By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Brian Sloan
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 12, 2015) – The Engineering, Weapons and Air departments aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) conducted testing of critical fire-fighting systems, May 11-12.
Crew members performed tests on the ship’s fire suppression systems, also known as the countermeasure wash-down systems, which are essential to damage control efforts aboard the ship.
“The tests ensure that we have fire and chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) fighting capabilities,” said Lt. Cmdr. Morgan Ames, George Washington’s damage control assistant. “In the event of a major catastrophe, we know that we’ll be able to combat the casualty.”
The countermeasure wash-down system, maintained by George Washington‘s Damage Control division, utilizes seawater and aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) to combat fires by smothering a flame’s oxygen supply. AFFF also protects crewmembers by drenching the ship’s exterior before potential contaminants have a chance to enter the ship.
During this test, a concentration of 6 percent AFFF and 94 percent water is sprayed throughout the ship’s hangar bays and outer skin. Once the solution covers the ship, decks are sprayed with seawater.
“Testing is performed throughout the hangar bay, flight deck, island and fantail,” said Damage Controlman 1st Class Walter Dailey, from Norfolk, Va. “These are the areas where a CBR attack or serious fire are likely to occur.”
In preparation for the countermeasure wash-down, the AFFF system requires more than 200 preventative maintenance checks. Although the system is constantly being maintained, the countermeasure wash-down test is the only time every system is simultaneously operated. The hangar bay wash-down used approximately 2,000 gallons of AFFF.
“My Sailors spend so much time and energy maintaining the ship’s fire-fighting systems that it’s exciting to see everything working like it should,” said Dailey. “We look forward to this every year because it shows our hard work is paying off.”