Guy Fairweather, a contract simulations operator, mans the many monitors of a simulation system housed at the U.S. Army Maritime Simulations Center, U.S. Army Transportation School at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The center includes a Full Mission Bridge Simulator that utilizes several different ship models to include Army watercraft. It can reinforce skill sets and provide training and certification on others. It is a critical component in the training of personnel and an unparallelled complement to the credentialing aspects of the schoolhouse.

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS (Dec. 12, 2013) -- Chief Warrant Officer 4 Darren Reese can lay claim to a long list of destinations he has reached while sailing the high seas as a Soldier-mariner. With a dreamy fascination, he easily recalls his journeys to the Caribbean Islands, Central America, Europe, Egypt and other faraway places.

"It's just something you can't buy," said the outgoing High-Speed Course manager at the Transportation School's Maritime Intermodal Training Division. "You just can't."

You also can't put a price on the training that contributed to Reese's successful missions as an Army mariner. The various courses he completed at MITD earned him certifications and licenses that are quite difficult to attain otherwise.

"…You would have to attend one of the four-year Merchant Marine Academies, and your parents will have to sell their kidneys to pay for it," he said with a bit of sarcasm. "You're well in excess of $100,000 in tuition costs only for the opportunity to take an exam that we are pretty much given by virtue of graduating from this campus."

That campus, comprised of the MITD and Marine Qualification Division, is the Army's maritime service hub. It's where enlisted watercraft operators and engineers along with marine deck and engineering warrant officers learn the crafts and skills that are components to the Army's maritime logistical support strategy.

The schoolhouse lists more than 25 certifications and licenses available to Soldier-mariners, Coast Guardsman, Sailors and various other U.S. government personnel. Several are awarded as a result of graduation from basic courses, providing minimal requirements are met. The courses are accredited through the U.S. Coast Guard's National Maritime Center. That's a plus, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Isaiah Smith, instructor/writer and High-Speed Craft Course manager.

"Having that standard for the training we conduct here is extraordinary because that recognizes our mariners and also the instructors at the schoolhouse as a whole," he said. "It says the training that we provide is world-class and is recognized anywhere. It also is aligned with the commercial sector in that we are keeping up with best industry practices."

Smith also said the certifications benefit the Army because the skills and expertise mariners gain through by-the-book assessments directly impact how well missions are performed. From an individual standpoint, Soldiers are afforded the opportunity to grow skills that may benefit them in the long term. CWO4 Patrick Deck, chief, MQD, said that's something worth highlighting.

"One of the things I do as chief of MQD is that I promote maritime qualifications," he said. "Part of that is reaching out to our civilian sector. There are several shipping industry companies we reach out to because they are drawn to the Army mariner -- number one, they have experience; number two, the credentials they bring to the table are substantial.

" Most of these engineering and deck (military watercraft operators), whether they are enlisted or warrant officer, can step out of boots onto a boat in the civilian sector relatively easy because of the type of training they receive."

Aside from core skills, Deck said when you add the work ethic service members are likely to have, then it's a "no brainer for the civilian sector." In fact, he said as of late its recruitment efforts have been fairly aggressive.

"They have been asking for engineers quite a bit," he said.

Furthermore, the schoolhouse wants to offer even more certifications, said Deck.

"We're always looking for more in terms of what we provide," he said. "MITD is already engaged with a couple of initiatives with the National Maritime Center. For example, we've requested an upgrade from a 200 gross ton master's license to a 500 and/or a 1,600-ton (vessel)."

The MITD trains approximately 300 Soldier-mariners per year in two enlisted military occupational specialties and two warrant officer MOSs. It also conducts advanced skill level training for Soldiers and warrant officers already in the career field.

Page last updated Thu December 12th, 2013 at 10:01