Newport News, Va. - The crew of Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford held their first all-hands general quarters (GQ) damage control drill on February 4th.
As the first shipwide drill aboard the new aircraft carrier, the Ford's crew focused on damage control and emergency responses - a significant step in certifying the crew as they train to fight and take ownership of the ship.
"GQ is a meeting of the minds," said Damage Controlman 1st Class Letitia McKelvey. "It allows departments who don't normally work together a chance to become a team. They build teamwork and learn how to rely on each other for help."
This teamwork is important when a ship is underway. At sea, Sailors are responsible for all shipboard efforts. There is no other support coming to aid in damage control efforts. The crew itself serves as fire department, hospital and any other emergency response personnel who would usually be called upon.
"This first GQ is a great opportunity for us to assess ourselves," said Chief Damage Controlman Michael Lewis, the ship's assistant fire marshal. "Now we know where we are. This is all baby steps; we have to crawl before we can run."
During the GQ drill, Ford Sailors conducted training with damage control and medical training props, while others responded to simulations of shipboard emergencies.
"This GQ was a major milestone for Ford because it pushes the ship significantly forward in preparation for Crew Certification 2 and being able to get the ship underway and out of the shipyards", said Damage Controlman 1st Ryan Vanderstouw. "With Crew Certification 2 and Crew Certification 3 coming up in the future, we have to get everyone qualified and get everyone trained up and demonstrate to inspectors that we have what it takes to take the ship to sea and be successful during any hurdles we may encounter out there at sea."
The Ford is currently under construction at Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding.