Social Media Websites Help Keep Makin Island Sailors and Marines Connected 
By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Donnie W. Ryan, USS Makin Island Public Affairs 
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea - The leadership of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) continues to use social media as a valuable communication tool to keep friends and family members informed on the ship's current operations.

With the help of the ship's public affairs office, Facebook has quickly become one of the primary communication tools used to tell the story of the ship's maiden deployment.

The deployment of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) has also been the subject of several blogs with accompanying photographs posted to Navy Live, the Navy's official blog.

"Along with our hybrid technology, being on the maiden deployment has increased the public's interest in our ship and many people want to see how the new technology improves our ability to perform our mission," said Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) John Lill, who administers the ship's Facebook page. "There is definitely more interest in our deployment than previous ARGs and our public affairs team is working hard to provide timely and quality content to our followers."

Lill said the Facebook page really started to take off earlier this year as the ship began to prepare for its maiden deployment and more imagery and other content was posted to the page.

"Earlier this year, we were selected as the Navy's Facebook 'Ship of the Month' which not only highlighted the work that we had been doing but encouraged the media division to take our Facebook page to another level becoming more kinetic with our audience through video and photo posts," said Lill. "The response we have had from fans and families has been overwhelming. I feel as though the work we are doing now is providing a sense of relief and comfort to the families who are missing their Sailors and Marines on deployment. "

Lill said he posts photographs, video clips and links to print stories almost daily to the Facebook page. The Facebook page is also utilized as a way to disseminate important information from the ship's family readiness group and ombudsman team.

The Makin Island Facebook page currently has more than 5,200 "likes" and is home to hundreds of photographs from the current deployment.

Families of Makin Island Sailors and Marines say they are fortunate to have the Facebook page.

"I absolutely love everything about the page," said Terry Brumbalow, a Navy mom from Euless, Texas whose son Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Jerad Brumbalow is assigned to Makin Island's weapons department. "If I had to pick a favorite, it would be all the pictures."

Brumbalow said she has been a Facebook user for almost five years, and began following Makin Island on Facebook about a year ago when her son received orders to the ship. She said she checks the page several times each day to find out the latest news about the ship and her son.

"Just keep the pictures and video coming," said Brumbalow. "For a lot of us, your page allows us to see and share with our loved ones."

Being from Texas, Brumbalow said the Facebook page also allows her and her family to learn more about the Navy, the sea and the nation's maritime strategy including humanitarian assistance missions and community service projects.

"I would encourage every Sailor and Marine on board USS Makin Island to make their family aware, if they aren't already, of the Facebook page," said Brumbalow. "It is an awesome way to feel connected."

In addition to the use of social media, Makin Island's public affairs team has also continued to use the ship's official website and traditional news and photo releases to help tell the story of the ship's maiden deployment.

Makin Island and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit departed San Diego Nov. 14 and are currently deployed to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR), supporting the nation's maritime strategy.

Makin Island is the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the Navy expects over the course of the ship's lifecycle, to see fuel savings of more than $250 million, proving the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation.

The 7th Fleet AOR includes more than 52 million square miles of the Pacific and Indian oceans, stretching from the international date line to the east coast of Africa, and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south.

More than half of the world's population lives within the 7th Fleet AOR. In addition, more than 80 percent of that population lives within 500 miles of the oceans, which means this is an inherently maritime region.

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