A 2014 Wekiva High School graduate and Lockhart, Florida native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile destroyer, USS Michael Murphy.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexander West is a cryptologic technician aboard the forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer operating out of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Navy cryptologic technicians are responsible for identifying ships and aircraft based on their radar signature, and for defending the ship against incoming missiles.
“This job is very rewarding,” said West. “I like that I'm a really big part in making sure everybody on board stays safe.”
Michael Murphy, measures approximately 500 feet and is powered by four gas turbines that allow the destroyer to achieve more than 30 mph in open seas.
According to Navy officials, destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-surface warfare, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas.
Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the ship's company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from maintaining engines and handling weaponry to washing dishes and preparing meals.
“This is my first ship, and it's left quite an impression on me so far," said West. "It's definitely a really close family, everybody trusts each other, and I've been able to do a lot of things that I could never have imagined."
Challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
“We're held to a very high standard, and you have to be not only well behaved, but intelligent, responsible, so everybody here can benefit and give back to the community in some way,” said West. “My grandfather did 30 years in the Navy, from World War II through Vietnam, and I'm proud to follow in his footsteps.”