First NBC Washdown Test on a Class 125 Frigate
Functioning processes on board a warship are particularly important in the ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical-Defense essential and an important building block for operational capability. At the beginning of February, the crew of the frigate “Sachsen-Anhalt” was the first to take the exam on a ship of the Baden-Württemberg class.
ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical-Resilience does not mean that a ship’s crew is reluctant to recite the alphabet learned in school. Rather, it means protecting yourself and the ship against a threat from nuclear (A), biological (B) and chemical (C) weapons. The Bravo crew of the 4th frigate squadron took part in a week-long ABC on the “Sachsen-Anhalt”. Atomic, Biological, Chemical-Resilience check (AFÜ) participated. It was the first such review on a 125-class frigate.
According to the regulations, the inspection must be repeated after two and a half years at the latest, provided that the ship and its crew are deployed and there is no shipyard layover. Due to the squadron’s multi-crew concept for the class 125 frigates, component ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical divided for the crew and the ship. This means that on the “Saxony-Anhalt” both the ship itself and the Bravo crew were tested and evaluated. Generally, the review should focus on the ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical-Crew skills review quarterly to develop some routine.
A test team from the marine damage control training center in Neustadt in Holstein and operational trainers from the Wilhelmshaven 2nd operational flotilla were responsible for carrying out this AFÜ. They showed the crew members the ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical-Threats and the right behavior only in theory. The Bravo members then had to put what they had learned into practice. Examiners and examinees reproduced these practical parts as realistically as possible. For example, with the simple assumption that the frigate is at sea, when in fact it was at the pier in the base.
In the event of a real threat, naval warships can be hermetically sealed independently of the circulating air. Overpressure in the ship ensures that no warfare agents get inside. In addition, the air exchange runs through special filter systems that prevent the ingress of ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical- Make substances impossible.
There is also a prewetting system on the upper deck. A spray system fed with seawater envelops the entire ship from the outside with a water mist that is intended to minimize or at best prevent the warfare agents from adhering to the superstructure. However, should there be contamination from the dangerous substances, the seafarers in protective clothing must rinse them off with water and special detergents. One of the artificialities here was that the competent ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical-Defense squads only filled their backpack sprayers with water and not with real decontamination agents, as was the case in heavy-duty operations.
Depending on the exact threat, the servicewomen and men put on a specific protective clothing, regulated by so-called “threat and task-adapted levels of protection”, BAS for short threat- and order-adapted protection states-Stages. They are graded from 0 to 4, with the BAS threat- and order-adapted protection states-Level 0 is the lowest. 0 means the personal ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical-Protective equipment and clothing must be within reach of every soldier on site or within arm’s length. These include: as equipment ABC Atomic, Biological, Chemical- Protective mask with mask bag, filter and roll-up bag as well as the protective suit called overgarment plus overalls, gloves and overshoes.
According to the buddy principle, comrades help each other to put on and take off the additional clothing in order to establish the required protection levels. The principle also serves as a check: the servicewomen and men make sure that everything is properly tightened and sealed.
When you take off your clothes, the “buddy” gives clear instructions, which the comrade confirms with a loud “yes” if he or she has understood the instruction. Because when removing the protective clothing, everyone must ensure that the previously protected body does not come into contact with the contaminated outside of the protective clothing.
At the AFÜ, the crew practiced many different situations at individual stations. For example, a decontamination squad in the ship’s helicopter hangar had to go through its complete procedure. In addition to this station, three more were set up on the frigate.
One for the lock crew, who made sure that no one was carrying pollutants inside the ship. One for the interior search team, who checked the tightness of bulkheads or doors and hatches in the ship. And one for the outside search team, who determined the warfare agent used and the level of contamination on the ship’s upper deck.
All stations worked through checklists carefully so that nothing was forgotten even in the stressful situation. Internationally, the term “kill card” has even been established for these lists because their instructions are usually associated with life-threatening emergencies.
At each station, an examiner noted the actions of the servicewomen and men in order to subsequently evaluate them with them. They also checked the expertise of crew members of all rank groups on board. So everything almost like in school.
At the end of an AFÜ week, there was an assessment that must be at least a school grade of 2 so that the crew can fulfill a further component of their operational training program (EAP). “The EFU is important and an essential part of our EAP,” said Oberleutnant Katharina B. She is one of several section leaders of the Bravo crew and is therefore responsible for the training of several dozen soldiers.
The “Saxony-Anhalt” and the crew Bravo have passed their EFU after an intensive week. They can go into action well prepared and trained. The crew now has some peace until the next test and can implement the experience gained via the AFÜ.