Story by Sarah Burford
Military Sealift Command Pacific
Crew members of the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) have been awarded the Navy’s Civilian Service Achievement Medal for their outstanding service during their deployment support of the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier strike group.
Yukon was deployed for a lengthy 302 days, with 261 days at-sea. While underway, the oiler conducted 86 replenishments at sea, delivering nearly 16 million gallons of diesel ship fuel, nearly 11 million gallons of JP5 aviation fuel, and 2673 pallets of frozen food, dry goods, equipment and mail.
The Nimitz strike group was the first carrier strike group to deploy following the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. Due to “Bubble” measures to ensure the crews’ safety and health, the ships, including Yukon were deployed for a longer period of time, compared to a typical six-month deployment.
“This is not the normal way we operate,” said Capt. Dan Glazier, Yukon’s civilian master, “so that made this deployment exceptionally challenging.”
Yukon and the Strike Group operated in the Persian Gulf in support of Central Command during a tense time with Iran. It also participated in maritime exercise Malabar 2020 alongside Indian, Australian and Japanese ships. The carrier strike group participated in dual-carrier operations with the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups as well as operating in the South China Sea.
According to Glazier, this deployment was exceptionally difficult for the crew. Not only was it longer than most, but due to COVID19 restrictions and delays, receiving mail and supplies was challenging, and not just for items needed to support the mission. Crew members who ordered things such as medicines and comfort items from online companies such as Amazon, were delayed for weeks. The death of a crewmember during the holidays, further dampened the spirits of the crew.
“It was a tough time for these guys,” said Glazier. “It took an intense amount of effort, but we got through it. We met every commitment we were asked to do. We got the Navy everything they needed and asked for. We were out there for the Navy and proud to support them.”
Glazier explained that recognition such as the Civilian Service Achievement Medal, means a lot to the crew, who he calls “Unsung Heroes.”
“We are here for the Navy. We are here to keep them prepared for their mission,” he explained. “This is unsung heroism, and these guys are unsung heroes. We don’t get recognition very often, so when you get an award like this from the top, it really boosts moral. It’s good to see something like this come from the highest ranks of MSC headquarters. This was very hard earned!”
According to the Navy, the Navy Civilian Service Commendation Medal is awarded to Department of the Navy and U.S. Marine Corps civilians who distinguish themselves by performing well above that which is usually expected of an individual commensurate with his or her grade or specialty, and above the degree of excellence which can be appropriately reflected in the individual’s performance evaluations, or personnel records. The medal may be awarded after a significant achievement (such as an invention, or improvement in design, procedure, or organization) or after an extended period of time (such as a deployment or overseas tour). Recipients are recognized at the equivalent level of the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal awarded to military personnel for similar achievement.
Yukon is currently undergoing scheduled maintenance at the Vigor Industrial Shipyard in Portland, Oregon. Upon completion, they will return to duty, providing logistics support to the United States Navy.
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