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NEWS | July 11, 2023

Reserve Sailor Earns Advanced Job Classification at Trident Refit Facility-Bangor

By Marvin Frilles

A Navy Reserve Sailor recently completed his Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) as a pipefitter under the Navy Afloat Maintenance Training Strategy (NAMTS).

Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class Austin Fortner passed the board, an oral test which is the last step in proving he has mastered the necessary skills in his job as a pipefitter to earn the coveted qualification under NAMTS.

According to the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the program, established in 1996 under the then Chief of Naval Operations, had the goal to improve maintenance capability and self-sufficiency. Under NAMTS, the Sailors are trained on maintenance productions to become competent in their job series and to operate and maintain equipment on Navy vessels.

There are 26 different journeymen level repair and maintenance technician training programs in NAMTS that utilize hands-on and on-the-job training to qualify Sailors. Graduates are awarded NEC codes and are then assigned to jobs requiring those specific qualifications.

Fortner, a Fort Worth, Texas native joined the Navy in 2014 as a way to “see the world.” To ensure that he had the trade skills necessary for a career after military service, he chose the job of Hull Maintenance Technician.

After leaving active duty service in 2018, Fortner joined the U.S. Navy Reserve where he became a member of Surgemain. Under this designation, maintenance professionals can be mobilized on short-notice in order to meet national security requirements of the fleet.

Fortner, currently attached to Naval Reserve Center-Houston, was mobilized under Surgemain from August 2020 to September 2021 where he enrolled under the NAMTS program to earn his pipefitter qualification. By the end of the mobilization, he was 70 percent complete with the process.

Motivated and determined, he set a goal to complete his NAMTS Pipefitter qualification on his four-week annual training at TRFB from June 5-30, 2023. This goal was recently accomplished and during a brief ceremony on June 29, Fortner was congratulated by U.S. Navy Capt. Michael Eberlein, commanding officer, TRFB, on earning his Pipefitter NEC.

During the recognition, Eberlein commended the Sailors and Civilians of TRFB for their work and the importance of training in the readiness of our Navy.

“At TRFB, Sailors have the opportunity to work alongside and learn from some of the most talented and experienced civilian experts conducting the full range of ship repair techniques. The NAMTS program gives a formal structure to ensure Sailors, active and reserve, leave TRFB with the repair skills they will need to keep the fleet fighting and conduct battle damage repairs should those skills be called upon in conflict,” said Eberlein.

“Training our workforce is a continuous effort at TRFB, and our duty to deliver trained Sailors to the fleet is a primary mission we execute every day while we are fixing submarines.”

Regarding the Pipe Shop (56A) within the Repair Department at TRFB to include the government employees and Sailors, Fortner said that, “TRF gives the best opportunity to get NAMTS done. They’re fully supportive, with clear, concise training.”

The primary trainers were Steven Worley, Ryan Lundberg, David VonRuden, Mike Prophet, Hull Maintenance Technician 2nd Class (HT2) Alex Abercrombie and HT2 Adam Welkovich.

Fortner fully intends to complete 20 years of service and realized that the NAMTS NEC is a valuable tool for his rate and advancement. Fortner became the first Surgemain Sailor, since the mobilization, to earn a NAMTS NEC at TRFB.

The TRFB supports the nation’s strategic deterrence mission by repairing, incrementally overhauling, and modernizing Pacific Fleet strategic ballistic missile submarines during refits.