Live Oaks grad serves on one of the first ‘Stealth Ships’

Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller

By Ricky Burke
Navy Office of Community Outreach

A Live Oaks High School graduate and Cincinnati native is serving as part of the Pre Commissioning Unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).

Petty Officer 1st Class William Shipp is a gas turbine systems technician (mechanic) assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine.

As a gas turbine systems technician Shipp is responsible for maintaining and operating the ship’s propulsion system.

“I like the get my hands dirty,” said Shipp. “I like the aspect of working on equipment that makes the ship run effectively.”

DDG 116 is currently undergoing tests and trials in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works. Arleigh Burke class destroyers measure approximately 500 feet long and are powered by four gas turbines that allow the ship to achieve over 30 mph in open seas. Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and ballistic missile defense, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions.

“Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his element leader, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown,” said Cmdr. Nathan W. Scherry, commanding officer, PCU Thomas Hudner. “On 07 May 2012, Secretary Mabus announced that DDG 116 will be named in Captain Hudner’s honor. Today, as the Navy’s finest 300 Sailors crew the 66th Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, they do so with a tremendous amount of honor, pride, and sense of duty. We are extremely honored to be able to carry Captain Hudner’s values and legacy forward so that they are never forgotten. We are proud to be able to carry out our missions in defense of our country’s freedom and values, and humbled to be part of the Hudner family.”

Shipp has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“I was raised to not be afraid to get dirty and do what you go to do within the scope of the job to complete tasks,” said Shipp.

With a crew of over 300 sailors, each crew member’s job is important to the smooth operation of the ship. The jobs range from weapon handling to navigation.

Shipp has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My grandfather, two uncles and one aunt all served in the military,” said Shipp. “My cousin, Jay, and one uncle, Paul, both retired from the Navy after 20 years and another uncle retired after serving 15 years in the Navy.”

Shipp’s proudest accomplishment making rank to petty officer first class.

“This puts me in the position to lead and train junior sailors and help them to advance in their specific rating which in return, helps them excel and advance in their career,” added Shipp.

Close living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest ships, Shipp and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Being in the Navy means that I get to support my country and make sure my family is safe and taken care of,” said Shipp.

The construction of the ship is over 98% complete. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in late 2018 in Boston, Mass. For more information about the commissioning, visit