Seaman Lucy Lukeman, a Glendale native, knew she wanted to travel, and figured that financially serving in the Navy would be a good way to do it.
Now, just a year and a half later and a world away, Lukeman serves aboard one of the Navy’s most advanced amphibious ships at Fleet Activities Sasebo, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“It’s a little bit difficult, mostly because of the time zone difference from home. Most of the time it’s either late at night or early in the morning at home and it’s inconvenient to talk,” she said. “But off days are nice, and the chain of command is pretty good.”
Lukeman, a 2017 graduate of Deer Valley High School, is an operations specialist aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in Sasebo, Japan.
“We’re responsible for tracking and monitoring other ships to ensure we don’t collide,” Lukeman said.
She credits her success in the Navy to lessons learned since trekking out from Glendale.
“Remember the 12th General Order: the chief is always right,” she said. “It basically means listen to your chief. You learn to respect what the senior people are telling you.”
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border, and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50% of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“It’s pretty interesting to go out and meet people from a different country and see the differences between us,” she said. “It’s nice here. The Japanese are very nice people, very polite, the food is good.”
With more than 50% 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. The Navy’s presence in Sasebo is part of that longstanding commitment.
“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is, and will continue to be, our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world — people who’ve made a choice and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”
Wasp, one of the Navy’s most advanced amphibious ships, is designed to deliver Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS Wasp. More than 1,000 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weapons to maintaining the engines. An additional 1,200 Marines can be embarked. USS Wasp is capable of transporting Marines and landing them where they are needed using helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and other water-to-shore landing craft.
These ships support missions from sea to shore, special operations and other warfare missions. They also serve as secondary aviation platforms. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice, according to Navy officials.
Serving in the Navy means Lukeman is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, 80% of the world’s population lives close to a coast and 90% of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Lukeman and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“I would recommend service,” she said. “It helps you prepare for your future, and you get to see a lot of places. It’s been positive overall.”