Sailors aboard submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) team up with their Military Sealift Command (MSC) civilian mariner counterparts in the ship’s engineering spaces to learn ship systems and begin to develop an engineering plant qualifications program for Sailors that has not existed since the ship’s merger between the Navy and MSC.
Frank Cable’s civilian mariners are in charge of several departments throughout the ship, including engineering, so no Sailors are required to be qualified in those watch stations.
In an effort to help Sailors’ professional development, Frank Cable’s Commanding Officer, Capt. Mark Benjamin, and MSC’s Chief Mate, Peter Morway, authorized Sailors to begin developing engineering watch qualifications.
“We must expand upon what we are currently trained and equipped to do,” said Benjamin during his change of command ceremony in January. “We must get back some of the lost capabilities of our proud tender fleets of the past, where it makes sense.”
Having Sailors develop these qualifications, even though civilian mariners still stand the watch, achieves the goal of laying the ground work for Frank Cable Sailors to qualify in multiple engineering positions so they can be competitive against their peers on other platforms of ships and to having working knowledge of the equipment they will be expected to know about when they report to their next ship.
“Getting the Sailors down there (engineering spaces) and having them get familiar with how the systems operate is very important. From one ship to another, it is all the same theories, fundamentals and systems,” said Chief Machinist’s Mate Alan Sanchez, one of the eight Frank Cable Sailors in charge of establishing the engineering supervisor qualification program. “Even though MSC manning and process models are somewhat different than standard Navy, knowledge is power. Knowledge of a steam plant is something that they can take with them for the rest of their time in the Navy.”
The overall aim of this program is not to serve as a test platform for other MSC-Navy hybrid crews to allow more Sailors to maintain a professional edge.
Frank Cable, forward-deployed to the island of Guam, conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed in the U.S. 7th Fleet Area of Responsibility and is currently on a scheduled underway period.
Press Release, April 15, 2014; Image: US Navy