Story and photo by Keiichi Adachi, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
U.S. Naval Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) celebrated the start of 2014 Jan. 10 with a traditional New Year’s ceremony and safety awards presentation, followed by a reception featuring traditional Japanese entertainment.
SRF-JRMC Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Ballou addressed the critical role SRF-JRMC plays in 7th Fleet’s mission. “The Navy could not sustain its all-important presence without our dedicated, forward deployed ships’ repair, maintenance and fleet technical support teams. It is our people, who recognize this and their role in our mission to ‘Keep the 7th Fleet Operationally Ready’, that make SRF-JRMC a fleet asset. The next step in the evolution of SRF-JRMC to becoming a repair activity that employs modern management tools and processes is project management, a process proven effective across a broad spectrum of industrial activities worldwide. Implementing Project Management across the waterfront has taken dedication, perseverance, and a great amount of teamwork. Although much work remains to realize the full benefit of this change, I am confident that we are on the right course.”
Guest speaker Shinichi Inami, Yokosuka Defense Office Chief, commented on SRF-JRMC’s motto, “Nandemo Dekimasu!” which translates to “We can do anything!” “I really like the SRF-JRMC motto and believe it has encouraged dedication among all employees, leading to a reputation of maintaining unparalleled skills and professionalism. I hope you will be closely united under Capt. Ballou’s leadership, and reliably and safely accomplish your duties this year as before.”
Reflecting on safety awareness is a long-standing tradition at SRF-JRMC’s New Year Ceremony. Ballou recognized eight shops with Annual Safety Awards for maintaining impressive, “Mishap Prevention” safety records for the past year. Takeo Matsumoto, the Rigger Shop Head, received an award for “Significant Improvements in Scaffolding Safety” on behalf of all Rigger Shop employees. Lastly, Masanobu Miyaji, the Rigger Shop Rigger, Foreman “C,” received an award for “making a positive impact in ensuring safe Lifting and Handling evolutions.””
The post-ceremony reception opened with a traditional Japanese lumberman work song, known as a kiyari, leading to cracking open a cask of sake with wooden mallets, or kagamiwari, followed by a toast to future SRF-JRMC success. Guests and SRF-JRMC employees enjoyed a variety of food and beverages, while a Taiko performance by “Yokosuka Takadajuku” provided traditional Japanese entertainment.
Vice Adm. Robert L. Thomas, Jr., Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, stated, “The ceremony was a great way to bring in the New Year and was filled with camaraderie between the SRF-JRMC team and all the members in attendance. Keeping the 7th Fleet operationally ready through repairs and maintenance is what you do best and the 7th Fleet is lucky to have such professionals at the ready. SRF-JRMC has done an outstanding job in 2013 and I fully expect nothing less for 2014.”
Junichi Aoyama, one of the Masters of Ceremony during the reception, stated, “People who attended seemed to have a good time. I really appreciate Capt. Ballou allowing us the opportunity to welcome the New Year together.”
Engineering and Planning Department Head Cmdr. Mitchell Perrett commented on the energy of SRF-JRMC employees. “I was stationed at SRF-JRMC several years ago and it is still the same. Everyone here is energetic and enthusiastic. I had a great time.”
Ballou concluded his speech, “In 2014, we will be taking on new challenges, including USS Curtis Wilbur’s Extended Docking Selected Restricted Availability (EDSRA), which will be the longest and largest availability that SRF-JRMC has ever executed, and the continued execution of the Extended Service Life Program during USS Blue Ridge Selected Restricted Availability (SRA). In addition, we are continuing our Strategic Plan with three Strategic Areas: 1) to provide our people the right knowledge, skills, and abilities to build confidence and gain responsibility, 2) to continuously improve our work processes to increase productivity, and 3) to continuously improve current and future ship maintenance and modernization capability. Thank you for attending today. I wish all of you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2014.”
The annual New Year’s Ceremony is a result of the hard work of the SRF-JRMC Friendly Society. Tadashi Miyahara, SRF-JRMC Friendly Society President stated, “Thank you Friendly Society members, committee members, Capt. Ballou, and U.S. military and civil service members for your generous support of this event.”