NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Naval Safety Center (NSC) and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) unveiled the new military sport bike course (MSBC) designed specifically for high-performance motorcycles, June 11.
Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Commander, U. S. Fleet Forces Command and Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, Commander, Naval Safety Center, both lauded the effort involved in bringing this to the fleet.
According to Greenert, too many service members are getting injured or killed on this kind of high-performance motorcycle.
"We need to arrest that trend," said Greenert.
Sport bikes, many weighing in less than 450 pounds and producing up to 190 horsepower, are built for speed and high maneuverability. It's estimated that 94 percent of traffic fatalities occurred among first year riders, who average 24 years old.
"We wanted to develop something with the Navy where we were able to help the rider become more aware of what's going on inside their head, not just their skill," said Charlie Fernandez, general manager of the MSF. "Our hope and anticipation is to help riders become more aware of the decisions they're making and to make wiser choices out there."
According to the NSC, there are approximately 25,000 Sailors and Marines licensed to drive motorcycles; of those nearly 12,500 ride sport bikes. With 32 motorcycle fatalities this fiscal year, 30 involving sport bikes, it is easy to see why the Navy takes this issue seriously.
"It's kind of alarming that these are the type of bikes that are having the fatalities," said Don Borkoski, the motorcycle safety manager at the NSC, adding that the number of riders continues to rise.
Borkoski, a 30-year retired Navy veteran, was instrumental in creating the MSBC. An avid rider, Borkoski is familiar with the high fatality rate involved with sport bikes. Soon after arriving at the Safety Center, he briefed leadership about the need for specific training on these high-performance machines. It took less then a year for the concept to reach fruition, making its way up to the Secretary of the Navy.
"It's not the machine," explained Borkoski. "What we were doing was providing training on these bikes as if it were a propeller airplane, when in all actuality this is a jet fighter."
The MSBC began in fleet concentration areas earlier this month, including San Diego, Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Jacksonville, Fla., and is expected to spread rapidly throughout Navy and Marine Corps installations world-wide. The vision for the MSBC for 2009 is a full service contract where trainer motorcycles are available to all interested riders, so service members can make a more informed decision before purchasing their own motorcycle.
"This is increasing our capabilities and skills on the road," said Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Clark, from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136 who attended this first ever course. "As a Navy member, this course tells me the Navy actually cares about their people, to take the time and spend the resources allowing us the opportunity to come out here."
The one-day, eight-hour course, focuses on the speed and cornering characteristics of sport bikes with three hours of classroom instruction followed by four hours of range exercise. Students are able to apply the skills they have just learned under strict supervision in a controlled atmosphere. The MSBC is limited to 12 students per class. For more information on motorcycle safety and this course, visit www.safetycenter.navy.mil/ashore/motorvehicle/motorcycle.
For more news from Naval Safety Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nsc/.