by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Robert Zahn, Navy Office of Community Outreach
A Columbia native and 2015 Spring Valley High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile cruiser, USS Antietam.
Seaman Alan Ayala is a cryptologic technician technical aboard the forward deployed Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. Antietam is one of three cruisers forward-deployed in Yokosuka.
A Navy cryptologic technician technical is responsible for anti-ship missile defense equipment and identifying ship contacts within the vicinity.
“I learned that being humble and working hard are valuable traits that I got from my hometown which carries over to my Navy career,” said Ayala.
With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world.
“Our alliance is rooted in shared interests and shared values,” said Adm. Harry Harris, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. “It’s not hyperbole to say that the entire world has benefited from the U.S.-Japan alliance. While our alliance helped stabilize the region after the Second World War, it also enabled the Japanese people to bring about an era of unprecedented economic growth. And for the last six decades, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have worked side by side with the Japan Self Defense Force to protect and advance peace and freedom.”
Around 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly, according to Navy officials. They do everything from maintaining gas turbine engines and operating the highly sophisticated Aegis weapons system to driving the ship and operating small boats.
Forward-deployed sailors are crucial to the success of the global Navy mission and earn high praise from their leaders.
“Being deployed overseas is tough because we are underway a lot,” said Ayala. “Readying the ship for deployments is a lot of work but the extensive training we get is great. I was in a repair locker helping out with various tasks during multiple damage control certifications and it was great because I was able help because of my extensive knowledge on the equipment.”
Sailors serving abroad in Japan are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions, explained Navy officials.
“Serving for the people back home and to know that they are safe is what serving in the Navy means for me,” said Ayala.
A Navy cruiser is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea. The ship is equipped with a vertical launching system, tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns, and a phalanx close-in weapons system.
Sailors play a vital role in the overall military mission around the world.
“The U.S.-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone for peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” said Harris.
Photo By Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary Ward