Maintaining the Bonhomme Richard
Advancement Machine

The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) could be considered one immense machine with many other machines within. These "machines" give us water, supply us heat, cook our meals and propel the ship forward.

But there is one machine that propels our Sailors' careers forward as well; the Bonhomme Richard Advancement Machine (BAM).

BAM was created in response to Bonhomme Richard Sailor's desire for an opportunity to better prepare for advancement examinations. It provides the crew with an hour every Friday for dedicated in-rate training in their work centers.

"When I received word of the crew's desire, the creative process of BAM took place," said Senior Chief Navy Counselor Latonya Luter. "The name I came up with was the Bonhomme Richard Advancement Academy, but in keeping with the commanding officer's explosive personality and energy, the name took on the creative spin of the Bonhomme Richard Advancement Machine. Sailors asked and 'BAM', they got it."

This provides departments a dedicated and ship-wide time to train their Sailors without interruption or distraction.

"We always know we're having BAM on Friday so I ask the Sailors what they want to learn on Monday," said Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class C.J. Anderson, Deck Department's training petty officer. "When Friday rolls around, I can have all that information prepared and have time devoted to training on it, which is a major contribution to Sailors getting advanced."

That advancement and training information, for any rate, is available online for Sailors to use for individual study, as well as departmental training.

"The bibliography for advancement and the topics and sub-topics that Sailors can expect on the advancement examination are the primary tools and can be downloaded from Navy Knowledge Online (NKO) or from the Command Career Counselor (CCC) folder on our network computers," said Luter. "Additionally, leaders can utilize the bibliography references to provide hands-on training to their Sailors. Some Sailors can read reference material for long periods of time and still have difficulties with advancement exams; however, having practical application improves the retention of information."


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USS Bonhomme Richard

Work centers use the allotted time to coach their Sailors and enhance the ship's overall warfighting capability.

"It's a set time so there are no excuses not to study," said Machinery Repairman 2nd Class Veronica Cooley, machine shop leading petty officer. "We are always focused on something else and BAM is the one time a week we can focus on ourselves and get ourselves to the next level of proficiency. It not only helps with advancement, but betters the ship as a whole."

Between seeing patients at medical, landing aircraft on the flight deck or performing maintenance on the many machines of Bonhomme Richard, Sailors taking the time to maintain the Bonhomme Richard Advancement Machine is an important part of maintaining warfighting readiness.

Bonhomme Richard is currently underway in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations and is a part of the Bonhomme Richard Amphibious Ready Group (ARG). It is tactically controlled by Capt. Heidi Agle, commodore, Amphibious Squadron 11, and reports to Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet, Rear Adm. Hugh Wetherald, headquartered in White Beach, Okinawa, Japan. Surface Warfare Magazine

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