PHILIPPINE SEA (NNS) -- A Honolulu native and 2005 Wallace Ryder Farrington High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam.
Ship's Serviceman 2nd Class Olita Liu is a crew member on board the forward-deployed ship operating out of Yokosuka, Japan. Antietam is one of three cruisers forward-deployed to Yokosuka.
Navy ship's servicemen are responsible for shipboard services like the ship's store, laundry and barbershop.
"I've learned many things, but the greatest thing I learned is to appreciate all the diversity around me," said Liu. "The Navy enables me to travel the world and learn about so many cultures."
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," and 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 Soldier, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen have worked side by side with the Japan Self Defense Force to protect and advance peace and freedom."
Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly, according to Navy officials. They do everything from maintaining gas turbines and operating the highly sophisticated Aegis Weapons System to driving the ship and operating small boats.
Forward-deployed Sailors are crucial to the success of the global Navy mission and earn high praise from their leaders.
"I love the Japanese customs and just the environment," said Liu. "Everyone is so respectful and there is so much to explore and do here."
Sailors serving abroad in Japan are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions, explained Navy officials.
"I get a lot of qualifications and work done," said Liu. "I am blessed to have a great division and I have my amazing friends that are my family that I get to see the world with. I also get to travel to amazing, different places."
A Navy cruiser is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea. 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.
USS Antietam 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 its allies and partners in the region.
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For more news from Commander Task Force 70, visit www.navy.mil/local/ctf70/.