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St. Rose sailor assigned to Navy combat ship

From staff and wire reports -   May 01, 2014

Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Burke.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Burke.

A 2008 Archbishop Rummel High School graduate and St. Rose native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a small crew working aboard one of the country’s most versatile combat ships.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Travis Burke, a boatswain’s mate, serves aboard the San Diego-based littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2).  Burke is part of the 53-person crew, one of the two rotating crews, which allow the ship to be deployed more often without taxing one crew too much.

Burke said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, and serving aboard a first-of-its kind ship is something he never expected to be doing just a couple years ago.

“You have to want to do it,” said Burke. “You have to take it home with you and be invested in what you do. That will help you be successful at whatever you choose to do in the Navy.”

As a 24-year-old with numerous responsibilities, Burke is learning about himself as a sailor and a person. He is also getting a firsthand look at the high-speed, shallow draft multi-mission ship capable of operating independently or with an associated strike group. The littoral combat ship class is designed to defeat threats in coastal waters where increasingly capable submarines, mines, and swarming small craft operate. The USS Independence is 419 feet long and 104 feet wide and weighs nearly 3,100 tons. Twin gas turbine engines push the ship through the water at more than 40 knots.

“You get to see the world,” said Burke. “You also get more of a broad spectrum of the world to help you understand how things work on a global scale.”

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. 

The purpose for such realistic training is because with such a small crew, it’s important for sailors to report nearly fully qualified for their jobs.

“I had already finished all my basic schools for my rate,” said Burke. “I also attended supervisor schools, safety petty officer, and forklift driver school. And I am still going through more schools to get even more training.”

But more than just their primary job, Burke said it’s important for sailors to work together and often do work outside their normal tasks.

As a member of the Navy’s first littoral combat ship, Burke and other Independence sailors know they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.  

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