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Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Emily Johnston

NAVAL BASE KITSAP-BREMERTON, Wash. – Sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) participated in gas-free training at the Naval Base Kitsap gym, Jan. 22-26.

The training was provided by Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS & IMF) workers to transition Nimitz Sailors smoothly into the shipyard environment after deployment.

They provided training to both Sailors and shipyard workers about the hazards of working in an industrial shipyard, what to do in an emergency situation, and how to properly read tags to assess hazards of specific spaces.

Ten training sessions were organized and held at the base gym over the course of five days to ensure that Nimitz’s nearly 3,000 Sailors received the mandatory training.

“As our commanding officer said, towards the end of deployment, we shifted our mission,” said the ship’s Assistant Training Officer, Lt. David Todd, from Mesa, Arizona. “Our mission now is the docking-planned incremental availability period. The ship was already an industrial site, but is becoming more so as we move into the yards. This poses potential threats to our Sailors, which requires further training.”

This is a significant shift of settings for Sailors. Gas-free and confined spaces that remain secured underway are opened and large amounts of hot work and maintenance are performed. This causes a higher risk of fires and accidents that Sailors are not familiar with.

“We do this training for the awareness of potential risks,” said Nathan Wheeler, the gas-free instructor for PSNS. “Because it’s an industrial work area, there could be a leaky air hose that could fill up a space, and you can’t see that so people just jump in without thinking about it.”

It is vital that all workers, especially Nimitz Sailors coming off deployment, follow the same rules to maximize safety and efficiency in the shipyard. Sailors and civilian counterparts operating under the same program prevents overlapping work and provides a clear understanding of shipyard procedures.

“Coming off of deployment, we’re used to working in the U.S. 5th and 7th fleet, so having the shipyard workers provide the training helps integrate us into the shipyard mindset,” said Todd. “We need to be able to work together to make sure they’re doing the appropriate work in the appropriate spaces, and training up on the gas-free environment will help us better work with the shipyard.”

Wheeler said that safety and welfare of all workers, both Sailors and civilians, is the key purpose of the training.

The industrial atmosphere of the shipyard can be hazardous, but is necessary for naval operations. A safe and effective yard period is essential to each ship and crew, making gas-free training a fundamental role in the Navy’s mission.

Nimitz is currently preparing for a planned incremental availability at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility where the ship will receive scheduled maintenance and upgrades.



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