Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Lugoff native serves aboard future Navy warship

By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

MAYPORT, Fla. - Petty Officer 2nd Class Kelsey Fulleda, a native of Lugoff, South Carolina, serves aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Marinette, 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.

Fulleda, a 2012 graduate of Lugoff Elgin High School, joined the Navy over 10 years ago.

“I joined the Navy to better myself and see the world,” said Fulleda. “Since I was a kid, I wanted the opportunity to serve our country and make my family proud.”

Today, Fulleda relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Lugoff to succeed in the military.

“My hometown taught me the importance of friendships and strength in community,” said Fulleda. “A little kindness and hospitality goes a long way.”

These lessons have helped Fulleda while serving in the Navy.

Marinette 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 Fulleda 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 is vital in providing maritime security and protects our coast and this great Nation across the world,” said Fulleda. “Whether in the air or out to sea, the Navy is always ready to answer the Nation’s call and defend this great country we live in.”

Fulleda and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“My proudest accomplishment in the Navy was getting my degree and passing my GI Bill off to my kids, so they will not have to worry about the high costs of college,” said Fulleda.

As Fulleda has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.

“Serving in the Navy has been a rewarding experience,” said Fulleda. “I have gotten to travel the world and see things that some people will never see in a lifetime. I love and am truly honored to serve this country and be a part of a force that is greater than myself.”

Fulleda is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I would like to thank my mom, Angela Plumely, for always supporting me,” added Fulleda.