Coast Guard Auxiliary soaks up damage control training


HUDGINS, Va. – Ray Procopio, a Flotilla 66 Coast Guard Auxiliary member, works to stop water flow during damage control training at Coast Guard Station Milford Haven here Sept. 14, 2011. Active duty station members hosted the training to help auxiliary members learn initial response tactics for responding to flooding vessel. U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary photo by Brian McArdle.

Post written by Brian McArdle, international affairs-division chief, Coast Guard Auxiliary and Petty Officer 3rd Class Cynthia Oldham.

Coast Guard Auxiliary members recently patched, plugged and drenched themselves while participating in damage control training held at Coast Guard Station Milford Haven, in Hudgins, Va.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Matthew Welsh, the station’s officer-in-charge, decided hands-on training for initial response to a flooding vessel would be a fun and productive way to share maritime knowledge with local Auxiliary members in the 5th District’s southern region serving Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

“A number of our Auxiliary facilities have assisted in rescuing vessels taking on water, and their main focus was getting the damaged vessel to a safe haven,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Clifford Morgan, a damage controlman at the station who officiated the training. The goal was to teach Auxiliary members how to minimize flooding while getting a vessel to safety.

During several day of training, teams of four worked to control flooding in a damage control training trailer, which is a portable metal container used to simulate flooding scenarios. With help from outside hoses, the trailer simulates a variety of circumstances including a through-hull puncture, seam-leak and a broken pipe, all which may result in a boat taking on water.

Morgan emphasized creativity while trying to stop penetrating water. There are standard pre-fabricated patches and plugs located aboard many vessels, but the training highlighted the importance of also being able to use non-traditional items to stop water flow.

“Old lines, material from life jackets, cut-up fender, your pant’s belt or even the shirt off your back are all useful materials. You need to think outside the box,” said Morgan.

Jim Thomas, auxiliarist from Flotilla 33, Kilmarnock, Va., said the training was “outstanding”.

“I never would have thought of using some of the material aboard a boat to stop a leak,” said Thomas. “Using a pipe or boat hook to twist a line around a pipe was new to me and worked great! I would recommend this training to everyone.”

Thomas is one of approximately 30,000 Coast Guard auxiliarists who serve in the volunteer, non-military arm of the Coast Guard. The Auxiliary serves the general public through boating safety classes, vessel safety checks and safety patrols on the water and in the air.

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