USS NEW ORLEANS, At sea
–- Sailors deployed aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) started the first semester of college courses with the ship’s Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE) program, Nov. 15.
NCPACE is a tuition-free program sponsored by the Navy College Office, and offers distance-learning courses to Sailors while the ship is deployed, as well as when it’s homeported.
The courses are self paced and students only have to cover the cost of the books and distance-learning DVDs.
“We have a completion rate of more than 92%,” said Ensign Jessica Alabata, New Orleans’ Educational Service Officer. “When a Sailor enrolls in a course, they usually stick with it, even if a deployment gets tough they usually can get through it.”
Alabata also said that Sailors who take part in the program usually return for another semester.
“I’ve already had ten Sailors ask me about signing up for the February term, and I expect more to ask me about it,” she said.
Yeoman 1st Class Kenneth Bradley, who had taken college courses prior to enlisting in the Navy, said that NCPACE offers a quality education.
“This is just as a real as any college course at a university,” he said. “It puts the responsibility on the student to have self-initiative to study what they’re supposed to study and get the learning objectives.”
Bradley emphasized that all Sailors should pursue their education while in the Navy.
“The Navy came up with the program for people who are deployed, so Sailors don’t have excuses for not furthering their education,” he said. “Education is your legacy, and you should never have an excuse to not go to school.”
New Orleans is assigned to Amphibious Squadron 5, and along with embarked Marines assigned to the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, deployed Nov. 14 as part of the Makin Island Amphibious Readiness Group.
Commissioned in 2007, New Orleans is the second of the San Antonio-class transport dock ships. Its warfighting capabilities include a state-of-the-art command and control suite, substantially increased vehicle lift capacity, a large flight deck, and advanced ship survivability features that enhance its ability to operate in the littoral environment.