Iwakuni tests sailors on waterfront safety
May 18, 2006
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — With a new, greatly expanded harbor, sailors at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni’s waterfront could have more chances to see a man overboard or fuel spill.
The harbor’s leadership decided to test both skills Monday with two surprise drills — a Jet Ski accident involving three people and later a large fuel spill.
They were the largest base-wide drills Iwakuni has had in at least six years, organizers said.
The new waterfront — on manmade reclaimed land — means more watercraft are likely, from large ships like the USS Essex to Jet Skis.
“We’re starting to see a lot more of that activity out here so it’s a very realistic scenario,” said Maj. Tal Jackson, the harbor operations officer.
The leadership decided a surprise drill would better test the first responders’ reactions.
The sailors were surprised, but that doesn’t really matter, said Seaman Cedna Eugene. “Even if it’s a drill you have to take it as real.”
Thirty minutes after a lookout spotted the crash and called man overboard, the victims were safe, even a dummy playing an unconscious person.
The sailors resumed their previous task — scraping barnacles. But it wasn’t over. Hours later, a second surprise simulated a fuel spill.
Both drills went smoothly, said Petty Officer 1st Class Ken Wright, a boatswains mate and the next harbormaster. Since they were the first, they’re also being used as a template for future rescues.
“We need to see what everybody does,” he said. “We’ll write the [standard operating procedures] based on this.”