Military News

Coast native serves aboard USS Ross in Spain


ROTA, Spain -- A 2013 Pass Christian High School graduate and Coast native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Ross, a guided missile destroyer.

Seaman Kristin Alford is a logistics specialist aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer forward deployed to Rota, Spain.

"A Navy logistics specialist is responsible for a wide range of activities supplying the fleet," said Alford. "Like Amazon, when someone wants something, I make sure all the information is correct and make sure they receive the item; I like interacting with a whole range of people, sailors and civilians alike."

Commissioned in June of 1997, the Ross measures approximately 500 feet and is powered by four gas turbines that allow the destroyer to achieve more than 30 mph in open seas. It was named in honor of Medal of Honor recipient Capt. Donald K. Ross. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

This ship has been fitted with the Aegis ballistic missile defense capability that enables the ship to conduct long-range surveillance, tracking and engagement of short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

According to Navy officials, destroyers are tactical, multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare 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 overseas task.

Assigned to U.S. 6th Fleet, sailors are on watch throughout the European region and are important assets supporting the European Phased Adaptive Approach to enhance the security of that area of the world from ballistic missile threats originating in the Middle East.

In addition to Ross, three other BMD-capable ships are forward deployed in Rota: USS Porter, USS Carney and USS Donald Cook. Having four destroyers based in Rota gives the U.S. 6th Fleet flexibility to send these ships to a variety of locations for a range of missions while providing a large umbrella of protection for European allies.

Approximately 30 officers and 300 enlisted men and women make up the ship's company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly. The jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.

"The different places I've seen while serving aboard this ship and the people I've met is just amazing," said Alford.

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.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy's most relied upon assets, Alford explained that he and other Ross sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

"For me, joining the Navy was my man-up opportunity," added Alford.