Female sailors assigned to the Navy’s forward-deployed Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) executed their first all-female “Sea and Anchor” detail, while pulling into Sembawang, Singapore, Oct. 17.
Historically, female manning on board Surface Navy ships averages less than a third of overall personnel on board; McCampbell’s female sailors account for 40% of the crew.
“We have a unique opportunity to showcase the remarkable achievements of our female surface warfare Sailors on board McCampbell. I couldn’t be more proud of all of our Sailors, male and female, as they answer our nation’s call on a daily basis,” Lt. Cmdr. Emily Merritt, of Columbia, Missouri, remarked as the ship prepared for a replenishment at sea. Merritt is the Senior Watch Officer on board, responsible for overseeing all qualifications and watchbills throughout the command. She is also the ship’s most senior female officer.
From the engine rooms in the bowels of the ship, to the pilot house overlooking the horizon, female sailors manned all critical controlling stations on board McCampbell during “Sea and Anchor” detail. “Sea and Anchor” details are one of the most challenging evolutions, and require highly skilled and experienced watchstanders to maneuver the ship underway or to moor, whether pier side or at anchorage. The all-female team navigated the ship through one of the busiest waterways in the world to arrive in Singapore for some well-deserved liberty.
The following positions were manned by female Sailors: Officer of the Deck, in charge of the safe navigation of the ship; Engineering Officer of the Watch, directing all operations of the ship’s propulsion plant; and Tactical Action Officer, directing the employment of the ship’s combats systems and weapons systems. There were also female Sailors serving as lookouts, Quartermaster of the Watch, Boatswain’s Mate of the Watch, Helm Safety Officer, Combat Information Center Watch Officer, Engine Room Operator, phone talkers, and line handlers.
The female driving it all, quite literally, was Seaman Recruit Latajha Bellamy, from Jacksonville, Florida, as the helmsman. At just 19 years old, Bellamy stood skillfully behind the helm, maneuvering the ship meticulously with course changes as small as half a degree at a time. Bellamy is one of two “Master Helmsman” on board McCampbell; a prestigious qualification for highly talented Sailors who demonstrate the skill and experience needed to carefully steer the ship through the most challenging situations.
“I feel like this is a great experience,” Bellamy said, adding, “It is fun, and I love driving. I hope to keep driving and drive other ships, like an aircraft carrier, one day.”
“When McCampbell pulled into Townsville, Australia, this summer it was readily apparent that almost every watch stander was female,” commented Commander Patrick J Sullivan, commanding officer of McCampbell. “We decided to highlight the achievements, professionalism, and maritime skills of our female sailors during our most challenging inbound transit since May. The team was outstanding ship-wide!”
McCampbell is currently operating in the Indo-Pacific region while assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy's largest forward deployed DESRON and the U.S. Seventh Fleet's principal surface force.