YOKOSUKA, Japan – Fireman Recruit Drew Lloyd, a native of Union, Ohio, knew he wanted to be able to support his future children and thought he could earn the GI Bill to help him become a fireman and paramedic.
“Everyone gets together and helps one another. The watches are a little long, but not too tough otherwise,” said Lloyd.
Lloyd, a 2018 graduate of Northmont High School, is a gas turbine systems technician (mechanical) aboard the Yokosuka, Japan-based ship, one of three cruisers forward-deployed to the region, where his job is to maintain the main engines that keep the ship running, he said.
He credits part of his success in the Navy to lessons learned in Union.
“Treat others how you want to be treated,” he said. “Don’t be rude to one another, it’s not going to get you anywhere. You’ve got to be frank, honest, and yourself, or you won’t enjoy your time here.”
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“The locals here are very kind, as long as you aren’t rude, they’ll try to have a conversation with you,” Lloyd said. “They’ll laugh and converse with you. There’s so much to see. A lot of Japanese, instead of hiding what they like to do, they just own it, and I think that keeps them happy.”
With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment.
“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who’ve made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”
A Navy cruiser is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea. The ship is equipped with a vertical launching system, tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns, and a phalanx close-in weapons system.
Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly, according to Navy officials. They do everything from maintaining gas turbine engines and operating the highly sophisticated Aegis weapons system to driving the ship and operating small boats.
Serving in the Navy means Lloyd is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Lloyd is most proud of performing well in his training courses.
“It made me proud to show that I was a smart individual,” he said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Lloyd and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Genuinely think on service,” he said. “You’ll be far away from your family and loved ones. It depends what you’re doing it for. If just for money or to prove someone wrong, that might not always be best. But if you’re doing it for yourself and doing it for your future, that’s a different story.”
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