BATH, Maine – A 2010 Colton High School graduate and Anaheim, California, native is serving as part of the Pre-Commissioning Unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).
Fireman David Bernal is assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine. As a fireman Bernal is responsible for maintenance of the ship’s electrical distribution systems. “I enjoy the camaraderie with the sailors in the division that I work in,” said Bernal.
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.”
Bernal has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.
“Growing up, I learned the values of hard work and taking with you as much as you can from your job so you can move on to the next chapter in your life,” said Bernal.
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.
Bernal has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My older brother served in the Marines for five years and did a tour in Afghanistan,” said Bernal. “I’m proud to carry on his name doing my part serving in the military.”
Bernal’s proudest accomplishment was graduating boot camp.
“We had several dropouts in my division throughout the eight-week course. Completing boot camp gave me the confidence needed to know I can complete anything in life I set my mind to,” added Bernal.
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, Bernal and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means being a part of something bigger than myself,” said Bernal. “I have a great sense of pride and honor serving my country, and it makes my family proud.”
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 usshudnerddg116.org.
By Ricky Burke, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller