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Damage-control tactics in extreme stability situations.

"General quarters, general quarters ... All hands man your battle stations ...."

That's what you'd hear if your ship or submarine ran aground. Such scenarios are unlikely, but would your crew be prepared to combat damage and correct fatal stability situations at the same time if a grounding did occur? Would you know where to do research if you didn't know the answer?

The grounding of a CG and a collision between an LPD and an SSN highlight the importance of maintaining ship stability in extreme situations. Many publications are available to assist a ship's damage-control assistant (DCA) and the damage-control organization in keeping a ship afloat in extreme situations. In particular, NTTP 3-20.31 (Surface Ship Survivability), Chapter 5, guides ship actions during such crises. Information also can be found in the ship-specific Damage Control (DC) book, Section II A; NSTM, Chapter 079, Vol. 1, Stability and Buoyancy. This reference provides stability calculations and the effects of flooding, in addition to methods used to improve the ship's stability while combating battle damage.


Here are other publications that provide further insight:

* NSTM, Chapter 096, Weights and Stability

* NSTM, Chapter 997, Docking Instructions and Routine Work in Dry Dock

* Repair Party Manual

Besides helping the DCA to correct stability issues, these references help prepare and train the crew. Groundings and collisions are rare, but crews nevertheless should prepare for such events.


Another device that can be used as training support for the DCA is flooding casualty-control software (FCCS), which was released to the fleet in 2000 and has undergone many changes since--the latest revision occurring in 2008. FCCS is the premier shipboard load-management and stability-evaluation tool.

Here is what FCCS is designed to do:

* Calculate and evaluate the ship's attitude, hydrostatic properties, stability and strength status

* Model a ship's loads (dry loads, liquid loads, ice loads, crane lifts, wind loads) and track them over time

* Evaluate the effects of flooding on stability and strength

* Evaluate longitudinal strength in various sea states

* Evaluate the effects of structural damage on longitudinal strength

* Provide warnings and recommendations when the vessel fails required stability or strength criteria

* Evaluate stability and bottom reaction forces during vessel stranding

* Calculate stability during a dry-docking evolution

* Calculate the effect of opening and closing the well-deck door

* Provide rigorously tested recommendations through the intelligent decision aid (IDA) for liquid-load modifications that can improve the stability and/ or residual strength of the vessel

FCCS is ship-specific. Based on your ship's current inclining experiment, FCCS will provide optimal stability recommendations. [Note: An "inclining experiment" consists of moving known weights certain specified distances across the deck and recording the angles of heel produced. The data then are used to calculate the vertical position of the center of gravity.] Once received from ComNavSeaSysCom, the program should be validated through a comprehensive weight-verification walk-through. The DCA is responsible for validating FCCS and taking measures to ensure it's as accurate as possible. Without an adequate verification walkthrough, FCCS will produce invalid results. We recommend you verify it before getting underway, while the ship is fully loaded and pierside.

ALTHOUGH EXTREME situations are rare, you frequently should consult the available tools and publications. Consider making an FCCS operator billet for general quarters. How would that aid decision-makers with stability considerations? As professional DC personnel, your duty is to encourage the entire crew to understand and practice proper corrective actions, even in the most extreme of stability situations.

The DCA is responsible for all efforts in combating shipboard casualties by applying specific knowledge and focused training. Stability issues caused by extreme events endanger the entire crew, regardless of the level of training. Extreme stability situations will require an all-hands effort to contain.

By taking proactive steps and using available tools, crews will be more able to combat damage that potentially may sink a ship. Don't be a statistic. Don't be unaware of your options when your ship has experienced abnormal stability situations. Train on the deadly consequences of ship grounding, stranding and collision to quickly and effectively eliminate responder confusion.

Contact the author at 757-445-2669 (DSN prefix 565) with any questions, comments or concerns about this article. For FCCS comments or questions, contact Mr. John Rosborough, FCCS technical POC, at 301-227-5392 (DSN prefix 287).

By Lt. Jason T. Plumley, USCG, SWOS LS Norfolk
COPYRIGHT 2009 U.S. Naval Safety Center
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:FOCUS
Author:Plumley, Jason T.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2009
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