The SIU-affiliated Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education recently witnessed a milestone achievement: a betatest class of students successfully completed the Military Sealift Command (MSC) Basic Storekeeping course along with Supply Configuration Management. Both were offered for the first time in the history of the Piney Point, Maryland-based facility.
According to Paul Hall Center (PHC) officials, in the future, throughout seven consecutive weeks, students will attend two classes: a three-week Basic Storekeeper class, and a directly related, four-week Supply Configuration Management class. Both courses must be completed in order to be eligible to sail as a storekeeper on an MSC vessel.
“This course was two years in the making,” said PHC Assistant Vice President and Manpower Director Bart Rogers. “We had many planning meetings between the school and MSC. It was a collaborative effort that created this course, and there were many people involved from both the SIU and MSC that made this a reality.”
The course, Rogers said, was created out of a demand for highly qualified, MSC-trained storekeepers to sail on their civilian-crewed vessels. He explained, “At first, there was a little resistance from MSC, but we were able to convince them that there was a need on board the vessels for this particular rating and the training that’s associated with it. We were having more and more difficulty finding [storekeepers] in the military, so the best solution was to teach and train our own.”
As with every course designed for mariners to sail on MSC-contracted vessels, the curriculum was taken directly from MSC training materials. For the first iteration of the class, MSC provided an instructor. A second instructor from the Paul Hall Center assisted and gained knowledge on how to properly teach the class in the future.
The first class served as a trial run of sorts, but the mariners who completed the course were highly qualified, according to Paul Hall Center Acting Vice President Thomas Orzechowski: “This was an excellent class. Moving forward, we’re going to sit down with the instructors, we’re going to sit down with our development team, and we’re going to have to put together a list of prerequisites or a test to ensure that the members coming in have the skills they need to pass the course.”
“The class itself was pretty intense,” said Paul Hall Center Director of Training Priscilla Labanowski. “It was kind of interesting to see the students huddled in the classroom together, and they always came out of the classroom with tons of books…. If you talk to anyone who has taken the class, they will tell you it is definitely one of the hardest courses they’ve ever taken at Piney Point.”
Rogers offered some insight into the stateof- the-art class: “This course requires some computer skills, specifically in Microsoft Word and Excel. If you do not have the required computer skills, the course would be very difficult. It is also very helpful to have a background in engineering, but it is not required.”
Beyond some slight technical issues, students praised the structured pace of the class, stating in anonymous reviews that “with the slow, slow learning curve, it was still somewhat overwhelming because of the amount of information and the rate at which we had to learn … but the intense dedication, loyalty and hard work (of the instructors) to be sure we all succeeded – and still knew the material – brings tears to a man’s eyes. I thank them both very much!”
The next classes are expected to take place in July 2018.
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