Dec. 31, 2020 —
Eyes burning. Vison blurry. Snot dripping. Instructors screaming. With all of these distractions after getting sprayed by oleoresin capsicum (OC), Sailors go through a course allowing them to practice taking down and defending themselves against attackers.
Sailors assigned to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) finished the security reaction force bravo (SRF-B) course by getting OC sprayed on Nov. 19 at Huntington Hall.
“Today, we are going through the OC portion of the course where we get OC sprayed from three feet away,” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Dylan Smith, assigned to the security department aboard George Washington. “After that, you go into a [mechanical advantage control hold] take-down, then you take your baton and go through the blocking portions, and head towards the ‘red man’ [mock aggressor]. Then you have to bring him down after defending yourself.”
OC spray has the same chemical make up as the more well know pepper spray, which is used for policing, riot control, crowd control, and self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears. The “red man” is a Sailor armed in red padding acting as an adversary on which trainees practice techniques.
The SRF-B course is required for Sailors to stand in-port security forces (ISF) watches and to be a part of George Washington’s first line of defense against threats.
“It feels good to finally go through this course and become part of the in-port security force,” said Smith. “I just had to ‘embrace the suck’ to get through the course and now I’m on my way to becoming a security watch-stander.”
Motivation and confidence are needed for Sailors to complete SRF-B. It is no simple task to complete this course and become part of George Washington’s ISF. George Washington hosts SRF-B courses quarterly to keep security department manned and ready to defend the ship when a casualty occurs.
“Today we are OC-spraying the SRF-B class which is made up of Sailors from many departments,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Michelle Martinez, the security department training petty officer aboard George Washington. “These Sailors have to complete a three-week bravo course in order to get qualified to come to security.”
The ISF is made up of Sailors from several departments on George Washington. After the departments send their selected Sailors to be part of ISF, the Sailors are screened to make sure they meet requirements such as physical and mental health in order to go through the training, and to eventually stand security watches on the ship.
“This course is a must,” said Martinez. “The biggest reason why we have to do this course is because it is mandated by the Navy. Why contaminate our own Sailors with OC? [Because] our forces need to know the effects of it in case they ever have to use it on somebody and accidentally contaminate themselves. They need to learn how to handle it and not quit on first sight.”
According to Smith, the training was a very rigorous process which some of the participants didn’t think they could get through; but, at the end of the day, they all got through it and graduated. Smith and the fellow Sailors in his SRF-B class are now the first line of defense on the ship, and they couldn’t be prouder.