PASCAGOULA, MISS — A graduate of Edmond North High School is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a hand-selected crew charged with bringing the Navy’s newest and most advanced amphibious assault ship into service.
Seaman William Pinckney, of Edmond, is serving aboard the amphibious assault ship America in Pascagoula, Miss. America, the first ship of its class, recently completed construction and was turned over to the Navy and her crew during a ship custody transfer ceremony at Ingalls Shipbuilding on April 10. After the ship is certified and sea trials are complete, the ship will be placed into commission as USS America and will be homeported in San Diego.
Pinckney and the rest of the 900-person crew are slowly bringing the ship to life by overseeing construction, testing new equipment, training on new systems, standing watches and preparing for potential shipboard casualties like fires, flooding and security breaches through continuous training evolutions. The crew will grow to more than 1,100 sailors and nearly 1,900 embarked Marines when the ship is at sea.
America is 844 feet long, 106 feet wide and weighs nearly 45,000 tons. The ship has twin gas-turbine engines that push the ship through the water at more than 22 knots.
Building a legacy
As one of the sailors who will commission the ship, Pinckney is getting a firsthand look at the improvements the Navy has incorporated into the design of the ship: a more fuel-efficient gas turbine propulsion plant, increased capacity for aviation operations, advanced weapons systems, and sophisticated electronics and communications suites.
America sailors know they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes. Pinckney said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy and helping to build a crew and a ship from scratch is something he never expected to be doing just a couple years ago.
“It’s an honor to be assigned to a ship named after our country,” said Pinckney, 21. “Our ship is a direct representation of our country and the face of the Navy. Other ships may go into port around the world, and based on the name, people may not know where it’s from. This is not the case with our ship.”
Pinckney is assigned to the ship’s food service division, where he discovered a career path he would like to follow.
“I really want to become a culinary specialist,” he said. “I enjoy cooking and working hard. This seems like a great fit for me, and I’m really looking forward to getting started. Having a good meal on board is really important and directly affects people’s moods. When you serve something awesome, it makes people happy, not just for a few minutes, but throughout the day.”
Recently, Pinckney was selected as the ship’s food service attendant of the month.
“I’ve put in a lot of hard work since we moved aboard,” he said. “It’s always great to be recognized for what you do. There are a lot of hard-working sailors working there, and it’s humbling to be selected from among them.”
In addition to being excited about an opportunity to help commission the America, Pinckney is also excited for his future in the Navy.
“There are a lot of opportunities and benefits of being a service member,” he said. “I’m less than a year into my first enlistment. I realize that I have a lot to learn about the Navy. I’m happy to be here and proud to be a part of this outstanding crew.”
John Scorza is a mass communications petty officer first class with the U.S. Navy.