Shipyard Management Class Bolsters Asia-Pacific Cooperation

Friday, August 18, 2006
By Marshall Fukuki, Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard Public Affairs

Eleven naval officers from Bahrain, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Ireland, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand are attending the six-week course for international shipyard management at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (PHNSY). The course, which began July 31, is designed to familiarize them with various management concepts about the efficient, economical and environmentally sound operation of a naval shipyard. But the course does more than simply prepare these officers: It also supports high-priority efforts to build alliances and cooperation through the Asia-Pacific region.

Robert Sonoda of PHNSY's Business and Strategic Planning Office, which sponsors this course, said, “We are proud to support national and fleet efforts to strengthen alliances and partnerships with other countries. The Shipyard has been uniquely suited and well-regarded in carrying out this specialized tasking in support of its fleet mission over the past decade.” The first class at the shipyard was in 1995. The course is managed and funded by the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity, which coordinates all requests from foreign countries for Navy training. Sonoda heads the shipyard division tasked as the lead office for the course. To provide the best training available, selected subject matter experts teach different portions of the course while minimizing any impact to ongoing planning and production efforts, he said. Navy lawyers instruct on the legal aspects of and need for international environmental compliance. Mel Morita has been teaching the planning and estimating portion of the course since 1999. He enjoyed interacting with the students so much that even after retiring from the shipyard five years ago, he continued as an instructor.

The initial atmosphere among the students in the course is the same every year, he observed. “No one knows each other. At first, nobody really talks in class, but as time goes on, you can see the bonding.” Morita noted there is an exchange of knowledge between everyone in the class. “We learn how their navy and shipyard operate in their countries. The students learn from each other. They’re asking questions among themselves. It’s sharing information among different countries.” Lt. Sergio Bartolome of the Philippine navy said he and the other students have informal discussions at their living quarters and even while waiting for the van that picks them up and takes them to class. “What’s your navy all about? This works for us,” he said, giving examples of conversations. The motivation is “if you’ve got an idea that’s better, when we return to our country, we can adopt it there.” Another enrollee in the class, Lt. Col. Mochamad Faisol Luchaq of the Indonesian navy, said the students have learned about how shipyards are managed and structured in various countries. “Everybody has a different organization,” he said. Upon completion of the training, the officers understand the functions of -- and the interrelationships between, the planning and operations departments, military-civilian relationships in an industrial complex, management techniques for economical and efficient operations, and the complexities of ship repair planning and execution. An off-duty information program enables the students to gain an appreciation of U.S. society, institutions and ideals through visits to various historical, cultural, educational, scenic and other sites.

Luchaq said the classmates are provided with each other’s contact information, so students can continue to stay in touch after the training is completed. Sonoda said the course is much more than learning how to manage a shipyard. “The ramifications go far beyond the Shipyard,” he said. “It’s building relationships. The students are together for six weeks. They come as strangers. Most leave as friends.” Strategically located in the Pacific Ocean, PHNSY is a full-service naval shipyard and regional maintenance center for the U.S. Navy’s surface ships and submarines.

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