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USS Gary Celebrates New Year with Damage Control Olympics

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Guided-missile frigate USS Gary celebrated the New Year with its own Damage Control (DC) Olympics while conducting Counter Transnational Organized Crime (C-TOC) operations while assigned to U.S. 4th Fleet.

Divided into 12 four-man teams, Gary's Olympians were timed in several events including suiting up in full firefighting gear, aligning and using dewatering equipment, emergency egresses from main engineering spaces while blindfolded, as well as a final dash to dewater a 50 gallon trash can with buckets.

The winners of the competition were Gary's electronics technicians and were honored with a specially soldered fire hose nozzle. The team was comprised of Electronics Technician 1st Class Russell Shirk, Electronics Technician 2nd Class Joshua Turner, Electronics Technician 3rd Class Jeffrey Christiansen, and Electronics Technician Seaman Justin Davis.

"It was fun," said Turner. "We had some trouble the first day, but we took first in the egress and flaking out the fire hose and prepping our hose team to come out on top."

While all this was going on, the ship was busy conducting C-TOC operations. Gary's crew and her Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment (LEDET) conducted a boarding of a suspected drug trafficking vessel. While the sea state was extremely rough, the boarding team and those onboard Gary maintained station and conduct the boarding without incident.

"It felt good to successfully perform our mission. It's a good reminder of what we're doing out here," said Ensign Jeffrey Clayton, one of the boat officers during the boarding.

As the day wound down, the crew was treated to a roast pig feast provided by the ship's culinary specialists and galley. Chief Culinary Specialist Kalama Kramer used his "magic seasoning" to offer the crew something out of the ordinary to start off the New Year.

"I thought we rang in the New Year pretty well here. We rang it in style by chasing down the boat and topped it off well with that roast pig. It certainly was good for morale. It was a good one, with many more to come," said Chief Fire Controlman Jerry Sutherland.

Gary is homeported in San Diego, and is currently deployed to Central and South America and the Caribbean in support of Operation Martillo and U.S. 4th Fleet's mission, Southern Seas 2012.

Operation Martillo (Spanish for "hammer") is a U.S., European and Western Hemisphere partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. U.S. military participation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force South, a component of U.S. Southern Command.

Operation Martillo is part of the U.S. government's coordinated regional security strategy in support of the White House strategy to combat transnational organized crime and the U.S. Central America Security Initiative.

Article by Ensign Ian McConnaughey, USS Gary Public Affairs