher training," said Bymer-Schultz. "We did pretty well for not doing it for over a year. It all came back pretty easily and we received great training from senior personnel."
Even up until the drill was secured, V-3 division continued to press on with their training. Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) 1st Class Anthony Fripp, the division's leading petty officer instructed the hose team on how to properly extinguish an aircraft fire. "It was rough, but they're coming along," he said. "We have a lot of new guys, so we have to train harder and more extensively." Fripp said this amount of training was necessary in preparation for getting underway again.
"The aspect of the drill I was most impressed with was the enthusiasm towards the safety of the crew and the ship," said Donnelly "We were able to accomplish all of the objectives, which is vitally important as we move towards more complex scenarios. We got good data points of where we are and where we need to go in terms of qualifications."