Tortuga University Helps Sailors on
their Advancement Exam
By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
Geronimo Aquino, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, West Pacific
Posted: March 2, 2009
EAST CHINA SEA – The First Class
Association (FCA) aboard the forward-deployed amphibious dock
landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46) founded Tortuga University (TU) to
help shipmates study for their advancement examinations.
In September 2008, members of the FCA were challenged to create a
program to help junior Sailors advance in their Navy careers.
“Too many times I have seen personnel come so close to advancing but
just can't get over the hump,” said Tortuga's Command Master Chief
(CMC) Steven Alt “when looking at their profile sheets, the biggest
thing that jumps out, is the low scores in Professional Military
“I wanted to ensure we gave that extra care in helping our Sailors,
so I offered up the idea to the FCA about running a program we would
call 'Tortuga University'” the CMC further explained.
The Tortuga's FCA asked for volunteers to plan for the creation of a
new concept of learning that would support Shipmates on their
advancement. Information System Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Eric
Martin from Blackshear, Ga., and Storekeeper 1st Class (SW)
Ernestine Burton from Moreno Valley, Calif., volunteered and took
the job, so they lead and executed the plans in coordination with
the Command Master Chief that resulted in founding of Tortuga
University (TU) in January 2009.
The first session held, was on the Tortuga's Mess Deck on February
9, 2009; due to its initial success the sessions were moved to a
larger classroom, equipped with a 40 inch plasma monitor for power
point presentations, known to ships company as the Learning
Resources Center (LRC).
The classes cover all areas of Basic Military Requirements and
Professional Military Knowledge (BMR/PMK) in an effort to assist
those of their shipmates who may struggle in this area on their
Navy-wide advancement examinations.
“The shipboard classroom environment provides a 'college-like'
classroom setting where students interact with their instructors,
and question and answers session are often part of the curriculum,
hence the name TU because of the time period provided for the
Sailors to focus on the basics, this will lead to an overall
advancement increases across the board,” said Martin.
The subjects they teach in the class are designed by extracting data
from the most current Advancement Examination bibliography's from
E-4 to E6 and breaks the data points used into topics. Class
sessions are posted in the ships Plan of the Day, three times a
“Internet signal will never be an issue, during underway period,
because we have our subjects ready in forms of power point
presentations,” said Burton.
Navy-wide advancement examinations are administered twice a year
during the month of March and September for eligible candidates E-4
“I believed this will help me, because there are more people
involved, its like a traditional classroom; teacher and students
working together,” said Damage Controlman Fireman (SW) Juan Garcia