By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Yokosuka Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) honored five retiring Japanese employees for their dedicated service to the command during a farewell ceremony at the command’s production conference room, June 29, 2016.
These retirees helped keep the U.S. 7th Fleet operationally ready by providing command support, ship maintenance and modernization for Commander, Naval Forces Pacific and U.S. Pacific Fleet.
“Today, it is our distinct pleasure to pay tribute to five of our most valued employees as they complete their long and distinguished careers at [SRF-JRMC],” said SRF-JRMC Commanding Officer Capt. Garrett Farman. He added that the retirees’ combined service to the command totaled more than 151 years.
“Your departure will be challenging for those of us who will carry on your work,” Farman said. “It will be very difficult to replace your skills, knowledge and devotion.”
One of the retirees, Noriko Matsuda, was an interpreter and translator for the security office at the command. She looked back at her career with fondness and satisfaction over what she had accomplished during her 32 years of service: “My work has always been diverse and multifaceted. When I started working here, SRF-JRMC looked like a man’s world. Today, however, there are a lot of skilled and highly-graded female workers who play active roles.”
Matsuda worked as a stock control clerk, then as an administrative specialist, an administrative clerk and eventually a duty travel clerk. Her final position during her SRF journey was interpreter-translator.
Farman also recognized a retiring accountant from the command’s Comptroller department, Kumiko Charron. “Charron-san has been a great mentor and role model to all,” he said. “She has always been willing to share her extensive financial knowledge. Her outstanding support and dedication to the job has earned the respect and admiration of her many co-workers, customers and others she has come into contact.”
Also acknowledged by Farman was a ship rigger from SRF-JRMC’s lifting and handling operations division, Takeo Iwasa. He worked at the command for almost two and half decades, starting his career as a crane operator and then transitioned to the ship rigger position.
Iwasa explained how it changed over the years: “As a ship rigger, we used to use a number of chain hoists for different weights. Nowadays, however, we use special equipment called lifters, which enables easier shaft removal. I appreciate that I reached my retirement today.”
Calibration Shop Head and Supervisory Engineering Technician Naofumi Yamamoto shares a similar sentiment of gratitude to the command: “I really appreciate SRF-JRMC’s support in my completion of several Naval Sea Systems Command certifications. [Because of this,] I could provide services like ship-board instrumentation system calibration both for Yokosuka and Sasebo vessels.”
After temporarily working at with U.S. Naval Air Systems Command Calibration Laboratory at Naval Airforce Facility Atsugi, and the command’s electronics shop, Yamamoto dedicated more than three decades to SRF-JRMC since he transferred in 1987.
Another retiree was Shuuji Okazaki, a pipefitter and foreman A, who contributed more than 36 years of service to the command. Okazaki joined the pipe and coppersmith shop as a trainee pipefitter in 1980 and then progressed to foreman A in 1994. Farman described him as an exemplary manager who took on challenges with distinct professionalism.
“My happiest memory at SRF-JRMC is when we fixed the galley of the USS Blue Ridge,” Okazaki said. “The captain of the ship invited all of us to lunch, and we had a good time together.”
Following the ceremony, the retirees and their family members and coworkers boarded a shuttle bus to tour the shops and command facilities one last time. At the shops, coworkers threw colorful paper streamers toward the bus to celebrate and bid their farewells.