PENSACOLA, Fla. – Civilian employees and contract workers from Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola’s Port Operations Department completed required annual facility response training recertification May 16 at the air station’s Allegheny Pier.
NAS Pensacola is one of four installations in the continental United States with an active airfield and a deep water port.
The Facility Response Training (FRT) scenario, an annual recertification process conducted by NAS Pensacola’s Port Operations and orchestrated by contracted company LRS Gryphon Joint Venture (JV), involved a simulated oil spill. The three-day course is something LRS Gryphon JV FRT instructor John Hamilton said is crucial to the continued success of NAS Pensacola supporting U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and authorized visiting ships.
“FRT training conducted at U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps installations is critical to meet the requirements of federal and state regulations concerning bulk oil storage in coastal areas and to learn how to properly respond to possibly oil spills to protect the environment in our communities,” Hamilton said. “This type of training also meets the OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] required training for oil spill responders and insures our response personnel can conduct an oil response mission in a safe manner.”
Hamilton added that FRT training is designed to teach management skills for oil spill response and how to successfully deploy, operate and maintain a variety of oil response systems and equipment.
NAS Pensacola’s Metson Marine contracted employees practiced deploying oil containment booms, using the department’s pump truck – a vehicle designed to collect oil from an actual spill – and operating the facility’s rapid response skimmers, which are watercraft designed to collect oil and debris using a collection belt deployed underneath the vessel.
In addition to containing two simulated oil spills at the air station’s pier, NAS Pensacola’s Metson Marine contract workers were also tasked with responding to a simulated medical emergency aboard one of the department’s skimmer boats.
NAS Pensacola Port Operations Department Head Chief Warrant Officer 4 Sigarrie Nettles said the training these members received during the three-day course is critical to the air station continuing service to the vessels in and transiting the area.
“The Port Operations department has always been a capable and responsive team,” he said. “Being able to not only protect our assets but make sure we’re able to adhere to CNRSE [Commander, Navy region Southeast] and CNIC [Commander, Navy Installations Command] regulations and protect the environment are all part of ensuring we are providing the best support possible to the assets using our service.”
Hamilton added that although practical application of proper oil spill containment techniques is critical, the avoidance of any mishaps is of utmost consideration.
“Truly our mission at our bulk oil storage installations is prevention, but we still need to train and practice for all possible oil spills to ensure our environment is viable for generations to come,” he said.
LRS Gryphon JV, awarded a contract to instruct FRT training, Spill Management Team (SMT) training and New Skimmer Training, provides on-site instruction for oil spill response at Navy and U.S. Marine Corps facilities around the world. Training is designed to simulate real scenarios, affording students the opportunity to practice responding quickly and appropriately in the event of an actual oil spill.
For more than a century, NAS Pensacola, referred to as the "Cradle of Naval Aviation," has supported operational and training missions of tenant commands, currently including Naval Air Technical Training Center (NATTC), Naval Aviation Schools Command (NASC), the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT), Marine Aviation Training Support Groups (MATSG) 21 and 23 and is the headquarters for Naval Education and Training Command (NETC).