Provided by U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach
Seaman Apprentice Ifeoma Nwabuoku, a native of Dumfries, joined the Navy because she aspired to be that positive role model for others.
Now, one year later and half a world away at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Nwabuoku serves aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of the leading-edge of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“Being on a destroyer is fun but it’s also hard because more is expected of each person,” said Nwabuoku. “It’s a smaller ship so it’s like a tight-knit family. We do critical work that’s also breathtaking knowing what type of work we do. At the end of the day it’s worth the hard work that we put in.”
What She Does
Nwabuoku, a 2018 graduate of Potomac Senior High School, works in the deck department aboard the Yokosuka, Japan-based ship, one of several in its class forward-deployed to the region.
“I oversee the gear lockers and make sure everyone has the right parts and tools,” said Nwabuoku. “I also stand security watch to make sure the wrong person doesn’t get onto the ship.”
Nwabuoku credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Dumfries.
“One thing I learned from my family is do what you’re told because there is usually a reason for it,” said Nwabuoku. “The mentality that I grew up on helps with the leadership skills that I need in the Navy. It helps me be a better person. People can rely on me to get the job done.”
The 7th Fleet
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 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“We are always completing a mission on this ship,” said Nwabuoku. “We are always doing a worth-while mission so it’s busy but a different and good experience.”
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.”
Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They are 510 feet long and armed with tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, Standard Missile-3 and newer variants of the SM missile family, advanced gun systems and close-in gun systems. Destroyers are deployed globally and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious readiness groups.
Their presence helps the Navy control the sea. Sea control is the precondition for everything else the Navy does. It cannot project power, secure the commons, deter aggression, or assure allies without the ability to control the seas when and where desired.
USS McCampbell has anti-aircraft capability armed with long range missiles intended for air defense to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.
Serving in the Navy
Serving in the Navy means Nwabuoku 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.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Nwabuoku is most proud of becoming a leading seaman on the ship.
“Not everyone is worthy of being a leader so I felt honored when asked to lead the new seamen coming on board,” said Nwabuoku.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Nwabuoku and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means making my family proud because I’m the first person in my generation who joined the military,” said Nwabuoku. “I also pray one day that I get to the point where people around the world know who I am and that they can aspire to be like me.”