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NORTH SEA – Standing NATO Maritime Group TWO  (SNMG2) Dutch ship HNLMS TROMP (F 803) conducted a multiple-event damage control exercise May 15, taking advantage of transit time between the completion of exercise Dynamic Mongoose and her next port of call.

"The reason we run drills like this is to ensure that our Sailors are prepared for worst-case scenarios. In order to make sure that casualty response is automatic, we train several times a month,” said TROMP’s prospective Damage Control Officer, Lt. j.g. Arnout Wevers. "Throughout the year, we receive many new Sailors and in order to train them, we need to make sure that we have well-qualified key players. The knowledge that we gain from these drills helps us protect the ship and teach others.”

Sailors aboard TROMP began the exercise with a simulated vessel collision that set into effect several casualties along the ship such as flooding, fuel spill, fire and medical emergency. Damage control teams were dispatched to the affected areas simultaneously from various locations throughout the ship.

"The reason we have so many teams in so many places responding at the same time is so that we can be sure each casualty is given the care that it requires,” said Lt. Mariska Albers, TROMP’s medical officer. "For my teams specifically, it’s important to have several medical responders at all casualties in case damage control efforts fail and the situation gets out of hand. For fire and flooding teams it’s the same; we want to make sure that we are not overtaken in one area because we were focused in another.”

The drill contained two fires and five flooding-type events to include hull damage and fuel overflows. The ship’s casualty response teams gained control of the events in as little as 20 minutes from gear dress out to final desmoking and dewatering.

"One of the crucial aspects of effective damage control is getting a complete picture of all the damage that the ship has taken as fast as possible. To accomplish this goal, the crew has pre-assigned routes that allow for a quick and thorough assessment of all the spaces on board the ship,” said Lt. Harm Hoogveld, TROMP watch officer and aft damage control officer. "This allows us to have complete coverage utilizing all of our Sailors. The main cause of injury to personnel from a fire is smoke; so the faster we locate and combat a fire, the less danger there is to our teams and crew.”

Naval forces each have their own unique training schedules including seamanship, daily maneuvers, and warfare training. However, damage control plays a pivotal role aboard any naval vessel.

"Damage control is extremely important for Navy ships because we are self-contained. We cannot call the fire department or an ambulance to help us out,” said Wevers. "The impact of a strong damage control program is that we are better able to protect our ship and our Sailors and we can better assist if there is an emergency on another ship in the battle group.”

TROMP is currently deployed to the North Sea with SNMG2, contributing to security, stability and NATO’s situational awareness in the region.

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