On 23 April, 2010, NCBC Cadets were joined by Cadets from USS Joseph P. Kennedy Division (Fall River, MA) for a morning of exciting training aboard the Navy's only fully enclosed wet trainer, the USS BUTTERCUP, at Naval Station Newport, RI. The training for the 19 participants (including two active duty Corpsmen, one student and former Sea Cadet from the Naval Academy Prep School, and one volunteer from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Point Judith) lasted about five hours, and was led by four instructors. The classroom portion of the training covered the different conditions of material readiness, as well as shoring and hole-patching techniques. Then, the students moved into the floating wet trainer, which holds 38,000 gallons of water at depths of five to eight feet. Replicating a naval vessel, the Buttercup trainer contained nine compartments - a fan room, damage control central, a damage control repair station, a berthing compartment and storerooms.
Following a simulated missile attack, the wet trainer takes on water and begins to sink, with the Sea Cadets aboard. It is their job to save the ship. "It was pretty intense - it took a long time before we identified all the leaks and got the damage control teams in place," one Cadet related afterwards. "The hardest tasks were the shoring, which had to be done underwater. The wooden beams kept on trying to float away, holding everything in place underwater was a real challenge."
The Buttercup staff debriefed the Cadets after the exercise, going over lessons learned and where things could have been done better. The good news was that each patch, plate, and brace was installed correctly, the flooding was brought under control, and the Cadets saved their ship!
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