Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Navy training goes Hollywood

Reported as Setting the stage for survival at sea:
Looming several stories high and stretching more than 200 feet, the Navy's newest "destroyer" is, in fact, meant to create -- by turning uncertain recruits into confident sailors through a 12-hour simulation of the numbing tedium and spontaneous terror of life at sea.

The USS Trayer, a mock-up created by civilian special-effects wizards, is the centerpiece of the $82.5 million Battle Stations 21, located at Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, home of the Navy's only boot camp. Battle Stations, which all recruits must pass to graduate, puts dog-tired sailors-to-be through 17 scenarios, from taking inventory of a storeroom and watching generator gauges to an early-morning missile attack and firefighting.
In a scenario based on the terrorist bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, crews have to fight fires (real ones, though controlled by a facilitator), deal with flooded compartments and mass casualties, McKinley said. Lifelike dummies equipped with MP3 players moan amid the wreckage of a collapsed deck, smoke and flames.

The lesson is, "Bad stuff happens when you're least prepared for it," McKinley said.

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