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NAVSUP FLC Norfolk contracting personnel get ready to tour USS Bataan (LHD 5). Pictured left to right are Lt. Julio Vargas, Sandy Bennett, Kim Kanash, Beverly Hines, Melinda Crawley, Shawnta Wells, Pam Gregorczyk, Manuel Miranda, Courtney Olszak, Darva Gruber, Eric Braxton, Liz Pangrac and Faye Dillard.
Understanding your customer is vital to the success of many businesses. While many profess it to be of importance, Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk puts this concept into action.
They recently sent a team of contracting personnel out to visit one of their customers, the USS Bataan (LHD 5).
“We wanted to provide NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center Norfolk contracting personnel the opportunity to visit their customers and understand the environment in which they work,” explained Capt. Barry Smith, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Contracting Department director. “By having our specialists go on board the ships, they gain a better understanding of their customers’ requirements and how to best service their needs.”
Fourteen contracting personnel volunteered to take the trip during their lunch break, with a third of them never having been aboard a ship. “I had never been on a Navy ship, and when our director asked if I was interested, I of course said yes,” said Faye Dillard, contracting specialist at NAVSUP FLC Norfolk. “I am grateful they gave us this opportunity. I always wondered what a ship looks like on the inside, and now I know. I always knew that I was supporting the mission, but now I also feel that I am a part of the Navy.”
The contracting team began their tour on the ‘Well Deck,” where Bataan’s Aviation Stores Officer, Lt. Jason Ileto, explained the ship’s mission and operations. “It was really interesting to gain first-hand knowledge about the ship and see it from the inside,” said Sandy Bennett, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk contracting specialist. “I was particularly amazed by the stern gate and flight deck. Now when I drive past the ships, I think about Sailors carrying out their mission in defending our country.”
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NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Contracting Specialist Liz Pangrec asks Lt. Jason Ileto, Aviation Stores Officer, USS Bataan (LHD 5) about maintenance and repair of the well deck.
The group ate lunch with Sailors, toured different areas of the ship, and learned how the products and services they deliver support the ship’s crew. “I learned a lot about ship board life and how the products we order really make a difference,” Bennett said. Of particular interest was the bridge wing where Lt. Ileto explained how ships are supplied underway. Lines are shot to a supply ship and cargo is delivered across the wires, all while the ship is moving.
“During one deployment we replenished 42 times,” Lt. Ileto explained. “Besides combat, this is one of the most dangerous things we do.” The contracting team also spoke with Sailors about food operations, quality of life, maintenance and repair, budgets, and contracts. They eagerly asked questions and learned about the challenges the crew sometimes faces. “It was definitely helpful to talk with the Sailors and see the environment in which they work,” said Liz Pangrac, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk contracting specialist. “I was able to learn more about their operations, requirements, and unique needs, which helps in providing them with optimal support.”
“I walked away with new ideas for supporting the fleet,” she added.
Work visits such as this also help contracting specialists establish better relationships with their customers. “It was beneficial to meet the contracting team from NAVSUP FLC Norfolk and connect with the faces behind the contracts,” Lt Ileto explained. “It was great to show them the capabilities of USS Bataan (LHD 5) and correlate their efforts to our ship’s readiness and battle effectiveness.”
The contracting team stepped off the ship sporting wide grins of appreciation for this remarkable experience. “It is a day I will always remember,” Dillard emphasized.
By Anita Tornyai
NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Office of Corporate Communications