Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk hosted four Chief Petty Officers (CPO) from Saudi Arabia, from July 18 to Aug. 2 for a two-week training visit.
The Saudis traveled to the United States months before their stay in Norfolk. Their first stop was Lackland Air Force Base, Texas for language training. Next, they visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Fla. for leadership training.
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Four Saudi Arabia Chief Petty Officers receive Supply training at NAVSUP FLC Norfolk. (Photo by Bill Pointer)
The visiting Saudis all have a supply background, and work at an Inventory Control Point (ICP) in Saudi Arabia. They handle items, procure and issue material, and deal with foreign governments to bring material to Saudi Arabia and expedite shipments.
Once in Norfolk, they were assigned an escort, LSCS Joshua Hayes, who guided them through their two-week training and familiarization cycle. After checking in to the command and meeting the command staff, they hit the deck running.
"We were pretty much on the go and stayed busy for the entire two weeks," LSCS Hayes said. "I learned a lot too, it was very beneficial for me. I didn't know what to expect or if we would even be able to communicate well, but I quickly found out that wasn't going to be an issue. They made it easy for me."
NAVSUP FLC Norfolk has 38 sites located not only in the Norfolk area, but also throughout the country. There wasn't time for the Saudis to visit all of those sites, but they were able to visit nine different activities in Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach, Va. At NAS Oceana, Va., they were able to see how the Regional Supply Office (RSO) Oceana supports the Navy's Master Jet Base there.
They also learned about a similar operation aboard Naval Station Norfolk at RSO Norfolk/Aviation Support Detachment (ASD), where similar support is provided to helicopter squadrons stationed there.
"Our supply operations are almost identical," said CPO Faisal Alasman. "The biggest difference is that here in the U.S., things are much better organized and the technology is far more advanced than what we have in Saudi Arabia."
In Portsmouth, the Saudis visited Craney Island, where the NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Fuel Department operates the Navy's largest Defense Fuel Support Point (DFSP) in the continental United States. They also visited employees from the NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Industrial Support Department at St. Julien's Creek Annex, and learned how they support Sailors and their ships during Integrated Logistics Overhauls (ILO) or Phased Maintenance Reviews (PMR).
During these evolutions, parts, manuals and other logistics elements are off-loaded, warehoused, inventoried, catalogued, and verified. Appropriate additions or subtractions are made, depending on configuration changes made to the ship during the availability, and then all items are loaded back onto the ship.
"We have learned some of the methods you use to save time and how you use technology to operate with fewer people than before," CPO Alasman explained. "Most of the equipment we have back home comes from the U.S., so when we are here in a supply environment, we are seeing pretty much the same equipment, only it's bigger and there is more of it."
The Saudis visited several other NAVSUP FLC Norfolk activities aboard Naval Station Norfolk. All have the same basic mission -- to support the Sailors and ships so they can perform their missions underway. Their two-week stay didn't allow time for full immersion into the process. Because they had so much to see in a short period of time, they saw a snapshot of activity at each site they visited.
"We enjoyed seeing all of the places we visited, and wish we had more time to spend at each location to get more hands on training," CPO Alasman said. "One of the things we learned is that there are many different systems used in U.S. Navy supply, and we'd like more time to learn about each one."
"To put it simply, they want to get their hands dirty," LSCS Hayes said. "They want to spend time at each site and really see how things work. There is so much that you don't see when you aren't actually doing the work and interacting with people on the job."
"We'd like to come back for three months so we could spend two weeks at each place instead of just two weeks to see everything," said CPO Abdullah Alkhaldi.
They did have time during their stay to visit USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77).
"We have seen aircraft carriers before on television, but seeing it in person was completely different," CPO Haroon Ibrahim emphasized. "It was much bigger than we expected it to be. It was like visiting another city."
"The best tour we received during our visit was aboard the aircraft carrier," CPO Alasman said. "It was very unique for us. We don't have anything like that in our Navy, and none of us have ever visited an aircraft carrier before. This chance we had to visit that ship is a memory that we will carry with us for the rest of our lives."
The Saudis left Norfolk with a better understanding of how the U.S. Navy's supply operations work, and a strong desire to learn more.
"We really appreciate the assistance we received from Senior Chief Hayes during our visit," CPO Alasman said. "No matter what we asked for, he responded immediately and made sure we were well taken care of. I hope we are able to come back soon for a much longer stay."
By Jim Kohler, NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Office of Corporate Communications Public Affairs