Sailors supporting launch and recovery operations aboard USS Gerald R Ford (CVN 78) celebrated a major training milestone this week.
Ten trainees were the first to graduate the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) Carrier Aviation Boatswain Mate Equipment (ABE) C-school using the Multipurpose Reconfigurable Training System (MRTS 3D) at Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training (CNATT) Unit Norfolk, Sept. 21.
The six-week course was the first to provide instruction for EMALS repair, upgrade and system operation training in a virtual reality environment and also the first led by other experienced Sailors.
Using the MRTS system, trainees worked on simulated launches mimicking the scenarios and procedures they may encounter on the ship while gaining muscle memory on Ford’s systems and working collaboratively as teams.
Capt. Rodney Moss, Aircraft Launch and Recovery (ALRE) Program Office (PMA-251) fleet liaison officer, described the MRTS experience as the future of launch and recovery training.
“This innovative, functional, inclusive training that we’ve developed through the MRTS system has put NAVAIR and CNATT on the forefront,” said Moss. “The initiatives we’re seeing here with augmented reality, artificial intelligence and 3D modeling will take us where we need to go and help ensure our training is preparing the most combat-ready force on the planet.”
Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Victor Paulino, one of the 10 graduating Sailors, described his experience as the best training course taken during his 20-year career in the Navy.
“I was very impressed with the instructor and the personnel who created this course,” said Paulino. “Everything was very hands-on, even though it’s computerized. It’s very realistic and instructed us fully on everything we need to understand on the ship.”
Another graduate, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Tellas Nichols, said the retention of knowledge he gained from the virtual learning environment far surpasses that of his previous training and shared his appreciation for learning the full breadth of launch and recovery operations.
“I’ve mainly worked in ship maintenance, so this class exposed me to other things that happen in the big picture of flight operations,” said Nichols. “Through the simulations, I got to see what’s going on behind the scenes and understand the EMALS system.”
All of the graduating Sailors particularly credited primary instructor, Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) 1st Class Jean Torressivestre for supporting their success with the MRTS training environment.
Torressivestre was stationed on CVN 78 before instructing at CNATTU Norfolk and brings with him a great deal of first-hand knowledge and EMALS expertise.
“I’ve been working on the curriculum and training system for this course since 2017,” he explained. “Before I left the Ford, I was working on what this EMALS-C school was going to be and working on the best ways to instruct this course.”
Torressivestre explained years of work with Naval Air Warfare Center Training Division, PMA-251 and the industry partner who developed the training software, ensured that he, as well as other subject matter experts, were fully involved every step of the way in creating exceptionally realistic training.
“This is the first time [Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Equipment) Sailors] have ever sat through a virtual course like this; we’re used to trying to learn from [slide briefings] and reports,” said Torressivestre. “For an individual to be able to work at their own pace is very beneficial to both student and instructor. If I have a student who is struggling with a procedure, he or she can spend more time with that lesson while the rest of the students work ahead, and I feel more confident that I get my job done the way it’s supposed to be, rather than moving along when there are unanswered questions.”
Russ Knaub, ALRE product support manager spent more than three years ensuring the students had the tools and facilities they needed for their training. He agreed the benefits of the teaching model and its ability to train to the individual cannot be overstated.
“This is a huge step; experienced Sailors are teaching fellow Sailors on the most advanced training system the Navy ABE rating has ever seen,” said Knaub.
Moss and other ALRE representatives joined the CNATTU Norfolk Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Marcus Creighton, class instructors and graduating Sailors to celebrate this milestone in the evolution of EMALS training.
Graduation day for the students was preceded by nearly 100 classroom instructional hours, with more than 50 of those in the lab and nearly two dozen hours of testing. Upon completion, they received their D09A EMALS Operator and Maintainer Navy Enlisted Classification code.