Reliant Gale exercise focuses on safety procedures
Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka conducted the 2013 Reliant Gale typhoon exercise during the week of April 22-26.
On board FLEACT, Yokosuka, the exercise was headquartered in the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and supported by centers throughout the base.
Reliant Gale’s purpose is to train naval installations in emergency preparedness and personnel accountability, evacuation and recovery operations from a catastrophic natural disaster.
According to U.S. Embassy officials, typhoon season in Japan runs from May through October.
Most typhoon activity occurs between July and September. The exercise purposefully coincides with typhoon season in Japan.
Additionally, typhoons that hit Japan are most often accompanied by damaging high tides.
“The importance of this exercise is to raise awareness and review disaster preparedness,” said Commander FLEACT, Yokosuka Capt. David A. Owen. “In this case, the event was a typhoon, which we average two to three per year here in Yokosuka.
“This is a great opportunity for the community to verify their emergency kits and know what to expect during such an event.”
People who live in areas close to the ocean are especially at risk. Landslides are also a serious concern during periods of heavy rain.
Conditions for landslides are particularly dangerous after rain has fallen at a rate of 20 mm or more an hour or when 100 mm of rain falls nonstop.
“The drill was designed to be an emergency disaster preparation function that focuses on what is needed during a disaster-oriented scenario,” said FLEACT Yokosuka Training and Readiness Officer, and exercise coordinator, Lt. David Johnston. “This is the opportunity for all to review check lists, communications and family readiness. This is also the chance for us to distribute information and train family members on what to expect during the course of an actual response.”
Once activated, the EOC and its staff coordinated typhoon condition of readiness efforts and emergency responses with base tenant commands. Announcements related to the exercise were broadcast by way of base media outlets, Channel 15 and Facebook posts.
Emergency vehicles were activated throughout the duration of the exercise. Simulations of accidents, such as flooding and oil spills were some of the main aspects of the weeks’ exercises.
Conducted with FLEACT, Sasebo and Naval Air Station Atsugi, tenant commands on board all three installations were encouraged to practice their internal typhoon readiness procedures.
“We are always looking for full participation by active duty as well as civilian personnel and their commands,” said Johnston. “Throughout the course of the week, we had an outstanding level of cooperation. I also felt that the public was good at looking for loose items in yards, such as lawn chairs, bicycles and so forth, which are potential hazards during a storm, so the sense of awareness was definitely there. There is always room for improvement no matter where you go, but this is always a natural continuing process with personnel and families transferring in and out of Japan, so constant training is always necessary.”
Once the drill was completed, Sailors and the chain of command had the opportunity to review lessons learned.
“This was my first drill of this scale and during it we used a lot of resources,” said FLEACT Yokosuka Deputy Training Officer, Chief Personnel man Michael Terry. “My job was to ensure that we had all the key players in place. I participated in a similar drill at USNH Yokosuka Hospital last year, but more was involved here. Along with us, the fire department, hospital, Fleet and Family Support Center and Safety all contributed to the overall success of this evolution.”
Family safety is a key contributor to Sailors’ abilities to focus on and perform their military obligations.
Because, knowing that the tenant commands on board FLEACT, Yokosuka will provide for their loved ones while most are more than likely deployed aboard ships helps offer them peace of mind.
“I think its’ a prudent move to use this exercise period not just to prepare for typhoons, but any potential disaster,” said Owen. “The April 19 issue of the Seahawk-Umitaka was dedicated solely to these issues. It includes check lists, actions to take, and plenty of vital information. It is a great tool towards preparedness and everybody should take advantage of it.”