The Edmond Sun

Local News

June 3, 2014

Edmond sailor serves aboard newest amphibious-assault ship

PASCAGOULA, Miss. — A graduate of Edmond North High School is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a hand-selected crew charged with bringing the Navy’s newest and most advanced amphibious assault ship into service.

Seaman William Pinckney is serving aboard the amphibious assault ship America in Pascagoula, Miss. America, the first ship of its class, recently completed construction and was turned over to the Navy and her crew during a ship custody transfer ceremony April 10 at Ingalls Shipbuilding.

After the ship is certified and sea trials are complete, the ship will be placed into commission as USS America and will be homeported in San Diego.

Pinckney and the rest of the 900-person crew are slowly bringing the ship to life by overseeing construction, testing new equipment, training on new systems, standing inport watches and preparing for potential shipboard casualties like fires, flooding and security breaches through continuous training evolutions.

The crew eventually will grow to more than 1,100 sailors and nearly 1,900 embarked Marines when the ship is at sea. America is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide and weighs nearly 45,000 tons. The ship has twin gas-turbine engines that push the ship through the water at more than 22 knots.

As one of the sailors who will commission the ship, Pinckney is getting a firsthand look at the improvements the Navy has incorporated into the design of the ship: a more fuel-efficient gas turbine propulsion plant, increased capacity for aviation operations, advanced weapons systems and sophisticated electronics and communications suites.

America sailors know they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes. Pinckney said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy and helping to build a crew and a ship from scratch is something he never expected to be doing just a couple years ago.

The 21-year-old sailor realizes the historical value of what it means to be selected to be part of a commissioning crew.

“It’s an honor to be assigned to a ship named after our country,” Pinckney said. “Our ship is a direct representation of our country and the face of the Navy. Other ships may go into port around the world, and based on the name, people may not know where it’s from. This is not the case with our ship.”

Pinckney is thankful for the chance to do something he loves. Currently, he is assigned to the ship’s food service division, where he discovered a career path he would like to follow.

“I really want to become a culinary specialist,” he said. “I enjoy cooking and working hard. This seems like a great fit for me and I’m really looking forward to getting started. Having a good meal onboard is really important and directly affects people’s moods. When you serve something awesome, it makes people happy, not just for a few minutes, but throughout the day.”

Recently, Pinckney was selected as the ship’s food service attendant of the month.

“I’ve put in a lot of hard work since we moved aboard,” he said. “It’s always great to be recognized for what you do. There are a lot of hard-working Sailors working there and it’s humbling to be selected from amongst them.”

In addition to being excited about an opportunity to help commission the America, Pinckney is also excited for his future in the Navy.

“There are a lot of opportunities and benefits of being a service member,” he said. “I’m less than a year into my first enlistment I realize that I have a lot to learn about the Navy. I’m happy to be here and proud to be a part of this outstanding crew.”

Pinckney’s chain of command believes he will continue to do great things as he moves forward.

“Seaman Pinckney has come to work every day and exceeded our expectations,” said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Broadhurst, food service attendant supervisor. “He has not only completed every task that we have given him, he is inventing new processes that are helping to streamline and expedite our mission daily. I believe he will have a long and successful career in the Navy.”

As the commanding officer of future USS America, Capt. Robert A. Hall Jr., wants to recognize sailors who are setting the resilient foundation for the nation’s newest amphibious warship.

“As the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name ‘America’, we have the opportunity to build this command with the ideals of our namesake,” Hall said. “America’s sailors and Marines demonstrate the Navy’s core values everyday through their training and initiative, and I am proud to have a crew of this caliber.”

The America class of amphibious assault ships replaces the aging Tarawa class. Its design enables it to carry a larger and more diverse complement of aircraft, including the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, the new Joint Strike Fighter, and a mix of cargo and assault helicopters.

America will be able to support a wide spectrum of military operations and missions, including putting Marines ashore for combat operations, launching air strikes, keeping sea lanes free and open for the movement of global commerce and delivering humanitarian aid following a disaster like the typhoon that devastated the Philippines in 2013.

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