main story image for facebook sharing

Around The Fleet

First in its Class

Nimitz paves way for NAMTS future

Undergoing extended maintenance in the shipyard can be a trying time for any ship and her crew. The long days, paired with dangerous, stressful working conditions can be a challenging combination.

Some Sailors may become discouraged during a prolonged shipyard period, but some Sailors stationed aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) are taking full advantage of this time by utilizing a program unique to aircraft carriers.

Nimitz, currently in an extended planned incremental availability (EPIA), is the first afloat command Navy-wide to implement Navy Afloat Maintenance Training Strategy (NAMTS) for Sailors in and out of engineering ratings, earning them critical Naval Enlisted Classifications (NEC) that will allow them to make crucial shipboard repairs that would otherwise need to be contracted out.

"Commander, Naval Regional Maintenance Center and Carrier Team One thought it would be a great program to implement on Nimitz to leverage the carrier engineering maintenance assist team's training capabilities during EPIA," said Bill Edwards, the afloat NAMTS coordinator.

Senior Chief Machinist's Mate Joshua Jackson, command NAMTS job qualification requirement (JQR) coordinator, said usually when a Sailor enters into the NAMTS program, he or she is a Sailor in an engineering rating on shore duty at an Intermediate Maintenance Facility. However, on Nimitz, Sailors outside of engineering ratings are allowed to take part in the program. They are sent to teams that perform shipboard maintenance that will qualify them on NAMTS JQRs, similar to personnel qualification standards, but more stringent, mechanical and technical in nature that document a technician's proficiency.

The Sailors complete on-the-job training and the JQRs get signed off by qualified Sailors who already hold the NEC or Carrier Engineering Maintenance Assist Team (CEMAT) members. The Sailor then receives the NEC after passing a pretest, posttest and oral board.

There are currently 57 Nimitz Sailors enrolled in the NAMTS program, 17 of which have completed their JQRs and two have passed their post-test and are awaiting their oral board.

This is going to help the Navy as a whole in the long run. We will be able to have our Sailors fix our equipment instead of contracting everything out to other entities."
-MMCS Joshua Jackson

The NECs that the Sailors will receive are going to allow the ship to make repairs underway that would typically require the ship to pull into port to perform. This will have a substantial impact on the ship's ability to stay mission ready while forward deployed and maintain a more robust maintenance availability.

Sailors currently working on these NECs are broken down into one of five teams: watertight door, pump repair, valve repair, inside machinist and outside electrical.

A huge benefit of NAMTS is keeping Sailors on board the ship while receiving these NECs, because they are contributing to getting the ship ready to get out of the shipyard on time while receiving their training, instead of temporarily sending them off the ship to an advanced technical school where they could be gone for several months at a time.
Three photos of Sailors performing air valve repair, mulling bar stock, plain milling brass as a part of the NAMTS.

For instance, Sailors working toward the valve repair NEC perform maintenance on valves from around the ship that need to be repaired. They are able to help make necessary repairs that help advance Nimitz' maintenance schedule while still earning credit toward an NEC.

"On the valve team, we test the valves, and if they don't test right we take them apart, clean them up and test them again, making sure they relieve at the right pressure," said Fireman Austen Miller. "We go to classes to learn about the different types of valves and do a lot of on the job training."

Lt. Cmdr. John Timothy, Nimitz' training officer, said Sailors participating in NAMTS as an afloat activity are able to complete their JQRs much faster than their counterparts on shore duty due to the high volume of work while Nimitz is in the shipyard.

Sailors selected for the program are chosen to be on teams and earn NECs that will ultimately benefit their parent departments.

"The pump repair team, for example, is mostly aviation boatswain's mates who work in fuels," said Jackson. "Since they are overhauling all of their pumps, we had most of them sign up for that JQR. We are setting them up for success."

As a young, junior Sailor, it has assisted me a lot when I am machining. We have actually been able to go hands on with stuff that I wouldn't have seen unless I was at school."
-MR3 Cameron Stoneking

Working on JQRs also benefits Sailors by keeping them mentally engaged and focused throughout the shipyard period. Sailors have realized there are some other professional benefits as well.

Three photos of Sailors mulling bar stock, plain milling brass and using a bench grinder as a part of the NAMTS.

"It gives Sailors an opportunity to have a goal to shoot for that is tangible throughout the yard period," said Timothy. "It's not a traditional deployment mindset, so a lot of people are looking at what they can achieve, and earning an NEC for any one of these is huge."

"Being one of the only Sailors to have the NAMTS program completed would help me stand out," said Stoneking. "It's definitely helped me go more in depth with my rate and has even helped me on the advancement exam."

The NECs they receive credit for also translate into college credits, further benefitting Sailors.

It's always good to be qualified wherever we are at, and this is something we can do while in the Navy that will help us to get ahead. This is something we will be able to take back to our teams and help everyone out with."
-Fireman Austen Miller

The most important piece of NAMTS is its ability to bridge the gap between the lost knowledge caused by switching to computer based training, downsizing and shortening schools because of funding, said Jackson.

Other carriers will eventually follow suit and implement the NAMTS program, and Nimitz will continue the program after the shipyard period, said Timothy.

Nimitz' NAMTS program supports the Chief of Naval Operation's Sea Power 21 vision by carrying out the sea warrior concept, ensuring the right Sailors are learning the right skills to help the ship at the right time. The program ensures Nimitz is prepared to deploy with Sailors who are highly skilled, motivated and optimally employed for mission success.

Graphic link to heavy metal story; deck plate background image with text Heavy Metal.