Enabling your ship to fight, move and FLOAT!

By Seaman M. Venter

If you've been to sea on a South African Naval (SAN) vessel you've probably gone through it, NBCD is a crucial part of sailing. NBCD is the abbreviation for Nuclear Biological and Chemical Damage control, which also includes Maritime Fire Fighting.

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When in the water it's best to form a circle and stay close to your buddies to stay warm.

Although you only freefall for about 2 seconds, it feels like a lifetime.

Countless sea-going members have passed through the hatches of the damage control and fire units. Irrespective if you've completed your part 1, part 2 or part 3 course, your efforts and that of your fellow sailors can save your ship from sinking into the aquatic depths of King Neptune's Kingdom.

The following is a breakdown of the purposes of the different NBCD courses:

Part 1
The Part 1 course equips the learner with the knowledge of the basic equipment, how to use it and how to follow orders.

Part 2
This course equips the learner with management skills and how to be a competent team leader.

Part 3
The Part 3 course exists to teach the learner to take command of and control teams conducting damage control or fire fighting exercises or when working against an actual threat.

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The damage control facilities create a very intense atmosphere for realistic training.

Square shoring is a tried and tested way of stopping a hole in the ship's hull from flooding the ship.

The facilitators and facilities at the NBCD school are also utilised by certain civil organisations as the course does have South African Maritime Safety Authority accreditation.

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All suited up, adrenaline pumping, places to go and fires to fight.


Black smoke emitting from the diesel fire that the Part 2 learners have to extinguish.

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Facilitator, Leading Seaman van der Poel watching on as the Part 2 learners continue with their chemical decontamination drill.

Congratulations and thanks go out to the facilitators and staff at NBCD school for providing the fleet with the necessary skills to save our ships and lives.