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Custom Fit CBRN Masks Protect Deployed Sailors

Image credit: Joshua Karsten

Specialists with Griffin Technologies fit 7th Fleet Sailors with chemical, biological and radiological masks and protective garments during a week-long customized fit session to ensure combat readiness and CBRN threat protection for the forward deployed staff.

Seventh Fleet sailors embarked on the forward deployed command and control ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) are required to be deployment ready at all times. The fit tests provide an assessment by analyzing each individual’s face size, breathing style and body size.

“You’re fitted prior to deployment so that the data goes back to the warehouse, gets consolidated and kits are built,” said Dave Singer, the chemical, biological and radiological individual protective equipment Far East coordinator. “Based on the numbers and sizes, we then add or reduce the number of kits required for that ship before they go on deployment.”

The custom-fit protective gear is an essential element to provide eye and respiratory protection for Sailors in the event of a chemical, biological and radiological threat. The mask is designed to protect from blister, nerve, choking and blood agents to include mustard gas, chlorine, sarin and a long list of other airborne contaminants.

The test consists of Sailors donning a gas mask then having a plastic hood placed over their heads while a simulated gas leaks into the hood. The sensors inside the hood and the mask then determine whether the gas has leaked or not.

“We do a series of tests based on actions you would do while wearing the mask from moving your head side-to-side to chewing gum, labored breathing to normal breathing,” said Singer. “All the tests are designed to mimic or recreate conditions you may encounter while wearing the protective equipment.”

The fit tests ensure Sailors get the right size for each individual’s protective equipment. Most ships are only equipped with calipers which give Sailors an idea of what size mask they need. For Sailors with smaller or larger than average bone structures, the increased accuracy of the customized fit tests helps certify that the mask fits properly.

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia- Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.

Article and image courtesy of Joshua Karsten, 7th Fleet Public Affairs, adapted for context and formatting by CBRNe Central.

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