By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) apprentices celebrated their graduation as journeymen at a formal ceremony held at Commander Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka’s Chief Petty Officer’s Club, March 4.
The ceremony honored 26 graduates of the command’s intensive and rigorous four-year training program.
“It is truly a privilege to be a part of today’s graduation ceremony,” said SRF-JRMC Deputy Commander Capt. Edward Katz in his remarks to the graduating apprentices. “You each have done an incredible job in completing your apprentice program. There are very few special occasions that hold as much honor and significance for you and for those who supported you along the way.
“It has been a tremendous four years of dedication and merit, both in the classroom, and at the waterfront. Together, you seized wonderful opportunities to apply your classroom knowledge to the real world.”
Department heads, division heads, families and other honored guests witnessed the apprentices receiving their certificates of completion. Apprentices who excelled in the program also received distinguished awards.
“It seems like [the program lasted] a long time, but it felt short,” said an apprentice graduate and ship mechanic, Shin Kawabata. “I know I still have a lot to improve, but I would like to continue working here for the rest of my life.”
Another apprentice graduate and welder, Kouji Shimane, shared the same sentiment with Kawabata. “I would like to grow together with my coworkers,” he said.
“From now on, you are SRF-JRMC’s superb journeymen, worthy of its reputation,” said Yokosuka Defense Office Ministry of Defense Chief Hisayuki Honda. “You will be a new driving force, observing the skills and traditions built by your senior workers.
“Last year, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) replaced USS George Washington (CVN 73). Other Aegis ships were deployed at Fleet Activities, Yokosuka. More than ever, SRF-JRMC journeymen are expected to show their high skills. Under these circumstances, I wish all of you success in working together with U.S. Navy service members and civilians.”
The apprentice graduation ceremony is one of the command’s honored and distinctive traditions. In light of the mid-1980s generational shift and workforce downturn, the apprentice program was established to meet the demand for skilled workers.
In addition to specialized training, apprentices are required to take English language lessons for four hours a day during the first year – 580 hours per year. This emphasis on English language helps apprentices develop proficient communication skills needed to interact daily with the U.S. Navy and civilian workforce.
“I would like to express our sincere appreciation to all of you for attending our graduation ceremony,” said new Carpenter Masumi Kujirai. “I had some difficult times, but those were good experiences and memories.”
“Today’s celebration is the effort of your continuous endeavor to learn and gain necessary skills,” said Machinery Group Master Masato Suzuki. “At the same time, it is the result of strenuous effort by the teachers, including the great support and cooperation of your supervisors and senior workers. I’d like to express my appreciation for the many dedicated teachers, instructors and supervisors who are involved in the SRF-JRMC apprentice program.”
“For more than 69 reputable years,” added Katz, “SRF-JRMC is, and always will be, a place of diverse interaction among strong and adept journeymen. In aligning our mission to ‘keep the 7th Fleet operationally ready,’ we continue to support and provide ship repair and maintenance to sustain maritime security.”