By NAVY OFFICE OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH
NORFOLK – A 1996 Edsel Ford High School graduate and Dearborn native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Bulkeley.
Petty Officer 1st Class Kirsten Piliste is a sonar technician aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer operating out of Norfolk, Va.
A Navy sonar technician is responsible for maintaining and operating the ship’s sonar system as well as tracking undersea contacts and providing the ship’s undersea defense capability.
“I enjoy tracking submarines,” Piliste said.
Sonar techs are responsible for undersea surveillance, and aid in safe navigation and search-and-rescue operations, when needed. Sonar equipment detects, analyzes and locates targets of interest.
Commissioned in December 2001, USS Bulkeley measures approximately 500 feet and is powered by four gas turbines that allow the destroyer to achieve over 30 mph in open seas.
Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute any tasking overseas.
“We recently returned from a very successful extended eight-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” said Cmdr. Henry Allen, commanding officer, USS Bulkeley. “I could not be more proud of the men and women serving aboard Bulkeley. They are my heroes. We have just over 300 Sailors onboard, and for more than half of them it was their first operational deployment.
“They worked superbly well together as a strong team and completed every assigned mission with excellence. They were, by all measures, the best ship in the Carrier Strike Group.
“And, as proud as I am of my sailors, I am extremely proud of our sailors’ families for their commitment and their sacrifices. Without a doubt, our families had the harder job — they had to deal with the absence of a vital family member for eight months and they had to carry a much greater burden than most families have to bear. It was a complete team effort. The deployment was incredibly successful because we all worked together to make it so.”
With a crew of over 300 sailors, jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the destroyer running smoothly, Navy officials said. The jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
“We strive for excellence aboard,” Piliste said. “We just returned from deployment and had the opportunity to meet new people.”
Challenging 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.
“This is an excellent way to show my family and children that you can make a difference for your country,” Piliste said.