501 Life Magazine | Conway native serves aboard Navy’s first ‘Stealth Ships’
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Conway native serves aboard Navy’s first ‘Stealth Ships’

by Mass Communication Specialist
1st Class Tom Gagnier

Seaman Apprentice Nick Beagley, a 2014 Conway High School graduate, is serving as part of the Pre-Commissioning Unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).

A Conway native, Beagley is a cryptologic technician (technical) assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine. As a cryptologic technician (technical), Beagley is responsible for operating radar and radio equipment onboard ships.

Nick Beagley is serving as part of the Pre-Commissioning Unit for the future Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, USS Thomas Hudner. (Navy Office of Community Outreach Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Miller)

“It is a very challenging job from day to day,” said Beagley. “There are always different types of tasks to be done.”

DDG 116 is currently undergoing tests and trials in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works. Arleigh Burke class destroyers measure approximately 500 feet long and are powered by four gas turbines that allow the ship to achieve more than 30 mph in open seas.

Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare and ballistic missile defense, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions.

“Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his element leader, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown,” said Cmdr. Nathan W.

Scherry, commanding officer, PCU Thomas Hudner. “On 07 May 2012, Secretary Mabus announced that DDG 116 will be named in Captain Hudner’s honor.

Today, as the Navy’s finest 300 sailors crew the 66th Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer, they do so with a tremendous amount of honor, pride and sense of duty.

We are extremely honored to be able to carry Captain Hudner’s values and legacy forward so that they are never forgotten. We are proud to be able to carry out our missions in defense of our country’s freedom and values, and humbled to be part of the Hudner family.”

Beagley has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“My father was a police officer,” said Beagley. “He taught me the value of hard work.”

With a crew of more than 300 sailors, each crew member’s job is important to the smooth operation of the ship. The jobs range from weapon handling to navigation.

Beagley has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition. “My grandfather served in the Air Force,” said Beagley.

Beagley says his proudest accomplishments are graduating the many challenging schools required to do his job. “The schools require a lot of commitment,” he said. “Not everyone makes it through them.”

Close living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew, Navy officials explained. The crew is highly motivated and quickly adapting to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest ships, Beagley and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, providing the Navy the nation needs.

“The Navy gives me a sense of purpose and meaning,” said Beagley. “I feel proud working for an organization with such a rich tradition and important missions.”

The construction of the ship is over 98 percent complete. The ship is scheduled for commissioning in late 2018 in Boston. For more information about the commissioning, visit usshudnerddg116.org.