Joplin native has sea legs
February 18, 2015
YOKOSUKA, Japan – A 2012 Warsaw High School graduate and Joplin native is serving aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), living and working at the Navy’s forward-deployed base south of Tokyo.

Fireman Brian Shotwell, pictured, is a machinist’s mate aboard the destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, which is located approximately 35 miles south of Tokyo and accommodates the United States’ furthest forward-deployed naval forces.

An Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, Fitzgerald is 505 feet long or more than 1 1/2 football fields. The ship is 66 feet wide, weighs more than 9,200 tons, and its four gas turbine engines can push the ship through the ocean at nearly 35 miles per hour. The ship is named in honor of Lt. William Charles Fitzgerald, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism on August 7, 1967 in Vietnam.

Shotwell has numerous responsibilities. He also is proud of the work he is doing as part of the Fitzgerald’s 300-member crew, living thousands of miles from home.

“I work on and support auxiliary systems for the ship,” he said. “All of our systems make it possible for the other systems to work. I like that the Fitzgerald is very tight knit, we take care of our own,” Shotwell said.

USS FITZGERALD

“Fitzgerald sailors represent every state in the union as well as a diversity of ethnicity. It is an honor to lead and serve with the finest sailors the nation has to offer,” said Cmdr. Chris England, the ship’s commanding officer. “These sailors should be justifiably proud of their accomplishments – a direct reflection of their dedication to mission accomplishment, motivation, and commitment to the Navy.”

Approximately 40 officers and 260 enlisted men make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the two billion dollar destroyer running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.

Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas. With multi-mission capabilities in surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense, and humanitarian assistance, Arleigh Burke destroyers excel as the Navy’s premier fighting warship.

Assigned to U.S. Seventh Fleet, Fitzgerald sailors are continuously on watch throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, acting as America’s first responders in that part of the world.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile combat ships, Shotwell and other Fitzgerald sailors understand they are part of a forward-deployed team that is heavily relied upon to help protect and defend America across the world’s oceans.

“Being a Sailor is great, we work hard and play harder,” said Shotwell. “I love that I get to see the world and have opportunities that I would never had if I hadn’t joined the Navy.”

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