Joliet native serves on advanced U.S. Navy Warship in Pacific
By Robert Zahn
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class , Navy Office of Community Outreach
Petty Officer 3rd Class Mike Kremske, a native of Joliet, Illinois, wanted to join the Navy to travel and see the world.
Now, three years later and half a world away, Kremske serves aboard one of the Navy’s most advanced amphibious ships at Fleet Activities Sasebo, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“It’s a challenge being stationed across the world but worthwhile because it makes you a better person,” said Kremske.
Kremske, a 2016 graduate of Joliet West High School, is an air traffic controller aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in Sasebo, Japan.
“I assist the ship with the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic,” said Kremske.
Kremske credits some success in the Navy to lessons learned in Juliet.
“I learned from my parents the value of having a good work ethic,” said Kremske. “They raised me right, they taught me to work hard and treat people right which I carry with me today.”
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 between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“I enjoy being deployed here because of the places that I’ve been to like Singapore, Okinawa, Japan, the Philippines,” said Kremske.
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. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “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.”
Wasp, one of the Navy’s most advanced amphibious ships, is designed to deliver Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS Wasp. More than 1,000 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weapons to maintaining the engines. An additional 1,200 Marines can be embarked. USS Wasp is capable of transporting Marines and landing them where they are needed using helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and other water-to-shore landing craft.
These ships support missions from sea to shore, special operations and other warfare missions. They also serve as secondary aviation platforms. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice, according to Navy officials.
Serving in the Navy means Kremske 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 a coast; 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,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Kremske is most proud of achieving his qualification as a final controller on the ship.
“I feel like I’m qualified enough to have a contribution to the ship and its missions,” said Kremske.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Kremske and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving your country means putting aside your personal comforts to help protect your country and allies,” said Kremske. “I love serving in the Navy. I don’t regret it one bit.”