ABOARD USS NASSAU (NNS) -- During USS Nassau's (LHA 4) sea trials in April, the ship's library reopened with a new addition--a 24-station Learning Resource and Media Center (LRC).
During Nassau's extended repair availability at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., nearly every space of the ship was rehabilitated, the library being no exception. Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Robert Seitzinger, Nassau's automated data processing (ADP) leading chief petty officer, designed the LRC with two specific aims--function and fun.
"The idea was to provide a place where Sailors can unwind, while at the same time take a distance learning class," said Seitzinger.
For everyday use and recreation, 12 stations are designated as standard IT-21 work centers with Internet access, allowing Nassau's junior Sailors to enjoy a shipboard Internet cafe. The remaining stations are split between personal computer and PlayStation 2 gaming. The LRC has headsets for each station, to maintain the library's calm atmosphere.
For function, an additional station integrated into the instructor's lectern can, with the flick of a switch, override all 24 stations, transforming the game center into a learning center. Training aids built into the lectern include an overhead projector, electric motorized screen and laser pointer.
"The learning aspect of the LRC was designed to operate the same way as the Navy's service schools are now with computer-based education," said Aviation Electrician's Mate 1st Class (AW/SW) Matthew Cooper, who, along with Aviation Support Equipmentman 1st Class (AW/SW) Frank Schutte, volunteered for the rehabilitation project. "Many of the new Sailors reporting to the ship are used to this method of instruction. For them, it's nothing more than moving a shore classroom on board the ship."
Cooper, a master training specialist, added that instructors unfamiliar with working an integrated system wouldn't be left out.
"Right now, Nassau has a small cadre of instructors certified to use the station. In order to get on the schedule for the LRC, instructors will need to be trained, and we can do that here," said Cooper, a native of Toledo, Ohio.
The LRC isn't limited to teaching Navy courses, explained Schutte. "The LRC is an ideal setting for PACE [Program for Afloat College Education] and college classes," he said.
A major transformation needed to be completed before any PlayStation 2 champion or future college degree holder could use the LRC. It took a lot of work to prepare the library for its new look.
"At first it wasn't bad. We would get a few Sailors from the day's working party to pack up the books and begin preparing the space to be rebuilt," said Cooper, who added that all work done by Nassau crew members was done in addition to their regular duties.
Schutte estimated that overall the project took about two months of man-hours based on a seven-member working party.
Though it's still early, both Cooper and Schutte anticipate the popularity of the LRC being very high.
One of the first to use the LRC was Personnelman Seaman Patrick Ivas, who is temporarily assigned to duty in the galley as a food service attendant. "The galley hours are pretty long, especially during sea trials, but when I can get some time to relax and play some PlayStation, it's nice to have it available," he said.
Schutte said what made the project so worthwhile is what the center will do for the junior Sailors. "Some of us have regular access to a computer in our work centers, but for the Sailors who live on board, it is bound to make their time on Nassau much better."
For related news, visit the USS Nassau (LHA 4) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/lha4.