By Ryo Isobe, FLEACT Yokosuka Public Affairs
YOKOSUKA, Japan – Japan Maritime Self-Defense Forces (JMSDF)’s junior officers and officials completed a ship repair process training at Ship Repair Facility and Japan Regional Maintenance Center (SRF-JRMC) and received certificates, March 8, 2017. The lecture-based training aims to provide JMSDF personnel a general snapshot of the ship repair processes via SRF-JRMC.
JMSDF is the naval branch of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, led by the country’s Ministry of Defense, and engaged in self-defense and international peacekeeping operations. SRF-JRMC provides ship maintenance and modernization for Commander, Naval Forces Pacific and U.S. Pacific Fleet using advanced industrial techniques while keeping the U.S. 7th Fleet operationally ready.
“If I am allowed to express it simply, SRF’s process is very ‘deep,’” said Lt. Yuichi Yoshihara, the chief of the logistics planning section in Maritime Materiel Command’s ship systems planning division. “Repair instructions here are comparatively detailed and technical in terms of what and how they do the repair. I was deeply impressed at the depth and range of knowledge of planners here.”
This year, one lieutenant and two officials from the Maritime Materiel Command, two lieutenants and one official from its subsidiary facility, Yokosuka Ship Supply Depot, visited SRF-JRMC once a week for a month.
Participants also learned about the command’s ship repair processes, including quality assurance, business contracts, waterfront operations, IT systems, design and engineering, planning and estimating, and supply and logistics.
“At JMSDF, our idea on supply work is that it should precisely meet the demand,” said Misako Murakami, a defense official from Yokosuka Ship Supply Depot’s supply division. “As a result we keep items in inventory for a long time. Here, I found SRF’s supplies are always circulating and older supplies are replaced with the newer ones. It is interesting.”
However, Lt. Masafumi Murakami, also from the depot’s ship supply division, drew similarities between the two facilities.
“Our facility is becoming more like [SRF-JRMC],” Murakami said. “I find that we have similar processes. I think standardization is occurring worldwide. I visited here once before, but now I have deepened my knowledge about SRF-JRMC.”
The last day of training included a shop and waterfront tour of SRF-JRMC. Tadashi Miyahara, SRF-JRMC’s production control engineer from the waterfront operations department, gave a brief on waterfront operations before the tour.
“One of SRF-JRMC’s advantages is that they are very flexible,” Miyahara said. “Usually it takes a while before the work actually starts as it involves planning, material supply and contracting. We are capable of preparing them in a shorter period of time and meet our customers’ demand.”
During the tour, they visited a variety of shops and a dry dock where a cruiser was dry-docked. Hiroshi Aoki, the head quality assurance engineer, also supported and guided the participants.
According to Aoki, SRF-JRMC’s training for JMSDF officers dates as far back as 2002. At that time, SRF-JRMC and JMSDF coordinated a separate training called the Officer Exchange Program, where SRF-JRMC’s U.S. junior Navy officers visited JMSDF, and JMSDF officers visited SRF-JRMC. This program took place in a six-month period.
In time, this program was reduced to an annual one-and-a-half-month training, where two JMSDF engineering duty officers study at the command.
“The security relationship between the United States and Japan has been strengthening day by day,” Aoki said. “We should have more training of this kind to ensure security in the Asian region. Since this training is particularly focused on leadership development for young JMSDF officers, I hope they will make the most of their experience here in the future.”