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In December, Captain Jay Young spoke to VSRA membership at our December General Membership Luncheon.

After a brief introduction by VSRA Chair Perry Bingham, Captain Young took the podium with lighthearted jokes followed by recognition of the volunteers and award winners shared in the luncheon. Additionally, he shared his interest in knowing what is going on and said to keep him in the loop for him to get involved.

First, Captain Young shared his passion for his prior job as the Navy’s Supervisor of Diving & Salvage and how he transferred over to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) to be with a productive team.

He goes into how everyone has a mission, and that there are two collective missions between the membership of VSRA as well as MARMC. Those are to protect the nation and to take care of the men and women in uniform. Captain Young shares his experiences in seeing proud workers getting the job done to make sure our ships are ready to go.

Focus items Captain Young emphasized started with general safety, in that it was priority number one. As an example of it being a high priority, Captain Young shared how he brings in 30-40 sailors every other week for an indoctrination where he goes into the importance of safety on the job. He also tracks the injuries of ships in availability. Captain Young referenced the Safety and Health Seminar as an event we do that helps employees get safety knowledge.

Captain Young specified how important fire safety is. He then went heavily into the Bonhomme Richard fire and his involvement with the incident. He shared how he could still see and smell the results of the fire on Bonhomme Richard. “We lost a valuable asset to fire, and we just can’t let that happen again.”

Another focus was the creativity and idea generated by the ship repair industry while making a joke about the government not making the best ideas. Captain Young shared an example of ship repair creativity with a story of the USS Iwo Jima where it was purposefully undocked without rutters due to the rutters being delayed and other ships needing to be docked. Iwo Jima had their rutters installed waterborne which allowed for new capability that can be done in the future with different vessels. USS Ross was another example of creativity Captain Young shared with Ross having a hole. He shared that if it docked, it would have delayed other ships, so a patch was crafted within 24 hours and Ross was undocked with the patch put on. Captain Young made a note to point out his desire to prove naysayers wrong and brought a copy of the US Navy Dive Manual Revision 7a, which is a large manual that does not include any use of “can” or “cannot”. He said that those words are not in the Navy’s dictionary, and he makes his team match that mentality as they handle situations.

Wartime readiness was something Captain Young went into details on, as tensions are shown as rising in all news outlets and the “Davidson window” being less than 3 years away. “If we go to war, we have to win. There’s no other option.” Captain Young called the potential war a “come as you are battle” that we can prepare for by keeping skilled workers busy and retained. He said they are taking a lot of time to train sailors to be self sufficient on the sea by fixing the ships when the ship repairers cannot help them. The new MARMC has been teaching sailors with their new welding school as well as a set of standard operating procedures to keep sailors with specific skills tailored to be ready if war comes.

Captain Young closed by saying the ship repair job is a “thankless job” that is still appreciated, highlighting that the industry needs more recognition as it is well known that ships would not sail without the ship repair industry keeping things operating.

Only one question was asked, Perry Bingham asked if there was anything industry could do to support and help loading issues as decline in work being brought to Norfolk. Captain Young responded by saying it is a problem that is present with DDGs not coming soon enough and frigates not coming to Norfolk at all. He continued by saying he does not have a clear answer right now, but they are looking at giving as much work as they can to as many stakeholders to keep them viable and suggested looking for other kinds of work as new ships are not being built fast enough to fill the spots in the port.

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