Spc. Brian McClure and Pvt. Sidney Little – 88K Watercraft Operator Course students – direct water toward flames in the fire training facility under the guidance of instructor Donald Jones during training April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Extinguishing the flames was the endpoint of instruction that started with learning protective equipment in classrooms; using hoses outdoors; and how to enter spaces with suspected fires. The training, which takes place at the Transportation School’s Maritime and Intermodal Training Department, is six weeks long.  Watercraft operators – along with the companion 88L watercraft engineers -- are the Army’s sailors but are commonly known as mariners.
Spc. Brian McClure and Pvt. Sidney Little – 88K Watercraft Operator Course students – direct water toward flames in the fire training facility under the guidance of instructor Donald Jones during training April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Extinguishing the flames was the endpoint of instruction that started with learning protective equipment in classrooms; using hoses outdoors; and how to enter spaces with suspected fires. The training, which takes place at the Transportation School’s Maritime and Intermodal Training Department, is six weeks long. Watercraft operators – along with the companion 88L watercraft engineers -- are the Army’s sailors but are commonly known as mariners. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – On an Army vessel, mariners operate under the precept “Everyone is a firefighter.”

It implies every able body must fully extend themselves during emergencies to save ship and crew at sea or otherwise.

Mariners-in-training at the Army Transportation School’s 88K Watercraft Operator Course rehearsed those lifesaving procedures and more during live-fire training exercises April 16 at a dedicated fire training facility on Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

“Firefighting is crucially important,” emphasized course instructor Sgt. 1st Class William Anderson. “If we don’t have proper shipboard firefighting skills in a situation where you are very isolated at sea, that ship’s going to go down and the crew’s chances of survival are very slim.”

Spc. Brian McClure inspects the oxygen tank of the self-contained breathing apparatus during 88K Watercraft Operator Course training April 16 at the Transportation School’s Maritime and Intermodal Training Department.
1 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Spc. Brian McClure inspects the oxygen tank of the self-contained breathing apparatus during 88K Watercraft Operator Course training April 16 at the Transportation School’s Maritime and Intermodal Training Department. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL
Unidentified students listen to hose-handling instruction during 88K Watercraft Operator Course training April 16 at the Transportation School’s Maritime and Intermodal Training Department.
2 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Unidentified students listen to hose-handling instruction during 88K Watercraft Operator Course training April 16 at the Transportation School’s Maritime and Intermodal Training Department. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL
Pvt. Benjamin Szulgit -- an 88k Watercraft Operator Course student -- grips the hose tightly during the hose-handling exercise portion of firefighting training April 16 at the Transportation School’s fire trainer.
3 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pvt. Benjamin Szulgit -- an 88k Watercraft Operator Course student -- grips the hose tightly during the hose-handling exercise portion of firefighting training April 16 at the Transportation School’s fire trainer. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL
Pvt. Benjamin Szulgit demonstrates the improper way to extinguish fires by manipulating the nozzle control to the lowest setting during watercraft operator firefighting training April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
4 / 4 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pvt. Benjamin Szulgit demonstrates the improper way to extinguish fires by manipulating the nozzle control to the lowest setting during watercraft operator firefighting training April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

The fledgling mariners – in the second week of the month-and-a-half-long military occupational specialty course – first spent time in the classroom learning how to wear protective gear and use the self-contained breathing apparatus.

“Then, we teach them how to perform procedures for hose-handling, door cooling and entry, and the proper procedures for entering our fire trainer,” said Rich Prevoznik, lead firefighting instructor.

The fire trainer – a two-level facility with stairs and several chambers – can generate smoke and flames resulting in temperatures up to 400 degrees. During the entry exercises, Soldiers are required to correctly don their gear, prepare hoses and other equipment, and gain access into dark, smoke-filled chambers where fires are burning.

The tasks look easier on paper than they are when actually performed, observed Pvt. Jacob Melcher, a native of Nashville, Tenn.

“Your anxiety and stress levels rise because you can’t see anything through the smoke,” he said, also describing the darkness as disorienting. “I was breathing fast and going through my oxygen tank really quick.”

Pfc. Benjamin Szulgit elaborated on the mental and physical demands of the exercise.

“For a lot of people, it was overcoming the fear of flames and not being able to see,” said the 21-year-old New Yorker. “On the physical side, it was overcoming the heat – the strain of wearing that heavy suit. Going in as a team made it a lot easier.”

Watercraft operator students - silhouetted against a smoky backdrop -- wait for further instructions on the upper level of the fire trainer during firefighter training April 16 at the Transportation School facility located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Watercraft operator students - silhouetted against a smoky backdrop -- wait for further instructions on the upper level of the fire trainer during firefighter training April 16 at the Transportation School facility located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL
A team of Soldiers enter the upper level chamber of the fire trainer to locate and extinguish flames during 88K Watercraft Operator Course training April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – A team of Soldiers enter the upper level chamber of the fire trainer to locate and extinguish flames during 88K Watercraft Operator Course training April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL
With the hose resting on her shoulder, Pvt. Sidney Little lowers herself into the chamber following team members during 88K watercraft operator firefighter training April 16 at the Transportation School, Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – With the hose resting on her shoulder, Pvt. Sidney Little lowers herself into the chamber following team members during 88K watercraft operator firefighter training April 16 at the Transportation School, Joint Base Langley-Eustis. (Photo Credit: T. Anthony Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL
Senior fire instructor Rich Prevoznik -- side-lit by a sliver of light from a partially-opened door -- briefs students on exercise specifics within the Transportation School’s fire trainer April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Senior fire instructor Rich Prevoznik -- side-lit by a sliver of light from a partially-opened door -- briefs students on exercise specifics within the Transportation School’s fire trainer April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL
Pvt. Sidney Little, an 88K Watercraft Operator Course student, listens to the brief with other students in the darkness of the fire trainer April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Little and her classmates would later don equipment to fight flames in smoke-filled, dark spaces with temperatures over 300-degrees.
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pvt. Sidney Little, an 88K Watercraft Operator Course student, listens to the brief with other students in the darkness of the fire trainer April 16 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. Little and her classmates would later don equipment to fight flames in smoke-filled, dark spaces with temperatures over 300-degrees. (Photo Credit: Terrance Bell) VIEW ORIGINAL

Pvt. Souleyman Drame had to endure the chamber entrance tasks twice due to breathing issues.

“I found out I had claustrophobia when it comes to wearing a mask in darkness,” said the 20-year-old Milwaukeean. “It caught me off guard. It really came down to not trusting the equipment and letting that overpower what I know in my head. When I went in the second and third time, it was cool to see myself overcome my fears and get through it.”

All of the 88K students – assigned to Echo Company, 266th Quartermaster Battalion –performed the training tasks to standard.

During the opening weeks of the Watercraft Operator Course, students learn other emergency procedures such as drown-proofing and man-over-board rescues. In the second half of the course, students learn core MOS tasks. Their training culminates with a field exercise that takes place on the Chesapeake Bay off the shores of Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story.

The course graduates an average of 144 students per year. The Transportation School is among the military training institutions aligned with the Combined Arms Support Command, headquartered at Fort Lee, the Army’s Sustainment Center of Excellence.