BLACK SEA – USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) is hosting two Turkish Naval Academy midshipmen as part of the Foreign Exchange Midshipmen Program during Exercise Sea Breeze 2012 (SB12).
During the program, the midshipmen are training aboard Jason Dunham and completing a personal qualification standard (PQS) relating to all areas of surface warfare.
Additionally, the midshipmen are assigned a Jason Dunham junior officer to guide them through the process of completing their PQS and handling shipboard life.
“I believe we have some of the best junior officers in the fleet, and I know our Turkish partners have sent us their best and brightest,” said Cmdr. Michael Meredith, Jason Dunham’s executive officer. “We want this to be a learning experience for both groups. Our junior officers are sharing their knowledge of shipboard operations and seamanship, while our visiting midshipmen are sharing their culture and experience.”
The midshipmen have observed an underway replenishment, towing, flight operations, boarding exercises along with anchoring, stores on load and refueling operations.
Ensign Andrew Pfarner, one of the junior officers assisting the midshipmen, said while maritime operations are an important part of the Foreign Exchange Midshipmen Program, learning how to lead as an officer is what should be taken to heart.
“We want to give our Turkish friends the opportunity to understand how a naval officer leads his Sailors,” said Ensign Pfarner. “This is a great opportunity for both our nations to learn more about each other and how we can work together. I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Turkish navy midshipman Fatih Baris said the opportunity to study on a U.S. Navy ship provides many opportunities. One of the most important is the opportunity for building relationships.
“I have been very impressed with the way the crew has accepted us on board,” said Midshipman Baris. “After this experience, I will feel like I am able to be a better friend to the United States because I will understand them better, and I hope they will feel the same way about Turkey. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to spend time aboard Jason Dunham.”
Baris added that there was one thing about the U.S. Navy that he hoped to see in the future of the Turkish navy.
“I love the coveralls the U.S. Sailors wear,” said Baris. “I hope, in the future, we can have a uniform like that.”
SB12, co-hosted by the Ukrainian and U.S. navies, aims to improve maritime safety, security and stability engagements in the Black Sea by enhancing the capabilities of Partnership for Peace and Black Sea regional maritime security forces.