Oklahoma Sailors Train To Navigate Disaster On USS George HW Bush

Thursday, May 9th 2019, 10:55 pm
By: Amy Slanchik

News On 6 traveled to Norfolk, Virginia to see first-hand the safety training Oklahoma sailors go through after they join the Navy. A recent death on the USS George HW Bush brought a new level of seriousness to the training.

"It gives the ship a chance to practice in emergency situations," says Commander Trevor Arneson. "They always say the more you practice in training, the less you bleed in actual battle."

The sailors are practicing what to do if the ship is hit by a missile. They also have scenarios for a flood or a fire on board.

"We don't have first responders that can come on board the ship and take care of us. We have to take care of our own ship," Commander Arneson says.

Every sailor on board is trained to fight fires and do anything a paramedic would do. Aircraft Director Amie Maychszak pretended to be on fire for the drill.

"I like to be the fire to mainly motivate everybody, and I kind of give them clues if they're doing something wrong," Maychszak says.

While working together and preparing for situations can be fun, there is a very real, ever-present danger on the ship. Especially on the flight deck.

"I always tell people that things on the flight deck will kill you," Commander Arneson says.

A few months ago it did. On September 17th, 21-year-old Airman Apprentice Joseph Naglak died after the Navy says he was struck by a turning propeller on an E-2C Hawkeye. It happened after the aircraft was secured to the flight deck. 

"It's still pretty fresh," says Maychszak. "I was up on the flight deck when it happened."

Below the flight deck and back in the hanger bay, Naglak's life is on the hearts and minds of many during training.

"He was one of us. You've gotta put that in perspective. Like, we don't want any of our friends or co-workers, anybody, not to go home," Maychszak says.

"We grieved for Airman Naglak, but we had to continue to move on and move forward," says Commander Arneson. "And that's what I'm sure he would want us to, would have wanted us to do as well."

So while they don't see real flames or water rushing, each training scenario is meant to strengthen what some sailors already know and pass that knowledge down to the next generation.

"This is one of the greatest jobs in the world, it really is," Commander Arneson says.