Lifestyle

Published on May 11th, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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Lexington, S.C. native serves with Littoral Combat Ship Crew 203

Pictured Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Gunter

by Lt. j.g. Christopher Hanson, Navy Office of Community Outreach

SAN DIEGO – A 2002 White-Knoll High School graduate and Lexington, South Carolina native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a capable crew working aboard one of the country’s most versatile combat ships.

Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Gunter is a machinist’s mate and a member of Crew 203 the “Sea Dogs”, which serve aboard the Independence variant of littoral combat ships based in San Diego.

Gunter is part of a 53-person crew, one of several crews that rotate between USS Independence (LCS 2) and USS Coronado (LCS 4), as part of a unique crewing concept called “3-2-1,” where three crews serve aboard two different littoral combat ships, one of which is deployed. This innovative manning concept allows the LCS to spend more time forward deployed without overtaxing the crew.

As a 30-year-old with numerous responsibilities, Gunter is learning about himself as a Sailor and a person. He is also getting a firsthand look at the LCS, and its ability to deliver a lethal punch while operating in coastal regions as well as on open oceans.

Designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft, the USS Independence is 419 feet long and 104 feet wide and weighs nearly 3,100 tons fully loaded. Twin gas turbine engines push the ship through the water at more than 40 knots.

“I was stationed on a destroyer for six years and was part of four deployments. I’ve been to almost 20 countries and have traveled extensively,” said Gunter.

The path to becoming an LCS Sailor is a long one. Following an 18-month training pipeline, Sailors have to qualify on a simulator that is nearly identical to the ship. This intense and realistic training pipeline allows sailors to execute their roles and responsibilities immediately upon stepping onboard.

“I trained specifically for about six months as I already had much of the training completed. My focus has been more on diesel engines for this command,” said Gunter.

But more than just their primary job, Gunter said it’s important for Sailors to work together and often do work outside their normal tasks.

As a crewmember aboard one of the Navy’s newest ships, Gunter said he knows they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“The Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is designed to provide war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility that contribute to maritime dominance and provide improved access for the joint force,” said Capt. Warren Buller II, Commodore of Littoral Combat Ship Squadron One (LCSRON 1), based in San Diego. “The ship requires the addition of a mission package comprised of the primary mission module plus the mission module crew and aviation detachment to conduct its primary missions. The Sailors assigned to them, epitomize the ‘can do’ spirit of LCS.”

Gunter said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, but that it’s not an easy path to take.

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