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USS Trayer Disaster Simulator

USS Trayer Disaster Simulator

USS Trayer Disaster Simulator At Naval Station Great Lakes - Battle Station 21

The USS Trayer is the most advanced, realistic and ambitious disaster simulator in the world.

Housed inside a new $82 million facility, the 210 foot long replica of an Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyer rises above the 90,000-gal. pool of water at Battle Station 21.

uss trayer naval simulator

USS Trayer Naval Simulator

Designed to recreate the intense environment of an attack at sea, the $56 million USS Trayer prepares recruits to deal with situations such as missile attacks, fires and flash floods. The simulations provides stress inoculation so when sailors encounter real life catastrophes, they’ll be better trained to handle it.

The experience is also mean to help the sailors bond, transforming men and women recruits into real sailors.

Michael Belanger, the program’s senior psychologist explained:

“It’s like learning a language by immersing someone in a culture We are making sailors by immersing them in Navy culture.”

Five days of the week the USS Trayer bears the brunt of multiple enemy missile attacks that result in simulated deaths, injuries and damage. For this reason, the USS Trayer has been dubbed “the unluckiest ship in the Navy.”

boarding uss trayer disaster simulator

Boarding the USS Trayer

“The Trayer’s DNA comes from theme parks,” says Scott Barnes, a civilian engineer who oversees the backstage operations.

On the pier, fans are used to recreate wind; wave machines transform the calm pool into rough waters; scent machines recreate the smell of the sea; and there’s even artificial guano spattered here and there, to offer that extra touch of realism.

On board, smoke machines pump out an aerosol of glycol that looks like smoke but doesn’t damage the lungs; strobe lights mimic the flickering of electrical fires; sub woofers vibrate under the floor to simulate explosions; heating pads simulate the high temperatures caused by raging fires; and electrically heated oils produce the smell of burning wires.

To build this “ship-in-a-bottle,” the Navy brought in experts from around the fleet, including Master Chief James Parlier.

Master Chief Parlier served as the USS Cole’s top enlisted officer in 2000 at the time of an al-Qaeda terrorist attack. His office was just a short distance away from the blast, as a medical corpsman for 21 years, he played a key role in saving the ship and its crew.

This three day struggle is often cited as the inspiration for the development of the USS Trayer. Master Chief Parlier went on to serve as the Command Master Chief of Great Lakes during the construction of Battle Stations 21.

navy uss trayer

USS Trayer Disaster Simulator

Jeff Wise from Popular Mechanics was lucky (or unlucky) enough to spend a night on the USS Trayer, in his own words he described the experience:

“It’s impossible to see more than a few feet through the thick smoke, but what I can make out is bad enough. The deck has buckled upward, and fragments of tables and chairs lie piled among broken steel beams. Sporadic flashes of light illuminate a severed half-body dangling from a pyramid of debris that reaches to the ceiling. Trapped and wounded men are calling out from all around, their moans punctuated by the groan of twisting, ruptured metal. I’m on my knees, doubled over, struggling with the weight of a stretcher as I maneuver under a fallen piece of wreckage. Our ship has just taken a direct hit from an enemy missile, and my teammates and I have to extricate as many casualties as possible from the impact zone.”

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