Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Williamsburg native serves aboard future Navy warship

By Rick Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach

MAYPORT, Fla. - Petty Officer 1st Class Dustin Liam, a native of Williamsburg, Virginia, serves aboard Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Nantucket, in Mayport, Florida.
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st
James Green

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

Liam, a 2005 graduate of Fishburne Military School, joined the Navy 16 years ago.

“I joined to get control of my life, to get structure and take responsibility for my actions,” said Liam.

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

“As a Navy brat, I moved around often, so I learned how to be flexible and adapt to great changes in life, as well as how to form friendships quickly that last a lifetime,” said Liam.

These lessons have helped Liam 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 Liam 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.

“Aside from the armaments, the Navy's core tenant of forward presence allows us to physically deter aggression, as demonstrated throughout history, such as President Roosevelt's ‘Great White Fleet,’” said Liam.

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

“My proudest accomplishment is making petty officer first class after a tumultuous career,” said Liam. “I had fully expected to retire as a petty second class, so finally advancing and scoring a 77 out of 80 on the advancement exam was a fantastic feeling,” said Liam.

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

“Serving in the Navy means following in a tradition that goes back to the very early days of human civilization, and more personally, following in the footsteps of my family,” said Liam.

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

“I would like to thank my father, Benjamin, and mother, Digna, for providing a strong moral foundation,” added Liam. “I would also like to thank my family and friends for all their love and support. I'm sorry I wasn't always the best person, but I thank you for helping me be a better one.”