Seabees Obtain Valuable Skills, Enhance Career Potential

 By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael

121025-N-UH337-066 GULFPORT, Miss. (October 25, 2012) Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, participate in a masonry course that utilizes the Technical Trainer on Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

GULFPORT, Miss. – Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 became the first to utilize the Technical Trainer on Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC), Gulfport this week. 

Eleven students from NMCB-11 completed the four day Tech Trainer Masonry course, Friday, October 26, 2012.  Completion of the course resulted in these Seabees obtaining the skill of Masonry Unit Construction-II. 

What makes this unique in relation to other classes that Seabees participate in is the hands-on experience the students gain by using the Technical Trainer.  The only way that gaining experience like this would have been possible in the past would be through on-the-job training on a project with a hard deadline and little to no time for honing one’s skills. 

Seabees have a diverse set of skills, but one doesn’t always get the opportunity to practice all of those skills as his or her career progresses.  According to course instructor, Builder 1st Class Sidney Lyons, this is where the Technical Trainer comes in. 

“It’s like a refresher,” said Lyons.  “We get them back up to speed to be proficient at their job when they finally get there.” 

Originally from Valdosta, Ga., Lyons knows firsthand how a training tool like this can be beneficial.  He had a ten year stretch, during his now 17 ½ year Navy career, in which he did not have the opportunity to work on any projects requiring him to lay block.  When Lyons was assigned as the subject matter expert to a project that entailed a lot of masonry he knew he was not ready. 

To ensure that he wouldn’t fail at the task of leading a crew of junior Seabees on the project, Lyons bought some bricks and mortar and practiced at home after working hours in the days leading up to the project.  Through his self training and practice, he was able to overcome the potential embarrassment and poor performance that years of not utilizing that skill would have inevitably resulted in. 

A-schools, the primary means of rate training in the Navy, teach skills that a Seabee needs to be successful in his or her rate. However, it is common for four or more years to pass before a Seabee encounters a situation that requires use of some of the skills he or she learned in A-school.  This can result in less than efficient on the job performance for a project crew who must take time to retrain individuals who may have been out of practice for years on a particular skill or resort to employing an otherwise capable Seabee with tasks such as fetching tools and doing other non-skilled labor. 

Builder Constructionman Shaun Albright, originally from Bethalto, Ill., has been in the Navy for three years.  As a student in the class, Albright said that he was rusty at first after not having practiced masonry since A-school.  He marveled that having four days devoted to improving and practicing his masonry skills has brought it all back and made him more proficient. 

“It takes a little bit of technique,” said Albright, “but once you get a good row going it’s just a matter of lining it up and leveling it off.” 

Builder 3rd Class Asia Gilchrist is a student in the class.  “The work is hard, but fun,” said Gilchrist who also believes that her experience in the class will help her career as a Navy Seabee.  Gilchrist is originally from McCormick, S.C. 

In addition to Masonry, the Technical Trainer facility currently includes training stations for utilities, pre-engineered buildings, overhead power lines, reinforcing steel fabrication, interior finishes, concrete flatwork, concrete formwork, stair forms, steel fabrication, and carpentry. 

According to Chief Builder Anthony Boldrey, the concept of the Tech Trainer was born roughly five years ago, and construction on it has been ongoing for the past two to three years.  Because NCBC, Gulfport is home to multiple Seabee battalions, those who are not deployed have built the Technical Trainer.  

“It is in its infant stage,” said Boldrey, who emphasized that the Technical Trainer will continually evolve to meet the needs of the Seabees.  Boldrey is the Technical Trainer Chief in NMCB-11’s training department. 

 

121025-N-UH337-070 GULFPORT, Miss. (October 25, 2012) Builder 3rd Class Susan N. Boos (left), from Garden City, Kan., Builder 3rd Class Asia Gilchrist (middle), from McCormick, S.C., and Builder Constructionman Shaun D. Albright (right), from Bethalto, Ill., all assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, participate in a masonry course that utilizes the Technical Trainer on Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

  

121025-N-UH337-035 GULFPORT, Miss. (October 25, 2012) Builder 3rd Class Asia A. Gilchrist (left), from McCormick, S.C., and Builder 3rd Class Joshua A. Chastain, from Norwood, Mo., both assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, prepare mortar during a masonry course that utilizes the Technical Trainer on Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

 

121025-N-UH337-044 GULFPORT, Miss. (October 25, 2012) Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, participate in a masonry course that utilizes the Technical Trainer on Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

 

121025-N-UH337-065 GULFPORT, Miss. (October 25, 2012) Builder Constructionman Shaun D. Albright, from Bethalto, Ill., assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11, prepares mortar during a masonry course that utilizes the Technical Trainer on Naval Construction Battalion Center, Gulfport. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

 

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