WATERS OFF THE COAST OF JAPAN — A Plain City native and Jonathon Alder High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Stethem.
Petty Officer First Class James Davidson is a Fire Controlman (Aegis) aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. Stethem is one of eight destroyers forward-deployed to Yokosuka.
Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the destroyer running smoothly, according to Navy officials. They do everything from maintaining gas turbine engines and operating the highly sophisticated Aegis weapons system to driving the ship and operating small boats.
A Navy Fire Controlman operates and maintains ship’s combat and weapons direction systems, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile systems, and gun fire control systems.
“The navy has given me a lot of technical knowledge and taught me really how to deal with people because everybody is different,” said Davidson. “Learning how to talk to somebody who shares different viewpoints than you and being able to communicate with them is probably the biggest skill that I’ve gained.”
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.
“Our alliance is rooted in shared interests and shared values,” said Adm. Harry Harris, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command. “It’s not hyperbole to say that the entire world has benefited from the U.S.-Japan alliance. While our alliance helped stabilize the region after the Second World War, it also enabled the Japanese people to bring about an era of unprecedented economic growth. And for the last six decades, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have worked side by side with the Japan Self Defense Force to protect and advance peace and freedom.”
Forward-deployed sailors are crucial to the success of the global navy mission and earn high praise from their leaders.
“It really forces Junior Sailors to step up their game,” said Davidson. “Being out here with the high operational tempo that there is, you have to learn fast so people really know their jobs.”
Sailors serving abroad in Japan are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions, explained Navy officials.
“Being forward-deployed and living in Japan is nice because I like to travel,” said Davidson. “They’ve got just about everything there is out there from snowboarding, to surfing, to camping.”
A navy destroyer is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea. The ship is equipped with a vertical launching system, tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns and Phalanx close-in weapons systems.
Sailors play a vital role in the overall military mission around the world.
“The U.S.-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone for peace and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,” said Harris.
Stethem is operating as part of the Ronald Reagan Strike Group in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of it’s allies and partners in the region.