NORFOLK, Va. — A 1992 Paul G. Blazer High School graduate and Ashland native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile cruiser USS Anzio.
Petty Officer 1st Class Eric Stevens is an information systems technician aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser operating out of Norfolk.
A Navy information systems technician is responsible for maintaining the shipboard computers and information network.
“I enjoy the opportunities,” Stevens said. “This is my fourth ship and the job changes with every command. I never really have to do the same things twice.”
Commissioned in May 1992, the USS Anzio is about 567 feet long and powered by four gas turbines that allow the cruiser to achieve over 30 mph in open seas.
Cruisers are tactical multimission 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, cruisers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas.
“I am very proud of Anzio’s numerous accomplishments during our recent eight-month overseas deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Capt. Frank X. Castellano, commanding officer of Anzio.
“It takes significant teamwork and dedication to duty in order to achieve this success. Eric was a vital member of Team Anzio who definitely contributed to our mission.”
With a crew of more than 300 sailors, jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the destroyer running smoothly, according to Navy officials. Jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
“This ship is unique because of our crew,” Stevens said.
“I haven’t had a crew that has been this close in awhile. It seems like no matter how strenuous or exhausted the crew is they still have the ability to accomplish ‘one more thing.’ Every time something new came up everyone was able to go over one more hurdle.”
Challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated and quickly adapts to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.
“Serving in the Navy has been a family tradition,” Stevens said.
“My grandfather was a chief in World War II, and it has been an honor to follow in his footsteps. It wasn’t just a job, it was my way of taking care of my family. It is open to everybody, but not everybody does it. It has just been a great honor to be able to serve.”