Educators visit Kings Bay's Trident Refit Facility

May 2, 2013

Educators visit Kings Bay’s Trident Refit

Schools stress STEM classes to prepare future workforce

From Youth Apprenticeship, Camden County High School

Trident Refit Facility Commanding Officer Capt. Lawrence Hill and his command hosted nearly 40 educators from 20 southeast Georgia school systems to share the need to increase Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

The event was co-hosted by The Camden Partnership and President Sheila McNeill, in an effort to develop a series of briefing and tour opportunities for Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base.

The Partnership is working towards its goal to advocate, support and strengthen military missions and improve the quality of life for our military members by enhancing military and community partnerships.

Hill briefed the group on the history, size and scope of the command. He discussed TRF’s role in maintaining submarines for the safety of the crews that serve and the defense deterrent these submarines and crew provide.

Most of the educators serve in a similar capacity as Rachel Baldwin and Jacqueline Hart in their work-based learning coordinator roles at Camden County High School.

Baldwin shared with the group how students at Camden High had been able to follow a trade and industrial curriculum and co-op their senior year of high school. Through meeting specific testing and application criteria, they were able to then apply and be accepted into the TRF apprentice program.

Some of the students she and TRF Student Trainee Coordinator Georgianna Anderson have served since 1995 are nearly 35 years old, with younger students graduating from Camden High in 2011 and selected for apprenticeship.

“It is rewarding to hear from former students when they assist TRF’s mission in Diego Garcia and at Kings Bay, as well as the pride they share when they reach milestones like purchasing their first home,” Baldwin said, stressing the opportunities the program has provided to Camden students.

The group toured the electronics, optical and mechanical shops.

Darren Harper, Kingsland economic development director, and Leslie Hamrick, president of the Camden Chamber of Commerce, accompanied the group as members of the chamber’s Workforce Development Committee.

Harper said it was helpful to see the specialized work that TRF performs to support maintenance and the refurbishing of equipment to other military entities.

The shops shared data that showed the cost savings to the Department of Defense and taxpayers that has resulted from their skill and ability to rebuild, refurbish and refit expensive equipment, hardware and electronic circuitry, as well as network and database support that must meet military ready standards.

That the industrial and technical applications relate to the skill base and expertise needed to diversify and grow a more industrial workforce in Camden County, Harper said.

Carra Goodman, workbased learning coordinator in Clinch County, said she had never thought about life on a submarine and how it was a self-contained unit that required the occupants to reuse, and filter their air, water and waste while at sea.

“The fact that the submarine shoots missiles was really all I considered the submarine had to do,” Goodman said, as she watched the many tasks Hill described regarding life on submarines.

Hill discussed the relative, sustained comfort levels that top-working equipment necessitates for the submariner. Several educators remarked that their knowledge of submarines was limited to what they had seen in the movie, Hunt for Red October.

To expand educators exposure to the intricate, industrial applications that are detailed is what is needed to relate STEM opportunities to students planning their future.

The Camden Partnership’s chairman of forums and tours, Barrett King, also accompanied the group, anticipating that similar events will occur through the collaboration of the partnership and Baldwin.

King expressed thanks that Hill recognizes the need to host educators and community stakeholders to become more informed about TRF’s mission.

“With a local civilian workforce at TRF averaging around 1,000, we want educators to be able to relate opportunities to the rising workforce as well as community leaders to link skill sets to growth opportunities that could diversify Camden’s economic base,” he said.

A luncheon followed the tour coordinated by Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay School Liaison Officer Clainetta Jefferson. Jefferson encouraged educators serving military students to partner with their respective SLO to form alliances with their local military installation.

This need was emphasized by McNeill, luncheon speaker, who encouraged advocacy.

McNeill related how the community’s advocacy for the submarine force and the conversion of the four boats from SSBN to SSGN had expanded capability to the mission of the submarine force. That allowed Camden County to welcome the USS Florida and the USS Georgia to Kings Bay.

She encouraged educators to advocate for the training needed to prepare the emerging workforce to have the science, technology, engineering and math skills needed for the military and to grow southeast Georgia’s regional economic development.