SAN DIEGO – Bringing a brand new ship to life requires more than just the basics. It requires that Sailors at all levels know their job inside and out. This means Sailors need on-the-job-training (OJT) to become proficient at what they do.
A vital part of ship’s training, OJT allows Sailors arriving from ‘A’ School more practical experience. For others, they may have spent their previous tour working out of rate, or on a different platform, and need a refresher. Sailors of the future USS Tripoli (LHA 7) continue preparing for ownership of the Navy’s newest amphibious assault ship through OJT at other installations and aboard other warships.
For some rates, OJT can be accomplished almost anywhere, while others require specific locations and equipment. For many of Tripoli’s Sailors, being sent to a temporary assigned duty, or TAD, can fulfill many of the requirements needed.
“When we do crew move aboard, we are going to be expected to get certified and do our jobs,” said Tripoli’s Training/ TAD Coordinator, Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Scott Kramer. “Since we are sending them out to different locations to actually do their jobs, it keeps their in rate skills and learning processes sharp.”
Sailors from Tripoli are assigned all over Naval Base San Diego depending on which commands can accommodate them, and what would benefit both Tripoli and the Sailor. Sometimes that means going to another command in the area, while other times it means being sent to other ships along the San Diego waterfront.
“I’ve had four TAD orders. First one was USS Portland (LPD 27), I was there for two months. After that I was on USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), then USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and now since April, I’ve been TAD to USS America (LHA 6),” said Culinary Specialist Seaman Apprentice Nicholas Powers. “I’m learning more about my rate. The different ways we do things in the wardroom and the main galley.”
In addition to Culinary Specialists, Sailor’s from Tripoli’s Engineering Department have headed out to the waterfront to put their hands on some of the equipment they will work with their entire careers. Electrician’s Mate Fireman Anthony Quiroz said, “For the past eight months I was TAD to USS Makin Island (LHD 8). It was very beneficial. I got to see everything hands on for the first time. I got to work with everything from big switchboards down to a temperature probe.” Engineering isn’t alone as Sailors from every one of Tripoli’s departments sends Sailors on TAD assignments.
The ship’s crew gets larger every day, growing to 700 Sailors. Providing them with OJT opportunities comes with its own unique challenges with a pre-commission strength as large as Tripoli.
When asked about these challenges, Kramer responded by saying that the largest challenge the command faces is finding places where the training will be applicable to Tripoli and finding commands that can actually support the amount of Sailors needing training. Kramer said the command works to ensure that the TAD location provides a good match to the skills each Sailor will need onboard Tripoli. “But mainly it’s finding places that can support that amount of Sailors,” said Kramer.
“The number one goal for the command is to make sure every Sailor is ‘all up’ and fully qualified when we do move aboard,” said Kramer.
OJT is just another step on the long road to bringing the Tripoli to life. The special opportunity afforded to the Sailors of Tripoli gives them the chance to learn their jobs firsthand in an actual environment so they are ready for next step, putting it all together when Tripoli goes out to sea.
In the next issue, Tripoli Sailors head out to sea to put their OJT to use during underway periods onboard ships from the waterfront, some experiencing life at sea for the first time.