A 2011 Palm Beach Central High School graduate and West Palm Beach native is serving aboard the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), living and working at the Navy’s forward-deployed base south of Tokyo.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Lamonica is a cryptological technician aboard the destroyer operating out of Yokosuka, which is located approximately 35 miles south of Tokyo and accommodates the United States’ furthest forward-deployed naval forces.
An Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, the Fitzgerald is 505 feet long and 66 feet wide, weighing more than 9,200 tons. Its four gas turbine engines can push the ship at nearly 35 miles per hour.
The ship is named in honor of Lt. William Charles Fitzgerald, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism in Vietnam.
As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Lamonica said she is proud to serve her country aboard a destroyer in Japan.
“I am responsible for missile defense aboard the ship,” Lamonica said. “This ship gives me the opportunity to be constantly doing something, so you are never bored.”
About 40 officers and 260 enlisted men make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the $2 billion destroyer running smoothly — everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
Fast, maneuverable and technically advanced destroyers provide war-fighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas with multi-mission capabilities in surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-air warfare, ballistic missile defense and humanitarian assistance.
Assigned to U.S. Seventh Fleet, Fitzgerald sailors are on watch throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region as America’s first responders in that part of the world.
“Being in the Navy gives you the chance to make experiences you wouldn’t be able to in another job,” Lamonica said.
ABOVE: Petty Officer 2nd Class Ashley Lamonica