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Fire Controlman Aboard USS John S. McCain
by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda
January 22, 2021

A Waldorf, Maryland native and 2015 Wakefield High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).

Petty Officer Second Class Dondre Summers is a Fire Controlman, or FC, serving aboard John S. McCain, homeported out of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan.

January 20, 2021 - Fire Controlman 2nd Class Dondre Summers, from Waldorf, Md., sits on a Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) mount on the foc’s’le aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56). McCain is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda)
January 20, 2021 - Fire Controlman 2nd Class Dondre Summers, from Waldorf, Md., sits on a Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) mount on the foc’s’le aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56). McCain is assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda)

Fire controlmen operate and maintain combat and weapons direction systems, surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile systems and gun fire control systems aboard U.S. Navy ships.

“I enjoy the technical aspect of my rate,” said Summers. “Performing corrective maintenance is an opportunity to learn more about the weapons systems we work on. I enjoy learning and expanding my technical expertise.”

FCs are a part of Weapons department, directly responsible for the operation and maintenance on a majority of the ship’s defensive and offensive capabilities to include the vertical launch system (VLS), Close-In Weapons System (CIWS), Mark-38 25mm machine guns and various small arms weapons.

“Our daily work schedule is high-speed,” said Summers. “Weapons systems are a significant part of the mission and that only pushes me to be better at my job.”

While on deployment, John S. McCain has contributed to various critical missions in support of regional peace and prosperity. Most recently, John S. McCain transited the South China Sea to conduct a Freedom Navigation operation, upholding the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging excessive maritime claims.

“We provide the ship’s defense capabilities,” said Summers. “If weapons systems are down, it is a handicap to a destroyer’s mission. That pressure motivates me to put in the long hours, if need be, to ensure our systems are always ready at a moment’s notice.”

With the recent Navy-wide advancement results, Summers was promoted to the rank of Petty Officer Second Class. With rank advancement comes added responsibilities and Summers is dedicated to push further as a technical expert.

“Making rank, I am expected to be more knowledgeable, and I look forward to that,” said Summers. “I constantly work towards expanding my knowledge because I want to excel the level I am expected to perform at as a Second Class.”

John S. McCain has participated in integrated operations with the French Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force where they focused on anti-submarine warfare tactics between the three navies, the Royal Australian Navy and JMSDF for the first phase of Malabar 2021, and transited to the Andaman Sea through the Strait of Malacca with the Royal Australian Navy.

John S. McCain also worked as part of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and operated in the South China Sea, East China Sea, Indian Ocean and Philippine Sea.

U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.

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