SOUTH CHINA SEA (June 29,2011) Sailors exhibit teamwork in a timed exercise to don advanced chemical protective gear within eight seconds during a mock chemical attack aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73).(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Erin Devenberg/RELEASED)

SOUTH CHINA SEA (June 29, 2011) - Armed with MCU-2/P gas masks, Sailors aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) manned their designated repair lockers to train for combat in a contaminated environment. The chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) drill was George Washington’s first since getting underway June 12.

“We need to train and train hard for every possible scenario,” said George Washington’s commanding officer, Capt. David Lausman. “We operate peacefully in international waters but we still need to always be prepared for all different forms of attack.”

The CBR drill is a simulation to practice mission oriented protective posture (MOPP) levels which range from one to four. Level one indicates a threat is possible while at level four, intelligence suggest an attack using chemical, biological or radiological weapons is imminent and the crew is ordered to put on their MOPP gear. The protective postures are also used in the event a ship passes through a chemical cloud or is exposed to fallout.

For Engineman Fireman Aaron Bates from Newport Beach, Calif., a new Sailor aboard George Washington, this evolution was a great reminder of the first time he donned the CBR protective gear.

“[Putting the gear on] brought me back to boot camp,” said Bates “I forgot how constricting it was after putting it on, but it was a good exercise and it was good to refresh myself of the basic fundamentals [of CBR drills].”

MCU-2/P masks protect Sailors against agents meant to harm them in warfare. For the 5,500 Sailors aboard George Washington, this goal is to get the mask on in just eight seconds. For the newest members of the crew, more senior Sailors were on hand to coach and motivate them to meet this requirement.

“They did quite well; everyone pitched in,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate Ralph Galvan from Corpus Christi, Texas. “For the new guys, the more experienced [Sailors] helped orientate them to the drill. I was pretty impressed by everyone out here today.”

“From fighting simulated fires to mock chemical attack, we train day and night to make sure when something happens, we respond correctly and that everyone operates off the same page. That’s the only way to be successful; train, train, train,” said Lausman.

George Washington returned to patrolling the waters of the Western Pacific ocean on June 12, 2011, departing her forward operating base of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka. Onboard are more than 5,500 Sailors from George Washington and Carrier Air Wing Five. George Washington’s mission is to ensure security and stability in the Western Pacific and to be in position to work with our allies and regional partners to respond to any crisis across the operational spectrum as directed.