SASEBO, Japan – Ensign Julian Turner, a 2012 Orange High School graduate, was recruited to play for the Navy football team. He is glad he took the offer to play for Navy football because of the all the opportunities the Navy has to offer. He was inspired to become a better leader so he continued to serve.
Now, two years later and half a world away, Turner serves aboard one of the Navy’s most dependable amphibious ships at Fleet Activities Sasebo, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“Now that we are out of dry dock, we are starting to deploy, so it can get hectic,” Turner said. “Everything is always on the go. We have a loaded schedule and a lot of tasking. The good thing that I think anybody can take from it is that you get countless learning opportunities.”
Turner is a main propulsion officer aboard the forward-deployed Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Germantown in Sasebo, Japan.
“I’m the primary administrative officer in the division,” Turner said. “I manage a division of 50 people, ensuring the propulsion plant functions as it should.”
Turner credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Northeast Ohio.
“My grandpa, Clifford, always said to me, ‘Respect the process, not the product,’” Turner said. “That has stuck with me even today, because you need to know why you are doing something. You need to remember to respect the things that you are learning and gaining. You have to think about how you are growing as a person instead of just thinking about the final goal.”
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India-Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the north to the Antarctic in the south. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with 50 to 70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“The schedule is a high-operational tempo, because the deployments are shorter but more frequent,” Turner said. “On the plus side, we get to see some cool ports. Also, we had an extended dry-dock period, which can present many challenges in itself, so it was good to finally get out to sea. I’m ready to get out to sea.”
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. The Navy’s presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment.
“The Navy is forward deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace. It is and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who’ve made a choice and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”
USS Germantown is 610 feet long. The ship can travel at speed in excess of 20 nautical mph. Germantown is one of eight Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships currently in service. The ship’s primary purpose is to launch equipment and personnel for amphibious missions. Approximately 22 officers and 390 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the ship running smoothly. The jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
Serving in the Navy means Turner is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to coasts; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Turner is most proud of graduating from the United States Naval Academy.
“Graduating from the Naval Academy was one of my proudest moments,” he said. “It allowed me to have the opportunities to serve and to become that leader that I want to become.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Turner and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“I serve in the Navy, because I’m one of the few people who is doing what most others are not willing to do, making that ultimate sacrifice, acting selflessly,” Turner said. “The Navy gives me a sense of pride and a sense of purpose.”