Partnering with U.S. Soldiers Assists Djiboutian Sailors in Fixing Patrol Boats
Djiboutian Sailors and American Soldiers gathered at the Djibouti Naval Base to share knowledge, best practices, and lessons learned in a session the Djiboutians planned to use to repair electrical systems for two Sea Ark, 55-foot patrol boats.
While the vessels add to the Djiboutian fleet, the American-based, 120-volt electrical systems differ from the 220-volt standard in Djibouti. Since receiving the boats, the Djiboutian Sailors have undertaken much work to make the boats operational.
"The [Sailors] were used to European standards and not U.S. standards," said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Leslie Martin, 448th Civil Affairs Battalion lead instructor. "My experience is U.S. standard so they were able to teach us European standards also."
As a way to help the Djiboutians get the boats up and running after the vessels had been dormant for a period, 448th CA BN Soldiers facilitated a four-day exchange that included interpreting wire color coding and talking about the differences between 120- and 220-volt electrical systems.
"They didn't understand what the wires were telling them because our color-coding system, in their knowledge, means something different," Martin said. "We were able to obtain schematics from the boat manufacturers and partner to show what those colors do."
The two Reserve Soldiers used skills they've developed in their civilian careers to help share best practices.
U.S. Army Capt. Travis Perry, 448th CA BN assistant instructor, works as a civilian electronic medical equipment repairs assistant instructor, and Martin works as an electrician for aquatic parks in Florida.
According to Martin, corrosion is a major concern there, and is also a constant concern for Djiboutian Sailors here.
"Working in that environment, I'm able to pass along how we control corrosion as best we can and the products we use," Martin said. "When you battle corrosion well, your maintenance standards are elevated."
While partnering during the class, the Soldiers and Sailors had to circumvent an additional barrier.
"Most Djiboutians speak French, but of the American team only Captain Perry can 'parle frannnnÃais,' Martin said. "Add to that, one Djiboutian spoke Somali, so a French/Somali translator was brought in. This meant instruction had to first be presented in English, then translated to French and finally Somali."
But this small barrier didn't stop the group from achieving mission success.
Restoring the boats to working order will help the Djiboutian Navy patrol their shores, improve the overall safety of their people, and exchange has also strengthened the Djibouti-U.S. relationship, according to Perry.