Coast Guard keeps Tradewinds 2012 from sinking
Posted by PA3 Richard Brahm, Friday, July 27, 2012
You are on a go-fast boat chasing down drug smugglers when your boat slams into a submerged object and your engines shutdown. Water is suddenly pouring in from multiple areas and is causing a plethora of other problems. What do you do?
The exercise covered topics ranging from stopping the flow of water into your vessel, to how to properly seal a watertight door, to the different types and proper use of fire extinguishers.
Ensign Don Rudnickas is an engineering officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Oak and was in charge of the scenario.“The exercise starts off with a small group from partner nations climbing into a device called the wet trainer and the wet trainer has several things that can go wrong with it,” Rudnickas said.
The wet trainer is a hands-on device that simulates a ship that has suffered some type of underway accident and is taking on water. As the water starts to pour in the people in the simulator have to stop it from sinking.
A small group of four is put in the simulator with all of the tools they need to fix any of the problems the instructors could throw at them. An instructor can adjust valves and levers that will cause the wet trainer to “sustain damage” to test the student’s skills, knowledge and reactions.
From there the exercise participants go to multiple other stations that have been setup, including fire fighting, shoring and first aid training.
“Our fire fighting station goes through fire fighting team tactics, theory, pump techniques and tactics,” Rudnickas said. “Over at the shoring station they are taught how to shore a quick acting water type door, as well as a hatch in the deck, and from there they head over to our first aid station where they learn the basics of first aid.
“We want these guys to leave here with a general sense of how we operate together as a team, so when we operate on the water together in the Caribbean Sea we can function together. It doesn’t matter which flag we are flying or what shade of blue we are wearing when we get on scene, we can show up and have a general sense of how everyone operates and we can pull together to effectively accomplish a mission.”For 28 years the Tradewinds exercise has helped build partnerships with multiple nations. Barbados hosted the 2012 Tradewinds exercise from June 14 – 24, which involved the participation of 17 partner nations from the Caribbean region, as well as the U.S. and Canada.