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Naples native serving aboard one of the U.S. Navy’s ‘Stealth Ships’

June 24, 2016
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

BATH, Maine A 2002 Lely High School graduate and Naples, Fla., native is serving aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer that, while more than 600 feet long, looks as small as a fishing boat to enemy radar.

Lieutenant Dylan Ross is the operations officer aboard the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor, currently under construction at a shipyard in Bath, Maine.

A Navy operations officer is responsible for managing the ship's operational schedule.

"I work with the best Sailors in the Navy. My shipmates are talented, energetic, and fantastic to be around and it's a privilege to work beside them every day," said Ross.

For the first time in 25 years, there is true competition for control of the seas, Navy officials assert. Monsoor has been designed to combat the threats of today as well as those of coming decades.

Looking more like a space ship than a surface ship, Monsoor has a unique wave-piercing inverted bow that increases speed and stability by cutting through the water. The ship was also built with an innovative design that dramatically reduces its radar signature, giving it the advantage of stealth, something generally associated with military aircraft, and not with Navy destroyers.

The second ship of the class, which will ultimately include three ships, Monsoor has advanced technologies in nearly every area including energy efficiency, main engines, weapons systems, shipboard electronics and sensors.

When at sea, the ship will stand ready for a variety of missions including attacking targets on land it carries cruise missiles and features two advanced gun systems capable of firing long-range projectiles more than 70 miles -- hunting and tracking submarines, airspace surveillance, and providing support to special operations forces such as U.S. Navy SEALS.

"The sophisticated new technology incorporated aboard this ship, combined with its multi-mission capabilities, will ensure it is a relevant and integral part of our battle force for years to come," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, prior to the ship's christening ceremony.

That the innovative new ship is part of a class of ships named for Admiral Elmo "Bud" Zumwalt, Jr., is no coincidence, the Navy says. Zumwalt was the Navy's youngest Chief of Naval Operations and one of the most influential Sailors of the 20th Century, radically changing the face of the Navy as both a surface warrior and a social reformer.

During World War II, he earned a Bronze Star with Valor for his actions during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. After the war, Zumwalt served at a variety of commands, honing his expertise in surface warfare, including Commander of Naval Forces Vietnam, where he revolutionized the use of riverine forces.

As Chief of Naval Operations, Zumwalt was legendary for his Z-Grams, personal messages and directives sent directly to Sailors. Z-Grams ushered in many monumental changes in the fleet, such as benefits for minorities and women, relaxed grooming standards, and better quality of life for the average Sailor. Z-66 promoted equal opportunity in the Navy, pushing the Navy forward in a racially divided military.

The Zumwalt-class also helps the Navy be more green. It is the first U.S. Navy ship built with an innovative integrated power system, which provides power to virtually all ship's needs, including the main engines, electrical and combat systems and other onboard equipment, according to Navy officials. This allows for significant energy savings and ensures that the ship can be outfitted in the future with high-energy weapons and sensors as they are developed.

"This extremely capable warship is a lasting tribute to the ship's namesake, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, whose bravery and sacrifice serves as an example for each of us, every day," said Capt. Scott Smith, the Monsoor's commanding officer. "The sailors selected for duty on the Monsoor are the best in the Navy; with this new class of ship they will lead change in the future surface Navy."

With a crew of less than 150 sailors, sailors aboard the Monsoor must specialize in a range of skills to keep each part of the destroyer running smoothly, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from caring for fellow crewmembers to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.

"It's a privilege to bring a ship this advanced to life and it's humbling to learn about the ship's namesake and everything that he brought to his country, teammates, and family and learning about him has challenged me to become a better person," said Ross.

Fabrication of Monsoor is over 85 percent complete. The ship was christened on June 18 and was "floated" in the modern-day version of a ship-launching. The ship will begin a period of testing and evaluation to bring its many technologically advanced systems to life prior to delivery of the ship next year.

While the ship is undergoing construction, many sailors use this opportunity to improve upon their own personal and professional goals. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to challenging conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.

"Military service runs in my family and I want to continue that proud heritage. Serving in the Navy means giving back. So much has been given to me just by being an American citizen. It is rewarding having a job that helps perpetuate the benefits that we have as American citizens," said Ross.



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