Smithfield Native Serving Aboard Navy Warship

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steve Watterworth, Navy Office of Community Outreach

Norfolk, Va – A Smithfield native and 2014 graduate of Smithfield Selma High School is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Kearsarge.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Malachi Barnes is a boatswain mate aboard the amphibious transport dock operating out of Norfolk.

Kearsarge, 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.

A Navy boatswain mate is responsible for for the anchors, mooring, and driving the ship.

“We launch the Marines to the beach,” said Barnes.

“I bring a good work ethic, and hard-working small country town perspective,” Barnes said. “Being in the NJROTC made me join the Navy.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS Kearsarge. More than 400 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 700 Marines can be embarked. USS Kearsarge is capable of transporting Marines and landing them where they are needed via helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and landing craft.

“The success of our Surface Force ships is measured by our ability to provide Fleet Commanders with combat naval power at sea and to project that power ashore where and when it matters,” said Vice Adm. Richard A. Brown, commander, Naval Surface Forces. “It’s hard work to ready ships for combat operations at sea – it takes the talent of an entire crew working well together. I’m extremely proud of the each and every surface warrior’s contributions to the Navy’s enduring mission of protecting and defending America, at home and around the world.”

These amphibious transport dock ships support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions and can serve as secondary aviation platforms for amphibious ready groups. 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.

“I’m the first one in my family to serve in the military,” Barnes said.

Barnes’s proudest accomplishment was earning his Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal he earned by completing underway replenishments during wartime deployment.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Barnes and other USS Kearsarge sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“I’ve been able to work hard to improve myself, instilling leadership and encouraging myself to do things I wouldn’t have done,” Barnes said. “I want to be the best at my job.”

Photo by Dustin Good