By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan (April 3, 2017) – Thirty new apprentices and seven Engineering and Planning Development Program (EPDP) trainees came aboard Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) at an opening ceremony, held at Fleet Activities Yokosuka’s chief petty officer’s club.
The command’s leadership, including SRF-JRMC Commanding Officer Capt. Garrett Farman, Yoshinori Wada, the Yokosuka Defense Office Chief, Navy officials and senior employees, welcomed the trainees and ushered them in to a new chapter of their careers.
“To date, 764 apprentices have successfully completed the SRF-JRMC apprentice program,” Farman said in his celebratory remarks. “Last month, 19 impressive apprentices graduated after four years of rigorous training and challenges. Apprentices, you are the 34th apprentice group to enter the program. We are pleased and honored that you chose to start your new journey with us, continuing the SRF-JRMC legacy.”
Established in 1985, the apprentice program cultivates skilled shop workers in their specific trades. In contrast, the EPDP launched in 2015 and develops trained engineers and planners to complement an increasing demand for ship repair and maintenance work.
Through support and mentorship from senior employees, the trainees are expected to become full-fledged professionals.
In both programs, English lessons are mandatory to provide them with a practical command of the language, written, read and spoken. For the first year, apprentices spend four hours every workday studying. They will be using English daily with the command’s military service members, ship’s force and American civilian workers.
“Learning English is very important,” Farman said. “Because our technical documents are written in English, and it will help you communicate with the ships’ crews.”
“I studied machinery engineering in college,” said Kousuke Yamaguchi, a new ship pipefitter apprentice. “After that, I had a teaching position as an engineering faculty member at a local high school. I joined the apprentice program as I thought I could build upon my educational background and knowledge here.”
Chikako Ishii, a new ship electronic mechanic trainee, explained that she was nervous about being the only woman in the class this year. But drawing on her experience and her spirit of determination as a former police officer, she says, she hopes she can adapt to the environment soon.
“I have worked with gene-detecting devices and was involved in a project to make these devices smaller and more compact,” said Takumi Kato, a new EPDP trainee in the engineering and planning department. “I would like to make myself useful and utilize my knowledge in electrical wiring, electronics and electricity.”
“I was a politics major,” said Ryo Hasegawa, a new production control clerk, directly coming from college. “I studied humanities, but learned that this EPDP program supports us from the basics in engineering. That’s what I found the most attractive.
“I think my seniors are very friendly and the work environment looks nice. I am privileged. My seniors work with pride and dignity. In four years, I would like to be an exemplary engineer just like them.”
Per tradition, during the ceremony, each trainee received a hard-hat by their respective senior leader, before being shown to their new work sites.