The commissioning ceremony for the future USS Tripoli is scheduled for Pensacola in June. In the run up, members of the local commissioning committee and Navy League have traveled over to Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Miss., to get an early look at the new amphibious assault ship and meet some of the crew.
In part three of our series, we’ll meet two crewmembers, who’ll be getting their first experience at sea.
“My name is Daniel Avery, and I am an HM2,” said Avery, clarifying that he’s a Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class. “I’m from North Carolina by way of many other states, and now my home of record is Pennsylvania.”
At the time of our interview, Avery was looking ahead to his 38th birthday. He’s been in the Navy for about five years.
“What I do in the Navy is not so much direct patient care, as a traditional hospital corpsman would do, but more public-health-related,” Avery explained. “So, that entails more environment-health aspects, so we’re inspecting living spaces, berthing, laundry, food facilities.”
Avery’s job also involves industrial hygiene. In this regard, such duties include, mitigating risk for the crew in terms of noise, hearing conservation, sight conservation, heat stress and water testing.
“And, there are only two of us on the ship,” said Avery in reference to the specific job to be performed by himself and another first-class corpsman. He also acknowledged the rest of the medical crew and other supporting staff.
“I am Christian Matthews, and I’m an AT3, Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class,” said Matthews, as he introduced himself.
Matthews, a 20-year-old native of Atlanta, Ga., has been in the Navy for about a year-and-a-half, joining in June 2018.
Already, he has ties to Pensacola, where the commissioning ceremony will be held.
“Yes, I was in Pensacola from August of ’18 until February 14, 2019,” said Matthews.
Additionally, he shared that his girlfriend moved to Atlanta from Pensacola about three years ago.
On the new USS Tripoli, Matthews will work as a calibration technician.
“I will be in the cal lab, working on any pieces of gear, any equipment that another shop may need, any pressure gauges,” he said.
The calibration lab technician referred back to his new shipmate, Hospital Corpsman Daniel Avery, to help explain what he does, “Maybe if he (Avery) needs specific equipment for his job. I would bring it in, work on it, possibly fix it if it needs it, and possibly replace it. Really, anything that needs to be in a specific range or anything like that will come through me and through my shop and be returned or replaced.”
This assignment to the new USS Tripoli is the first sea duty for both of the young crewmembers.
“Yes ma’am, first ship,” responded Avery, as Matthews also concurred.
“I’m fairly excited. It’s a lot of firsts,” said Avery. “The first pre-com, first ship, different coast, and just the day to day tasks have kept us with baited breath on what we can expect and what we can do.”
While the construction phase wraps up, there’s been a lot to do for those who will serve aboard the ship.
“There’ve been some T-A-D (Temporary Additional Duty) opportunities, or chances for us to go aboard other commands, other ships, so we get a taste of what our normal job will look like once we get aboard our ship,” Avery noted. “There’s been a lot of planning, a lot of phasing, a lot of inspections, and whatnot, so we’re pretty busy.”
Avery says much of their preparation has taken place in San Diego, Calif., where the ship will be homeported.
Meantime, Aviation Electronics Technician 3rd Class Christian Matthews pointed out that he and his colleagues have also been keeping busy.
“There’s about eight of us in the cal lab. Six of them are up in Virginia right now; they’ve been there for about a month now. They went through and calibrated over 400 pieces of gear that we’re going to need for the ship,” Matthews said.
Specifically, Matthews is spending much of his time helping those who serve under him get their various qualifications, and more training.
“Really, it’s just a lot of getting some extra training and extra knowledge about all the different systems and stuff like that.”
Daniel Avery reported to the ship in Pascagoula, over the summer, while Christian Matthews arrived just a couple of months ago.
The remainder of the future USS Tripoli’s crew is expected to be in place by late February.