MAYPORT, Fla. - Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Olsen, a native of Neosho, Missouri, serves aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Nantucket, in Mayport, Florida.
|Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class
PCU is a designation used by the U.S. Navy to describe crews aboard vessels under construction prior to official commissioning.
Olsen, a 2011 graduate of Seneca High School, joined the Navy 11 years ago.
“I joined the Navy to travel the world,” said Olsen. "France was my favorite port call because I got a lot of time to visit the country."
Today, Olsen relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Neosho to succeed in the military.
“One lesson I learned was that choices I make now will impact the rest of my life,” said Olsen. "I also learned I should do everything to the best of my ability."
These lessons have helped Olsen 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 Olsen 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 instrumental in maintaining the security of our coasts and protecting the idea of freedom and democracy,” said Olsen.
Olsen and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“I am most proud of advancing in rank to petty officer first class,” said Olsen. "For me, being in the Navy for 11 years, I have the experience and knowledge to help junior sailors."
As Olsen and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.
“To me, serving means I get to help people in a lot of ways,” said Olsen. "I get to help and protect those people around the world who cannot protect themselves."
Olsen is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.
“I'd like to thank my parents, Mike and Annie Olsen, for their support,” said Olsen. "I'd also like to thank my brother, Cody, and his wife, Courtney, for taking me to the recruiting station for all the meetings.”
“I plan on using my tuition assistance to pay for my teaching degree,” added Olsen. "When I retire, I plan on becoming an elementary school teacher."