People have five senses and when they interact with their environment they develop a sixth one. According to the Naval Training Institute, the sixth sense is the sense that trainees develop while getting trained in the field.
Naval Force Institute trainees develop this sense when they get into the sea to explore and adapt to it. It is an adopted not an innate sense. This is what I realized from the passionate naval trainees and captains while I visited their training institute in Dongolo for the third commencement last Thursday, October 5.
Training navies dates back to the armed struggle when it was initially called “Bahrya”, which means naval. In the years that followed it was linked with the naval rangers and after Eritrea’s independence, it was given the shape and organizational structure that it has today.
The Naval Training Institute, located in the town of Dongolo, graduated 213 trainees, who took naval courses for three years. The trainees specialized in one of three fields – Naval Engineering, Nautical Science and Social Science. In the last five years around 1000 trainees graduated from the Institute and joined the Eritrean naval force.
The ceremony started at nine in the morning when higher officials, invited guests and the graduating class took their seats. The event began with a minute of silence to remember our martyrs.
The Naval Training Institute provides training at five levels: the recruitment, basic, intermediate, advanced as well as specialization in a particular field, planned for implementation in the near future. The recruitment level is a general course that introduces trainees into the naval education. It includes physical fitness and assists trainees develop the sixth sense training. The basic course level teaches all trainees together about emergency operations, seamanship, naval safety and other related intense six month course. Later, trainees are made to practice their lessons in ships, workshops and naval offices. The Institute is equipped with highly qualified and experienced naval instructors and trainers. The curriculum used is flexible to fit to the trainees performances. Captain Efrem Tesfay, Chief of the Naval Training Institution, says that the strong side of the institution is its human development track and its skilled manpower.
Trainings related to naval rangers, war diving and coast guarding have got a basic foundation for the institution and are leading it into an idea of establishing a naval force college in the country. Moreover, it will provide a platform for officers’ cadet school in the future.
The mission of the institute is to recruit a physically and mentally fit naval force and the vision is to establish a national unity and prioritize benefits while securing the national security. The theoretical and practical course the institute offers enables students to discover the real aspects of naval life in a sea and makes them live for it. More importantly, the institute works on discipline before skill. Naval education requires discipline for the trainee to keep up the education and actually develop the sixth sense. If that is the case, at the end of the training, trainees are expected to acquire the skills and knowhow a real navy shows in the sea. The institute is offering a pilot project of Coast guard course for the basic course graduates in the current academic year. To the advanced course graduates (naval science trainees), Captain Efrem Tesfay advised that they should work hard for the naval art, as it is deeper and wider than the theories. The knowledge of the naval education is more explored when trainees involve themselves in the sea, he added.
In relation to regional and international matters, trainees get chances to go to foreign nations and advance their studies of naval science education. The Captain believes that the existing navy performance is determined by the practicability the naval force is showing at the moment.
On the occasion, Sergeant Mohammed Salah Abubeker, department head of Social Science, stated that naval education is an effort of team work and instructors make sure trainees are cooperative in their studies. The students appreciated the efforts and devotion their instructors showed which made the training more interesting.
Captain Efrem said that sea activity is very tempting and people recruited in it are firm. The endeavor of the Naval Training Institute is to make sure this sort of people are available in the naval force.
Eritrea’s Sea is full of resources but its strategic location makes it vulnerable. The naval force has been working to guard the sea against activities such as illegal fishing, drug and weapon smuggling, as well as human trafficking.
As Eritrea’s stake in the Red Sea is wide, the naval trainees are optimistic of what they can offer to the country’s naval sector. The integration of naval force with the land and air forces has made the sector more participatory and appealing for the trainees.
At the end of the commencement, outstanding trainees were awarded prizes by officials and the ceremony was closed with the national anthem sung by the graduates of the day.