MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii — Waterfront Operations sharpened its skills while conducting boom training in Kaneohe Bay, April 11.
In the event of any natural disaster or aviation mishap, resulting in spillage of hazardous waste into the ocean, Waterfront Ops will deploy sailors and a boom to clear hazardous material from the water.
The boom is a device that floats above and below the water to contain oil or environmental hazards floating on the surface. If an aircraft crashes into the water or a ship leaks fuel, sailors will deploy the boom to the location to keep fuel and oil from spreading.
Sailors at Waterfront Ops became proficient in every aspect of boom deployment. For some sailors, it was the first time getting their feet wet with the boom.
“This was my first time training with the boom, it was great and I look forward to future training exercises with it,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Garret Howell, a boatswain’s mate with Waterfront Ops on Marine Corps Base Hawaii and native of Charleston, S.C. “The boom training gave everyone in the unit an opportunity to learn the equipment and get on the same page with the mission as a whole.”
Deploying the boom started with a sailor throwing a rope connected to the boom off the dock and onto the boat, where a sailor attached the boom to the back of the boat. Once the boom was attached, the boat guided the boom around the affected part of the ocean to contain the waste.
From start to finish, sailors on shore and the boat stayed in direct communication with each other.
Hazardous material was not used during the training exercise. Instead, sailors used sticks, leaves and dirt to simulate hazardous material in the water.
Sailors on the dock managing the boom reel released it into the water, connecting additional 100-foot sections as needed to surround the contaminated area.
The platform boat also had a boom reel of its own on board in the event a spill was not accessible from land.
“The boom can be taken anywhere our boats can reach,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Bryan Pentland, the petty officer in charge of the training exercise and native of Washington, Pa. “We are training to respond quickly and contain hazardous material in the ocean.”
Once the boom surrounded the area, sailors connected three anchors to the boom to keep it in place while the hazardous material was removed.
The training gave sailors an opportunity to become familiar with the boats, boom reel and vacuum truck. All of those tools are used to clean contaminated water. If one of those tools isn’t used correctly, the whole operation will fail.
Once the “contaminated” water was captured, sailors drove a vacuum truck to the edge of the dock. They attached a hose to the truck, which sucked up the dirty water.
If a spill occurs where the vacuum truck can’t reach, Waterfront Ops has a boat with similar capabilities giving them the ability to manage spills anywhere around the island.
“Keeping the water clean is a huge part of what we do here at Waterfront Ops,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Cain, an engineman and native of Sacramento, Calif. “The training not only allowssailors new to the unit to be familiarized with the boom and how our unit operates together, but helps them realize how important protecting the environment is to our mission.”