Brooklyn native serves Navy aboard USS Nitze
NORFOLK, Va. – A Grover Cleveland High School graduate and Brooklyn, N.Y., native is serving aboard USS Nitze (DDG 94), one of the world’s most versatile multi-mission combat ships.
Chief Petty Officer Derrick Pitts is an operation specialist aboard the Norfolk-based ship, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that is longer than 1.5 football fields long at nearly 510 feet long. The ship is 66 feet wide and weighs more than 9,200 tons. Twin gas turbine engines can push the ship through the water at more than 30 mph. USS Nitze is the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Paul Nitze, who served as Secretary of the Navy under President Lyndon B. Johnson and as chief arms control adviser in the administration of President Ronald Reagan.
As a seasoned Sailor with numerous responsibilities, Pitts leads and manages more than 80 junior Sailors within the operations department. “I learned from my past and previous experiences and I try to teach my Sailors that you don’t have to get buried to learn from others,” said Pitts.
He also said he is proud of the work he is doing as part of the Nitze’s 315-member crew, protecting America on the world’s oceans. “I want to make sure my Sailors are doing things the right way and make sure the messages come across effectively,” said Pitts.
Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard USS Nitze. Approximately 31 officers and 284 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company, which keeps all parts of the destroyer running smoothly — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the engines.
“I am proud and amazed by the knowledge they display and the work my Sailors do every day,” said Cmdr. Michelle Nakamura, the ship’s commanding officer. “Many very young people, some with only months of experience in the Navy, stood ready to sail and fight our ship in any situation. They performed exceptionally each and every day of our 7-plus month deployment and they continue to excel here at home. Their professionalism, motivation and commitment to the Navy are genuinely inspiring.”
Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute multi-mission evolutions such as surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and anti-air warfare. USS Nitze can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, amphibious ready groups, and underway replenishment groups.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile combat ships, Pitts and other USS Nitze
Sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
Pitts explained that when he was 10 years old, being in the military was an inherit duty passed down from his grandfather and father. Pitts also mentioned that two of his high school teachers also had a huge influence on why he wanted to join the military.
“Being in the Navy has been a very rewarding experience. It gives me educational opportunities and countless places to visit,” said Pitts. “I love the honor and respect I receive in and out of uniform from family members and various people.”
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