By MC1 John Scorza PCU America (LHA 6) Public Affairs
PASCAGOULA, Miss. – A graduate of Deep Creek High School is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a hand-selected crew charged with bringing the Navy’s newest and most advanced amphibious assault ship into service.
Operations Specialist 1st Class Martina Stovall, from Chesapeake, Va., is serving aboard the amphibious assault ship America in Pascagoula, Miss. America, the first ship of its class, recently completed construction and was turned over to the Navy and her crew during a ship custody transfer ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding, April 10. After the ship is certified and sea trials are complete, the ship will be placed into commission as USS America and will be homeported in San Diego.
Stovall and the rest of the 1,000-person crew are slowly bringing the ship to life by overseeing construction, testing new equipment, training on new systems, and testing the ship at sea. The crew will eventually grow to more than 1,100 Sailors and nearly 1,900 embarked Marines when the ship is at sea. America is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide and weighs nearly 45,000 tons. The ship has twin gas-turbine engines that push the ship through the water at more than 22 knots.
As one of the Sailors who will commission the ship, Stovall is getting a firsthand look at the improvements the Navy has incorporated into the design of the ship: a more fuel-efficient gas turbine propulsion plant, increased capacity for aviation operations, advanced weapons systems, and sophisticated electronics and communications suites.
America Sailors know they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes. Stovall said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy and helping to build a crew and a ship from scratch is something she never expected to be doing just a couple years ago.
The 31-year-old Sailor realizes the historical value of what it means to not only be selected to be part of a commissioning crew but to help commission a ship named after her country.
“I’m honored to be assigned to this ship,” she said. “This all feels historical in the sense that we are one of the few ships to ever be named America and also because of 9/11. There has not been a ship in the water named ‘America’ since before 9/11, and now it seems that we are stronger as a country and even stronger now that we have the nation’s namesake back on the waterfront.”
Stovall said she is honored to be a part of the America commissioning crew and thankful for the chance to do something she loves.
“I like when we start running drills,” she said. “The tension rises within the command information center. You can see everyone inside manning his or her consoles and working whatever problem we see in front of us. It’s pretty exciting.”
In addition to being excited about an opportunity to help commission the America, Stovall is also excited for her future in the Navy.
“My goal is to one day become a medical administration officer,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in the medical field. I love helping people and love the way it feels when you help someone that really needs care. I enjoy being in the Navy, and I love the medical field. So, if I can do both, then it’s a win-win situation.”
Stovall’s supervisor said she believes Stovall is an outstanding Sailor and will do many great things going forward.
Although she is an operations specialist, Stovall is currently working with the ship’s security division. There she has made a dramatic impact on the ship’s readiness.
“Petty Officer Stovall is fantastic,” said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Melodie Kosiba, security division leading petty officer. “She led five Sailors in scrubbing more than 500 ship self-defense records for the anti-terrorism force protection assessment, in which the ship scored a perfect 100 percent. She’s always has a positive attitude and takes charge of whatever is placed in front of her.”
As the commanding officer of future USS America, Capt. Robert A. Hall, Jr., wants to recognize Sailors who are setting the resilient foundation for the nation’s newest amphibious warship.
“As the fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name ‘America’, we have the opportunity to build this command with the ideals of our namesake,” said Hall. “America’s Sailors and Marines demonstrate the Navy’s core values everyday through their training and initiative, and I am proud to have a crew of this caliber.”
The America class of amphibious assault ships replaces the aging Tarawa class. Its design enables it to carry a larger and more diverse complement of aircraft, including the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey, the new Joint Strike Fighter, and a mix of cargo and assault helicopters. America will be able to support a wide spectrum of military operations and missions, including putting Marines ashore for combat operations, launching air strikes, keeping sea lanes free and open for the movement of global commerce, and delivering humanitarian aid following a disaster like the typhoon that devastated the Philippines in 2013.
Photo caption: 140620-N-YB590-002 PASCAGOULA, Miss. (June 20, 2014) Operations Specialist 1st Class Martina Stovall, assigned to Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) America (LHA 6) Operations Department, was recently recognized by her department for outstanding performance. The U.S. Navy officially accepted delivery of the ship during a custody transfer ceremony, April 10. America is the first ship of its class, replacing the Tarawa-class of amphibious assault ships and is scheduled to be commissioned Oct. 11, 2014 in San Francisco. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class John Scorza/Released)