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Navy first responders hold active shooter drill in Seal Beach as part of national security exercise

Seal Beach drill
U.S. Navy Security Forces and Department of Defense firefighters carry a sailor during an active shooter drill Tuesday at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.
(Daniel Langhorne)

U.S. Navy personnel and Seal Beach police staged an active shooter scenario Tuesday at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach as the local component of a security exercise across all naval bases in the continental United States.

Navy security forces and Defense Department firefighters responded to a scenario involving a barricaded suspect with hostages at the command headquarters. The drill simulated how emergency personnel would respond if the base’s senior leaders were injured during an attack.

“We’ll critique ourselves pretty hard but just on face value, I think our guys did great,” said Capt. Jason Sherman, commanding officer for Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach. “I think this exercise is greatly important to exercising our security forces.”

During the training, Sherman was among three Navy personnel who sustained mock injuries from an attacker and were carried out of the headquarters building on stretchers by first responders.

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The Navy started annually holding Exercise Citadel Shield-Solid Curtain in 2007. but this year’s event follows fatal shootings at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Naval Air Station Pensacola that together left five people dead and nine injured.

“Safety is always important but it was brought into even closer focus after the recent shootings,” Navy spokesperson Gregg Smith said.

The Seal Beach naval base hasn’t endured a fatal shooting in at least 21 years, but a Dec. 16 barricade at a Navy residence prompted a response by Navy security forces and Seal Beach police. The unarmed suspect walked out of the home without injury to those involved, Smith said.

On any given day, about 700 sailors, Marines, civilian employees, employees, family members and retirees visit the naval weapons station, Smith said. The security force charged with protecting the base includes dozens of personnel supported by mutual aid agreements with the Seal Beach police and Orange County Sheriff’s departments.

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Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Spruance was docked at the Seal Beach ammunition pier for ordinance transfer operations Tuesday. Its crew didn’t participate in the active shooter training.

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