By Lt. Sandra Niedzwiecki
Special to Independent Newsmedia
Petty Officer 3rd Class Lorena Visinho, a native of Peoria, was the first in the Visinho family to join the Navy.
Now, three years later, Visinho serves aboard one of the Navy’s amphibious ships at Naval Base San Diego.
“It is very fast paced, there is a lot to do on the ship,” Visinho said. “It is a very nice work environment. I really enjoy all the people that I work with on USS Essex.”
Visinho, a 2016 graduate of Centennial High School, 143888 N. 79th Ave., is an interior communications electrician aboard USS Essex, one of four Wasp-class amphibious assault ships in the Navy, homeported in San Diego.
“I am responsible for the repair and upkeep for the phones and alarm systems throughout the ship,” Visinho said. “I am also responsible for maintenance of the announcement systems throughout the ship as well to make sure the internal communications are working properly.”
Visinho credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Peoria.
“I was taught to have respect for others and have patience, that not everything can get done when you want it to get done, you have to be patient,” Visinho said. “Also, working hard if you want to make rank, you have to invest the time to study and learn your rate.”
Essex is designed to deliver U.S. Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. Designed to be versatile, the ship has the option of simultaneously using helicopters, Harrier jets, and Landing Craft Air Cushioned (LCAC), as well as conventional landing craft and assault vehicles in various combinations.
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.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Essex. More than 1,000 men and women make up the ship’s crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines. An additional 1,200 Marines can be embarked.
“They make a big ship feel very small,” Visinho said. “It is very interesting to see the tanks and duties they do compared to us on the ship. They contribute to help with upkeep of shipboard life.”
Serving in the Navy means Visinho 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,” Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer said. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Visinho is most proud of getting warfare qualifications while on deployment.
“Not a lot of people my rank have done this, I made good use of my free time on deployment to achieve these and I am very proud of this accomplishment,” Visinho said.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Visinho and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means that I am helping my country and contributing to the freedom of our citizens so they can feel safe when they go to bed at night,” Visinho said.
Editor’s note: Lt. Sandra Niedzwiecki is with the Navy Office of Community Outreach.