Submitted photo

Petty Officer Jamal McNeill
Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs
A 1998 OlAthe North High School Graduate and Gardner native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the country’s most versatile combat ships.
Chief Petty Officer Melissa Werle, is an engineman and a member of Crew 206 the “Vikings” serving aboard littoral combat ships based in San Diego.
As an engineman, Werle is responsible for maintenance and repair for
propulsion, equipment and engines on the ship.
“I get enjoyment out of being hands on with fixing equipment and seeing it work,” said Werle. “I also enjoy being able to teach and mentor my junior Sailors and seeing them succeed in both their career and in life.”
The ship’s technological benefits allow for swapping mission packages quickly, meaning Sailors can support multiple missions, such as surface warfare, mine warfare, or anti-submarine warfare.
Werle is part of a 53-person crew, one of several crews that rotate between littoral combat ships, as part of a unique crewing concept called “3-2-1,” where three crews serve aboard two different littoral combat ships, one of which is deployed. This innovative manning concept allows the LCS to spend more time forward deployed without overtaxing the crew, according to Navy officials.
“I get a wide variety of experiences on this type of ship,” said Werle. “It’s demanding work but rewarding to gain knowledge and learn the jobs of other people, while getting an understanding and appreciation for what they do.”
Designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft, littoral combat ships are a bold departure from traditional Navy shipbuilding programs. The LCS sustainment strategy was developed to take into account the unique design and manning of LCS and its associated mission modules.
According to Navy officials, the path to becoming an LCS sailor is a long one. Following an 18-month training pipeline, sailors have to qualify on a simulator that is nearly identical to the ship. This intense and realistic training pipeline allows sailors to execute their roles and responsibilities immediately upon stepping onboard.
“USS Jackson’s ability to arrive in its homeport of San Diego – essentially two months ahead of schedule – following execution of Full Ship Shock Trails (FSST) and completion of post FSST maintenance and repairs is not only a testament to the entire crew, but more importantly, it is a testament to the true sustainability and capability of the amazing warship,” said commanding officer, Cmdr. Troy Fendrick.
As a crewmember aboard one of the Navy’s newest ships, Werle explained they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes. Crewmembers know how important it is for the Navy to develop new war fighting capabilities to continue their success on the world’s oceans.
“The Navy is such a multi-cultural environment and I’ve learned how to interact with a wide range of people,” said Werle. “I really enjoy the structure and camaraderie the Navy provides and it has allowed me to gain confidence in myself and others, while building bonds with people through our work.”
Through innovative planning, the design of systems, and crew requirements, the LCS platform allows the fleet to increase forward presence and optimize its personnel, improving the ability of the Navy to be where it matters, when it matters.