First Annual Homer W. Carhart Award Presented

2/15/1996 - 10-96r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

LTJG Michael H. Rubel, Jr. was recently honored with the first annual Homer W. Carhart Award for exhibiting exceptional leadership and damage control skills during a major cableway fire on board the USS Gary in September 1995. The award was presented in November at the 13th annual Naval Operations (OPNAV) Damage Control Firefighting Workshop in Norfolk, Virginia, by Mr. Charles Bogner, director of the Ship Safety and Survivability Office, OPNAV (N86D). LTJG Rubel was unable to be attend the ceremony because of sea duty, however, a personal presentation to LTJG Rubel by VADM Robinson, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMNAVSURFPAC), was planned for a later date.

The Homer W. Carhart Award for Fire Protection Excellence was established by the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) in 1994 to recognize Navy Department personnel for superior achievement in the areas of safety and shipboard survivability excellence. Dr. Carhart is a senior scientist emeritus at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), having formally retired after over 50 years of service in the areas of safety, fire protection and shipboard survivability. Just prior to his appointment as Senior Scientist Emeritus, Dr. Carhart was head of the Navy Technology Center for Safety and Survivability at NRL. In a 1994 letter to Dr. Carhart, RADM M.S. Firebaugh, Chief Engineer of the Navy, stated, "This award will be presented annually in your name at the Damage Control/Firefighting Working Group Conference to the Navy Department civilian or military member who most exemplifies your professional standards and concern for shipboard safety. This award will perpetuate your devotion to the fire safety of the Fleet of the United States Navy."

LTJG Rubel was cited for "in-depth damage control knowledge and keen insight while leading a multi-ship damage control organization in successfully extinguishing the blaze. His quick thinking and inspirational leadership abilities were the catalyst in combatting a persistent fire for over five hours without injury to personnel." The nomination also credits LTJG Rubel with using a technique newly implemented in his damage control course of study by ordering and aggressively supervising the establishment of active desmoking of the buffer zone. As a result, spaces adjacent to the fire became cool, allowing repair party personnel to stage closer to the fire without suffering the effects of excessive heat. "This critical decision and timely implementation," states the nomination, "was responsible for the minimal heat stress experienced by fire party personnel despite the extreme temperatures in this main space fire." The new technique used by LTJG Rubel was developed by NRL aboard the ex-USS Shadwell, the Navy's fire test ship.

Immediately upon assuming duties as USS Gary's damage control assistant, LTJG Rubel developed and implemented a comprehensive damage control course of study, which exposed the entire crew to the latest damage control tactics. The nomination notes that, "through this course, LTJG Rubel has redefined the future of the Navy's basic damage control training. LTJG Rubel's innovative approach to damage control training resulted in superior knowledge that was key in extinguishing USS Gary's main space fire.

According to Carhart Award criteria established by the CNO, "this prestigious award will be presented to a Department of the Navy military or civilian member, assigned to an operational fleet unit, whose performance substantially embodies the following criteria: displaying meritorious performance in control or recovery from an afloat casualty involving explosion, fire, flooding or collision; developing or implementing formal recommendations regarding equipment, doctrine, tactics or training; authoring damage control firefighting, safety or survivability articles for publication in Navy media; submitting beneficial suggestions to improve safety at sea; demonstrating noteworthy efforts to develop Naval ship fire safety standards; participating in demonstrations tests or evaluations to expedite improvement to ship safety and survivability; and performing related duties with exemplary professionalism for a sustained period."

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