Beaufort native riding the seas halfway around the world

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By JANWEB LAGAZO

Seaman Apprentice Jessica Seigler, a native of Beaufort, said her mother had served in the Navy and she always knew she would end up serving, too.

Now, a year after enlisting and half a world away from home, Seigler 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.
“It’s always busy, especially working down in the personnel office,” she said. “We see the most people on the ship.”

Seigler is a personnel specialist aboard the Yokosuka, Japan-based ship, the only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the Navy. “I’m in charge of the command muster report,” she said. “We have to take account of the whole ship, and if something’s wrong, then it’s something we have to fix.”

Seigler credits her success in the Navy to lessons she learned in Beaufort.
“Being nice to people takes you a long way,” she said. “My job requires me to talk to people all day, and paying attention to detail helps build a relationship of trust. I like handling people’s documents like they’re my own.”

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 percent of the world’s population with between 50 to 70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.

“I’m in Japan,” Seigler said. “Not many people get to be paid to come to Japan.”

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. The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment, explained Navy officials.

“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 Seigler 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 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent 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,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. For now, Seigler is most proud of having simply joined up.

“I feel like joining the Navy gave me a sense of purpose to accomplish more,” she said.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Seigler and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.

“It’s a big responsibility,” she said. “I feel responsible to my sailors on the ship. I have to take care of them.” 

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