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PACIFIC OCEAN (August 28, 2023) Ens. Conor Backhaus, from Omaha, Nebraska, assigned to the forward-deployed amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay (LPD 20), participates in small boat operations during a man overboard drill, August 28. Green Bay is operating in the 7th Fleet area of operations. U.S. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet, and routinely interacts and operates with allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Cavenaile)

Pacific Ocean. (September 10, 2023): These chilling words reflect one of the darkest fears of a Sailor at sea, falling overboard undetected while your mates proceed without you. In this photo by MC2 Matthew Cavenaile, Ensign Conor Backhaus, from Omaha, Nebraska, and his comrades conduct man overboard drills from the amphibious transport dock ship USS Green Bay. With thousands of Sailors at sea, the American Navy takes “Man Overboard” drills very seriously.

Sailors are taught to shout 'man overboard' until the entire crew is aware of the situation. The person who sees the man overboard should maintain eye contact as long as possible, noting distance and speed from the vessel. A lifebuoy is released, the position is marked by GPS, and a buoyant smoke flare is fired. If the person is close to the ship, flotation equipment is  lowered in their direction.

These small boat drills test communications between the bridge, deck crew, and the rescue boats while they coordinate with other vessels in the vicinity. Their skill and coordination could very well save the life of a Sailor lost at sea.