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Sailors seize waterfront training opportunity

09 May 2024

From Chief Mass Communication Specialist Amy Biller, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Teams from Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic hosted the event, with subject matter experts on several navigation systems providing hands-on, in-depth training to the submarine force. 

Sailors from commands under Commander, Submarine Force U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) seized on a rare opportunity to receive advanced waterfront training for submarine navigators at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, March 11-14. Teams from Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic hosted the event, with subject matter experts on several navigation systems providing hands-on, in-depth training to the submarine force. 

“Our Sailors are our greatest asset and this training empowers our sailors to perform daily tasks more efficiently, reduce common errors, and ultimately have greater success combating system casualties at-sea,” said Chief Electronics Technician (Navigation) Austin Kidwell, the Pacific Submarine Force Electronics Technician. “For 85% of the Sailors who completed the end of course survey, this was the first opportunity in their careers to work hands-on with this equipment.”

The NIWC team utilized their Mobile Test Lab (MTL); a solution that was identified to address the navigation training gap for submariners which had been identified during the 2023 Submarine Navigation Improvement Program meeting. The MTL brings the training and equipment to the Sailors, creating learning opportunities in the submarine homeports.

The MTL is used to house multiple navigation enclave systems, can be customized with specific configurations, and sent almost anywhere in the world to support the Sailors’ training needs for the systems they will operate onboard their submarines. This first of its kind event for the Pearl Harbor waterfront was the proof of concept for the Navigation Advanced Waterfront Training (NAWT).

“The MTL provides the opportunity for Sailors to perform immediate familiarization training as well as hands-on troubleshooting, assembly, and disassembly,” said Matt Daniels, NIWC Atlantic submarine navigation subject matter expert. “It also offered the opportunity for the NIWC Atlantic subject matter experts to deep dive the functionality of the respective systems and have real-time question and answers with Sailors.

Participating Sailors enjoyed the opportunity to physically touch and work the equipment in the MTL.

“This was invaluable training,” said Chief Electronics Technician (Navigation) Jason Cutler, one of the attendees. “[We had the opportunity to] troubleshoot our equipment, initiate and clear faults, open cabinets and put our hands on everything with the system experts to answer our questions and guide us through the tech manuals. Every NAV-ET in the fleet would benefit from this.”

Sailors from across the waterfront, including several submarines, participated in the training. Additionally, Sailors from Submarine Readiness Squadron 33, Submarine Squadron 1, Submarine Squadron 7, Naval Submarine Training Center Pacific, and Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard participated in the event.

“Overall, 85 Sailors turned out for this which shows both the value and demand signal for this training,” said Kidwell.

Many systems are extremely complex and for some Sailors, this was their first opportunity to experience hands-on training with subject matter experts present.

“You can simulate a NAV ET chief’s ‘nightmare’ scenario when a major piece of equipment fails. You are then awarded the opportunity to dissect it, talk about it and restore the system with the experts. It is a major confidence boost for the division.” said Cutler, who added that another highlight for him was watching a junior Sailor work through troubleshooting an operational system, watching them solve a problem, and then seeing the sense of accomplishment when they restored the degraded equipment.

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