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VIEWPOINT: Syracuse-area native serves aboard “Fast and Feared” U.S. Navy warship

By Rick Burke


Chief Petty Officer Ryan M. Sullivan, a 2001 Jamesville-DeWitt High School graduate, aboard the USS James E. Williams, a guided-missile destroyer. (PHOTO CREDIT: NAVY OFFICE OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH)

A native of the Syracuse area is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS James E. Williams, a guided-missile destroyer, currently participating in counter-drug operations in the eastern Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Chief Petty Officer Ryan M. Sullivan, a 2001 Jamesville-DeWitt High School graduate, joined the Navy 14 years ago. 

Today, Sullivan, serves aboard a ship with more than 300 other sailors, who make up the ship’s crew. Their jobs are highly specialized and range from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines, along with a multitude of other assignments that always keep the ship mission ready. 

USS James E. Williams, homeported in Norfolk, Virginia, is named in honor of Chief Boatswain’s Mate James E. Williams, a river patrol boat commander and Medal of Honor recipient from the Vietnam War, who is considered to be the most-decorated enlisted man in Navy history.

According to Navy officials, guided-missile destroyers can conduct anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking at sea.

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber-optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

According to Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday, four priorities will focus efforts on sailors, readiness, capabilities, and capacity.

“For 245 years, in both calm and rough waters, our Navy has stood the watch to protect the homeland, preserve freedom of the seas, and defend our way of life,” said Gilday. “The decisions and investments we make this decade will set the maritime balance of power for the rest of this century. We can accept nothing less than success.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Sullivan, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“I serve to honor past and present Tin Can Sailors and to train our reliefs,” said Sullivan.