MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT -- Marines and civilians with Aircraft Rescue & Firefighting, Marine Wing Support Squadron 273 & Air Station fuels sections and the Natural Resources Environmental Affairs Office completed a week-long Facility Response Team course increasing proficiency in nautical spill response procedures aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, July 14-17.
The course enabled the students to evaluate environmental and nautical conditions and tactics in order to hastily respond to an oil spill in the waterways leading to MCAS Beaufort.
“It’s a five-day FRT class to requalify and qualify as Facility Response Team responders,” said Charles Herron, the course instructor and native of Charleston. “They walk away with the basic knowledge of how to respond to a spill properly, and the class provides them with information and training that is site specific.”
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort encompasses over 7,000 acres of land in the South Carolina Lowcountry where the area is known for its agricultural wealth, history and natural beauty.
“The base is a unique setting, it handles a lot of fuel surrounded by a pristine environment so whenever there’s a threat, a facility response team is trained up and ready to go,” said Herron. “You learn to take responsibility for spills that may occur at your facility and do what you can for immediate and effective cleanup.”
The course trained the students on proper executing a spill contingency plan, hazmat training and use of equipment to control and contain any contamination over water.
“We learned different formations and boats we need to use to contain a fuel spill,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua Nelson, a 20-year-old Aircarft Rescue and Firefighting specialists and native of Dallas, Texas. “We can use a skimmer and booms to contain, divert and pick up some of that oil.”
The skimmer, a boat equipped with an oil recovery system, helps filter oil contamination in the water and is one of many assets in the Air Station’s arsenal for protecting the waterways.
“Part of Marine Corps mission to not leave a big footprint,” said Herron. “You need to have some people trained up and ready to respond, this area is pristine and needs to be protected.”
Due to their expertise in protecting the environment and responding to critical situations, a majority of the course was occupied by Marines with the Air Station’s ARFF section.
“Before I wasn’t familiar at all with fuel on the water but now I’m more proficient,” said Nelson. “[Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting] already responds to spills on the flight line so I couldn’t see anyone else who would be better for this training."
According to the air station’s fuel division, the primary method of fuel delivery for the air station is via barge over the waterways, making the training not only essential but proactive for any Air Station emergency situation.
“The air station can feel more secure whenever we have barges coming in and feel content knowing that they have someone here that’s trained to deal with any situation that may come,” said Nelson.
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is dedicated to protecting present and future military mission readiness and capabilities through effective and efficient environment management. As part of this policy, the air station conserves both natural and cultural resources as vital Marine Corps assets.