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SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — The USS Harpers Ferry will be the first ship operating from Sasebo to use a new computer system that constantly measures a ship’s training level from a readiness point of view.

Navy leaders are shifting to continual measurements of training, sidestepping the practice of reaching peak performance during certification periods every 18 to 24 months, said Capt. Alan R. Moore, Command Task Force 76 deputy commander.

The full U.S. Navy surface fleet gradually is shifting to this system, a transition expected to be complete in 2008, he said Tuesday.

Using the new SHIPTRAIN model should help vessels maintain high readiness levels even after deployments and periodic maintenance and upgrade periods. SHIPTRAIN provides for checks every six to eight months, he said — frequent, ship-wide training assessments that should give fleet commanders measurable “responsive short-term readiness.”

Starting with Harpers Ferry, an amphibious dock-landing ship with a crew of about 400, Sasebo-based ships will use a computer program — Training Organizational Readiness Information Services, or TORIS — that lets leadership precisely determine readiness strengths and weaknesses in specific areas throughout the ship, Moore said.

Shipboard training team members control information entered into the TORIS database, which computes the results and determines readiness levels and which areas of shipboard operation need attention.

The statistical measurements let the training team “plan and provide the right training at the right time,” Moore said.

“This relies heavily on our most important element of readiness — our people,” he added.

The SHIPTRAIN system, which the chief of naval operations mandated in 2004, is a tool and “a mindset,” Moore said, adding that initial use on some U.S.-based ships indicated it works.

A Navy news report quoted Adm. Terrance Etnyre, commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, as calling SHIPTRAIN “a key part” of the Navy’s mandate to “be prepared to provide credible and persistent combat power from the sea” whenever needed.

Fleet commanders see the training system as a way to “potentially return weeks of underway training time to ships,” Moore said.

Less time training at sea is of particular benefit to the amphibious ships in Sasebo, which through the last three years have had the “highest operational tempo in the Navy,” he said.

With more time in port, additional emphasis could be placed on “professional, cultural and recreational opportunities,” he added.

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