Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Gresham native serves aboard future Navy warship

By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

MAYPORT, Fla. - Petty Officer 2nd Class Edgar Vazquez-Sierra, a native of Gresham, Oregon, serves aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Nantucket, in Mayport, Florida.
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
James Green, Navy Office of Community Outreach

PCU is a designation used by the U.S. Navy to describe crews aboard vessels under construction prior to official commissioning.

Vazquez-Sierra, a 2020 graduate of Centennial High School, joined the Navy three years ago.

“I wanted to work with my hands and I knew the Navy had opportunities in these types of trades,” said Vazquez-Sierra. “I also wanted to pursue an opportunity to work with Naval Special Warfare as a diesel mechanic.”

Today, Vazquez-Sierra relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Gresham to succeed in the military.

“I learned that if you don’t take or make decisions towards your future, you will stay in the same place and not advance or complete your goals,” said Vazquez-Sierra.

These lessons have helped Vazquez-Sierra while serving in the Navy.

Nantucket will be a fast, optimally-manned, mission-tailored surface combatant that operates in near-shore and open-ocean environments, according to Navy officials. Littoral combat ships integrate with joint, combined, manned and unmanned teams to support forward-presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence missions around the globe.

Littoral combat ships are hybrid surface combatants that lead manned-unmanned teams using unmanned aerial systems like the Fire Scout and Expeditionary Ordnance Disposal forces unmanned underwater vehicles. They conduct forward and maritime security missions like the Secretary of Defense Oceania Maritime Security Initiative. The ships also strengthen partnerships through port visits in small island nations like Tahiti and Fiji due to their shallow-depth hull.

According to Navy officials, the path to becoming an LCS sailor is unique and challenging. The culmination of their 18-month training pipeline, sailors qualify on a virtual reality simulator that is nearly identical to the ship. This intense and realistic training pipeline allows sailors to execute their roles and responsibilities immediately upon stepping on board.

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to trained sailors and a strong Navy.

"Our mission remains timeless - to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on warfighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level," said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations. "This is our calling. And I cannot imagine a calling more worthy."

Serving in the Navy means Vazquez-Sierra is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy has ships and bases around the world patrolling at all times maintaining freedom of the seas, land and air,” said Vazquez-Sierra.

Vazquez-Sierra has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.

“My proudest accomplishment was being advanced to the rank of petty officer second class in only two and a half years,” said Vazquez-Sierra.

As Vazquez-Sierra and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“To me, serving in the Navy means having the opportunity to learn and grow while also being a part of something bigger than myself,” said Vazquez-Sierra. “Regardless of how long I will stay in the Navy, this will be a stepping stone for the next chapter in my life.”

Vazquez-Sierra is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I would like to thank my wife who has always supported and pushed me, regardless of the time we spent apart due to military requirements,” added Vazquez-Sierra.