By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
(YOKOSUKA, Japan) — Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) welcomed aboard 15 new apprentices earlier this month.
The new apprentices comprise of the 32nd class to attend the Yokosuka Apprentice Program.
“You are here today, because we see great potential in each of you,” said SRF-JRMC Commanding Officer Capt. Garrett Farman addressing the new apprentices at the ceremony Oct. 2, 2015. “You’ve been selected from a competitive pool of applicants for [this program],”added Farman.
To date, 719 highly skilled workers have completed the program and carried on SRF-JRMC’s legacy of experienced craftspeople. Farman also emphasized English language skills in the command: “Learning English is very important, because our technical documents are written in English, and it will help you communicate with the ships’ crews.”
Over the next four years, the apprentices will receive intensive training in the skills of their selection, such as Shipfitter (X11), Sheetmetal Worker (X17), Welder (X26), Temporary Services (X99) and Diver (C338).
Since its establishment in 1947, SRF-JRMC has been maintaining, modernizing and repairing the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet ships. It boasts a great number of specialized people for that purpose. In the 1980s, however, they began to reach the age of retirement and a generational change took place.
In 1985, the SRF-JRMC Apprentice Program was launched to create and nurture a pool of resourceful workers for the next ship repair generation. The program was modeled from similar programs established in other U.S. Navy shipyards. It has met the demand for experienced personnel ever since.
“You are expected to be a part of SRF’s newest and powerful generation,” said Mechanics Group Master Masato Suzuki during the ceremony.
Once admitted, the apprentices begin orientation programs, such as security measures, continuous improvement, typing and computer operations. They are also required to take English lessons for four hours a day in the first year, a sum total of 580 hours per year. If they desire further education, they can take more training in the year after.
The apprentices will learn their selected trade through on-the-job training under a senior worker’s guidance and will prepare them for any required certification exams. They will also study theories and concepts with respect to SRF-JRMC’s capabilities. Upon graduation from the training, they will be deemed “journeymen.”
“I wish all of you the best in your development into superb journeymen (craftspeople)” said distinguished guest, Yokosuka Defense Office of the Ministry of Defense, Chief Hisayuki Honda at the ceremony. “After four years of training, you will be huge support to the Seventh Fleet. Encourage and help each other, and live through your new motto ‘Nan Demo Dekimasu’ [we can do anything].”
The ceremony made a huge impression on the new apprentices.
“I’m proud that I’m a part of the long tradition of SRF,” said Kenichi Sano, one of the apprentices from Insulation Shop (X57). “I’d like to succeed the legacy of SRF to become a talented worker.”
Kohei Kudo, another apprentice from Welding Shop (X26) has long been interested in ships. “I’ve always wanted to work on ships in some way,” he said. “I’d like to graduate with the highest honor and become a responsible senior in the future.”
“I want to apply myself as best as I can,” said Shigeaki Kadota, an apprentice diver from Dive Locker (C338). “I will give it all I got.”
At the end of the ceremony, Waterfront Operations Officer Cmdr. Mitchell Perrett and Production Officer Lt. Cmdr. Shaun Hayes presented the apprentices with their first hardhats to welcome them safely into the program.
SRF-JRMC provides shipboard maintenance and modernization for Commander, Naval Forces Pacific and U.S. Pacific Fleet using advanced industrial techniques while keeping the Seventh Fleet operationally ready.