SAN DIEGO – Crew members of the guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69) are also taking the opportunity to prepare themselves for an extended deployment to the Western Pacific with assistance from the Navy’s Center for Language, Regional Expertise and Culture (CLREC).
Milius is scheduled to depart its homeport of San Diego in 2017 and be forward deployed to operate out of Yokosuka, Japan for an extended period of time.
“Preparing our Sailors and their families for the transition to Japan is a mission,” said Cmdr. Gil Ayan, Milius’ commanding officer. “We plan to arrive there with a crew that understands the culture and language, and is ready to represent the United States in the best manner possible.”
The classes are offered every week on site while Milius is undergoing an extended maintenance availability in BAE shipyards in San Diego. CLREC instructors teach from a curriculum that focuses on more than just language skills. Culture and societal norms are emphasized, as well.
Lt. j. g. Sarah Bull, Milius’ fire control officer, spearheaded the effort to make these lessons a reality for the crew.
“When I was put in charge of finding a language training solution, I could not have been happier,” said Bull. “I truly feel the Sailors will gain an unparalleled appreciation for the Japanese language and culture, which will vastly improve their quality of life once they move to Japan.”
Bull said the response to the classes among Milius crewmembers was immediate and enthusiastic. Of the crew who will be on board when the ship moves to Japan, more than 60 percent is participating in the voluntary course.
“I feel like this training is giving me a real benefit in terms of how prepared I’ll be when we get to Japan,” said Interior Communications Technician Second Class Madison Watts.
According to Bull, these classes are just the first step to prepare Milius for its extended departure from the U.S. Upon completion of the first course, Milius will re-evaluate the needs of its Sailors and work with CLREC to create a beginner’s Japanese course for new check-ins as well as a second advanced course for those looking to enhance their language skills.
“It’s an important mission,” Ayan emphasized. “We’ve established a culture on Milius where families are a priority, and this is another way to help prepare them for this move and open up the lines of communication early for support.”
In addition to preparing its current crew, Milius is also creating Japanese-specific educational materials that will be sent to Sailors who receive orders to the ship and will be included in welcome aboard packages prepared by the destroyer’s sponsorship coordinator.
“The Navy has given us plenty of notice regarding this move, now it’s up to us to ensure our Sailors and families are ready to succeed once we arrive,” said Ayan. Milius is a multi-mission ship with Anti-Air Warfare, Anti-Submarine Warfare and Anti-Surface Warfare capabilities designed to operate independently or with a Carrier Strike Group. They returned to San Diego in June 2015 from an extended Ballistic Missile Defense Western Pacific and U.S. 5th Fleet.