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Around The Fleet

Hull Technicians Hone Their Skills

MARMC welds the Navy's finest

With sparks flying, loud bangs of steel colliding and screeches from metal grinding, a hardened chief tightens his lips, slightly resembling a smile, as he sips his morning coffee.

From the outside it may seem like chaos, but for the Sailors inside it's just another day at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

"We fix and maintain all tenant units on the waterfront at Naval Station Norfolk," said Chief Hull Technician Gary Reed, the production officer at MARMC. "MARMC is the largest maintenance facility in the nation. We put out more production on a daily basis than any other regional maintenance centers in the country."

MARMC is a facility that focuses on wielding, brazing, pipe repair, watertight door repair, and anything else related to steel aboard a ship. Although mostly hull technicians work there, there are Sailors from other rates that are stationed there or go for training.

"People from all rates of the Navy work here," said Reed. "Sailors whose qualifications are going to lapse can get them back up. All aspects of wielding qualifications can be obtained here."
Photo collage of MARMC.

Some Sailors at MARMC have never been stationed on a ship and depend on the skills they acquire here to help them once they get to the fleet.

"I know my Sailors are learning how to do the job correctly," said Hull Technician 1st Class Michael Desanta, MARMC's pipe shop leading petty officer. "It's an amazing feeling to take a Sailor that has never touched a blazing torch and walk them through the steps. You watch them excel at it and can see them be proud. When they leave here, they're going to the fleet and will know how to do it correctly."

However, acquiring these skills doesn't come easy.

"We have a very high workload," said Reed. "We have the ability to travel throughout the Hamptons Road area and do our work throughout all the major shipyards in the area. We work late hours and weekends, but we get the job done and make sure the ships go underway on time."

In the end, the overall experience will not only help the MARMC Sailors, but those in the fleet as well.

"I'm always learning something new every day," said Hull Technician 3rd Class James Minkoff, a Sailor stationed at MARMC. "[I'm] doing something that is important to the Navy by helping ships stay afloat. I've been able to spend my time in different shops and learn a lot. Once I get out to the fleet, I can pass on my knowledge to other hull technicians that didn't have the opportunity to come here."