WaterFront Readiness Keeping USNA's fleet afloat

As part of their professional development curriculum, midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) receive training in seamanship and navigation, and marksmanship. This training provides midshipmen an opportunity to move out of the classroom, and experience life at sea with operational fleets. Behind the scenes of this experience is a department of military and civilian personnel that ensures this professional training is executed properly, and safely.

Naval Support Activity (NSA) Annapolis’ Waterfront Readiness (WFR) is charged with operating the Marksmanship Training Unit, Small Craft Repair Facility, and the Yard Patrol Operations.

“We have a constant tempo here at WFR, we don’t have a slow season,” said Senior Chief Engineman William Holley. “While the midshipmen are actively training and using the vessels pier side during the academic year and during the summer, we have over-the-horizon evolutions up the east coast and offshore sailing trips out into the Atlantic. We have to make sure all of our vessels are ready to meet our academic and summer operational needs."

WFR’s Yard Patrol Operations (YP) maintains a constant rotation of 24 YP craft, four Utility Boats and 65 sail training craft. They facilitate training that supports pier-side familiarization, damage control and underway evolutions. Supporting the safe-environment learning is a crew consisting of a Craft Master (a senior Boatswains Mate (BM) or Quartermaster (QM)), an Engineman (EN) and two deck seaman. The average time spent in underway training is 150 days per crew, per year.

“We provide safe and reliable craft for the midshipmen to learn seamanship, navigation and basic ship handling,” said Senior Chief Boatswain’s Mate Eduardo Hurtado.

The Small Craft Repair Facility provides hull, mechanical, and electrical support to YP, sail, and auxiliary craft used to support USNA’s "Excellence at Sea" programs. While varying from year-to-year, each crew member will perform about 150 hours of basic maintenance to the crafts. The behind-the-scenes work performed on the crafts give the midshipmen the opportunity to be trained without the burden of vessel performance issues.

“The level of work and the capabilities that our Sailors can do here for the sail craft and YPs is incredibly impressive,” said Commander Ethan Mitchell, deputy director WFR. “We aren’t on the yard, and often when people come to NSA Annapolis and see what we have and what our sailors can do, it’s a further testament to the work they perform. We are definitely in a job where if you are hearing about it, it means something is going wrong. We want everything to be so smooth that you don’t even notice.”

The mission of the Marksmanship Training Unit (MTU) is to provide for the professional training of midshipmen and others in the use of small arms, with particular emphasis on safety and proficiency. MTU personnel provide basic and advanced marksmanship training to the midshipmen. Additionally they support ceremonial cannon fire for funerals, midshipmen formal marching parades, graduation and change of commands.

“Being able to watch the Sailors here advance, get the training to progress in their careers and work tirelessly to make sure the job is done right, is the best part of my job,” said Mitchell. “We trust our Sailors with the maintenance they perform, their crewmember positions when they are out-to-sea and the responsibility they step up to take hold of.”

23 Sailors from WFR were recently recognized by the USNA Superintendent, Vice Adm. Walter E. “Ted” Carter, Jr. for their performance during the 2017 Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV).

INSURV is a thorough inspection that examines ships against navy standards to determine readiness in myriad areas.

A day like today; seeing them being recognized for those efforts is a day that makes everyone here at WFR proud,” said Mitchell. “The constant tempo of maintenance and out-to-sea rotations make moments of recognition that much better for command.”

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