Danae Drake (’13) Earns Navy Promotion
LCS alumna Danae Drake (’13), daughter of Jim (employee of LCS) and Cindy Drake, was recently promoted by the US Navy to Operations Specialist Petty Officer 2nd Class.
Petty Officers are self-sufficient leaders who know what work needs to be done without being told. They mentor Junior Seamen and Petty Officers, and are in charge of day-to-day business in absence of their seniors.
After graduating from LCS in 2013, Danae attended the University of W. Florida, earning a degree in 2017 in Military History. She enlisted in the Navy, and is currently serving in San Diego, CA onboard the USS Harpers Ferry. Danae has been on deployment to the Middle East, and is planning on applying for Officers’ Candidate School.
Danae Drake | Petty Officer Third Class | Operation Specialist | Surface Warfare Specialist Qualified | Onboard USS Harpers Ferry (LSD – 49) in San Diego, CA
A Letter from Danae:
I have been in for a year and a half. This past year has been spent almost entirely out at sea whether its for workups or during a deployment. I was able to pick up rank and earn my ESWS (Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist). I had to get a lot of quals, take a test, know almost everything about my ship and how it runs, and sit in on 2 boards that took hours. After all that you finally earn your pin. From the time I checked onboard it took me about 6 months to complete.
We just got back from a 7-month deployment in Fifth Fleet (the Middle East). Due to the mission of the ship and the area we were in we didn’t get to pull into too many ports, and many were restricted to the pier only. So, although I’ve traveled a great deal I didn’t get to do as much sightseeing as I wanted to.
During those 7 months I got to see and experience things that not many people have. We passed the equator and went through a years old Navy tradition. I got to swim in the well deck of my ship while we were in the Gulf of Aden. I’ve seen how they get mail and food to our ship when we’re in the middle of nowhere as well as giving us fuel.
We shared the ship with about 400+ Marines while we took them to various locations to give them more training.
A normal day (depending on your watch time) would be to wake up and go to quarters at 0900, then you clean the ship for about an hour, after than you either complete any qualifications you might have or attend required drills, inspections, or maintenance. That is not including any man over boards or casualties that might happen at any time of the day. So even though you have 8 hours of sleep you may need to respond to whatever is passed over the 1MC (the loudspeaker to communicate any information with the whole crew).
However, there were some hard times for me. There were only two major ones, one when we had been out to sea for 2 months straight without seeing land. That was hard. We were running out of food, we had no internet for the most part, it was well over 100 degrees outside and inside wasn’t much better since our A/C kept having issues. I wasn’t feeling like myself and I eventually had to talk with my chaplain about it. He was nice enough to let me use one of the few phones that could call out of the ship so I could talk to my parents. After that things got better. We still had a long way to go before we went home but it became a bit more bearable.
I won’t dwell on the negatives because even though it was hard, I’m glad I did it. I had to keep reminding myself that not all deployments will be like this. I love the people I work with even if they get on my nerves most of the time. We all found ways to make each other laugh. The entire ship became like a second family, I love what I do and I honestly can’t think of doing anything else. When I think if I want to get out, I really don’t want to. I’ve adjusted to the structure of the military and becoming a civilian again is something I would have to relearn.
Our ship is finally getting some much-needed repairs so I will finally get to see all of what San Diego has to offer and travel to some places nearby. I plan on putting in my officer packet this year, I should have gone in as one after I graduated university, but I enlisted instead. I could be making more, but I also gained a lot of experience and knowledge that I can carry over into my officer career.
The image above is my ship and below is the aft end of it. The gate in the back is the stern gate. It lowers down into the water so we can recover/launch the Marines watercraft such as the AAV’s and the LCU. While they were out doing maneuvers, we filled the well deck with water (which is called ballasting), raised the stern gate (so none of us would float out to sea) and we swam around in there. They let us climb the sides and jump into the water. It was fun!