Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Black, a native of Glendale, joined the Navy to carry on the family tradition of military service.
Now, nine years later and half a world away, Black serves aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of the leading-edge of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“Being stationed on a carrier is a beautiful thing when it is moving because it becomes alive when operating at sea,” Black said.
Black, a 2010 graduate of Ironwood High School, is a mass communication specialist aboard the Yokosuka, Japan-based ship, the only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the Navy.
“I manage maintenance for the graphics media department, ensuring that all our spaces are preserved to meet the longevity requirement of 60 years of service,” he said.
He credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Glendale.
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.
“We get to deploy frequently and hit some awesome ports,” Black said. “The food in Japan is amazing.”
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 Yokosuka is part of that longstanding commitment, Navy officials explained.
“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.”
Named in honor of former President Ronald Reagan, the carrier is longer than three football fields, measuring nearly 1,100 feet. The ship, a true floating city, weighs more than 100,000 tons and has a flight deck that is 252 feet wide. Two nuclear reactors can push the ship through the water at more than 35 mph.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard the carrier. Approximately 3,200 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the aircraft carrier running smoothly — this includes everything from handling weapons to operating nuclear reactors. Another 2,500 men and women form the air wing responsible for flying and maintaining more than 70 aircraft aboard the ship.
Ronald Reagan, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea.
Serving in the Navy means Black 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.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Black is most proud of making the rank to first class petty officer.
“It was a struggle and hard work and years of work to obtain it,” he said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Black and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“The Navy has become a huge family for me and they support me through the good times and the bad times,” Black said.