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Cole crew, Norfolk Fire Department conduct joint firefighting drill

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Posted: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 4:08 pm | Updated: 10:06 am, Fri May 3, 2013.

NORFOLK -- “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for,” – retired Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper.

Although often true, a ship in port can actually be more dangerous than underway. For example, what happens when a fire breaks out in the shipyards?

USS Cole (DDG 67), currently in a maintenance availability at Marine Hydraulics International (MHI) shipyard, participated in a realistic shipyard fire drill, April 18, which involved Cole Sailors and Norfolk Fire and Rescue firefighters teaming up to put out a simulated fire aboard.

When Cole crew members reported white smoke emerging from the Chief’s Mess, the ship’s fire party immediately responded. As it became apparent that the “fire” was burning out of control, the Cole command duty officer called MHI for assistance. MHI, realizing the scope of the fire, called the Norfolk Fire Department.

As Norfolk firefighters arrived, the ship’s fire marshal, Machinery Repairman 3rd Class Devin Ferjo, directed them to the fire and coordinated integrated firefighting efforts. Sailors and municipal firefighters stood shoulder-to-shoulder, manning the hoses.

“I think it was a great learning experience,” said Ensign Michael Tomsic, the repair locker officer. “I was happy that the Norfolk Fire Department was calm and collected and helped Cole combat the fire. This puts me at ease because I now know that, if we are ever in any dire situation, the elite Norfolk Fire Department will be able to provide aid at the drop of a hat.”

The drill was a coordinated effort between Norfolk Ship Support Activity, Naval Surface Forces Atlantic, Marine Hydraulics International and the Norfolk Fire Department. This exercise will shape future doctrine for the coordination of damage control efforts throughout the fleet.

Cole is an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis-equipped guided missile destroyer homeported in Norfolk. It was commissioned on June 8, 1996, and can accommodate approximately 30 officers and 300 crew. Cole is commanded by Cmdr. Peter Nilsen.

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