'Engineers are the heart of the ship'
NAVAL AIR FACILITY ATSUGI - Each week Naval Air Facility Atsugi recognizes a Sailor who has shown exceptional work ethic, skill and knowledge of their craft. The Sailor, nominated by their command, is granted the title Sailor of the Week and is given a letter of recognition by the Commanding Officer of NAF Atsugi. The Sailor is also brought on as a guest along side the Commanding Officer and Command Master Chief to co-host Captain’s Call, the base’s weekly broadcast program.
This week’s Sailor of the Week is Gas Turbine System Electrician (GSE) 1st Class Jason Calata.
Calata enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2004, two years after graduating from Oak Grove High School in San Jose California. His initial intentions were to attend a four year university and graduate with a degree in computer science, but admits to lacking the knowledge and direction he needed to pursue those goals. He said, “I wanted to graduate in that field, but I didn’t really know what to do or how to get there. I didn’t want to be like everyone else doing the same thing, so I decided to do something else.”
Although not currently working in the job of his choice, Calata’s job as a GSE allows him to handle the maintenance and repair of the ships propulsion as well as the electrical systems. He explains, “It is rewarding, but at the same time you have to get used to being the first one on the ship and the last one to leave once you pull into port.” He continues, “Someone has got to do it though, engineers are the heart of the ship and without them, nothing else would work.”
Calata explains that most of the GSE shore duty billets are given to civilian contractors, which means any Navy GSE on shore duty is usually assigned general billets. Since coming to NAF Atsugi in January of 2011, Calata worked as a building manager for bachelor housing before being transferred to the training department. His orders to NAF
Atsugi mark the first time he has been stationed on a shore base command his entire naval career.
Calata is taking advantage of this extra time and enrolled in a few college courses. He is now only a few classes shy of completing his degree. He is attending the University of Maryland University and College and plans to complete his bachelor’s degree before departing from NAF Atsugi.
“It’s going to be tough taking two or three classes at a time while working and trying to take care of the baby,”said Calata. He and his wife Caroline have been married for seven years, and are raising their daughter Miya Ellyza Calata who turns 2 years old in February.
Calata explained he is accustomed to working on frigates with a small crew of 180 passengers. Although he confesses that being on a smaller ship is a lot of hard work, he also suggests that the Frigates have more fun.
“We aren’t attached to a carrier strike group, Calata said, so we are a little more independent and able to visit more ports that the larger groups can’t go into.” He says there are things to consider on a smaller vessel, like still doing your job while being tossed about by the ocean, or trying to walk along the side of an undulating ship while getting sea sick, “We tend to have more fun in the ports to make up for all that.”
Since joining the Navy, Calata has been to Maldives, Egypt, Fiji, Jerusalem, and was actually in Samoa the day after the Tsunami.
“It was a great feeling to be a part of a humanitarian mission there and actually seeing the difference we were making helping out the people through that devastation,” said Calata.
Over all, he is happy about his decision to enlist in the U.S. Navy. However, if he could do it over again he would finish his degree first and then join the Navy as an officer. He says the Navy is something he definitely would recommend to his friends and family because of the travel, experience and opportunity it has brought to his life.