Chattanooga Native Olivia Buoymaster Serves Aboard Advanced U.S. Navy Warship Half A World Away

Friday, May 24, 2019 - by Lt. Jake Joy, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Olivia Buoymaster
Olivia Buoymaster
- photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary Ward
SASEBO, Japan – Seaman Olivia Buoymaster, a native of Chattanooga, said she likes a challenge. She was in nursing school, when one day “It just wasn't what I wanted.” She decided the U.S. Navy was. 

Now, just a year later and half a world away, Seaman Buoymaster serves aboard one of the Navy’s most advanced amphibious ships at Fleet Activities Sasebo, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet. 

“So far, everyone's been very nice,” she said. “If I need anything, they're there. Everyone's been really good with helping me out.” 

Seaman Buoymaster, a 2014 graduate of Collegedale Academy, is an information systems technician aboard the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Wasp in Sasebo, Japan. 

“I’m a help desk technician, taking trouble calls and assisting with computer problems throughout the ship,” she said. 

Seaman Buoymaster credits some success in the Navy to lessons learned in Chattanooga. 

“Be humble, be nice in every situation.
Even if people are throwing lots of things at you, you just have to continue to be nice,” she said. 

U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet's area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors. 

“I love the culture,” she said. “It's definitely different. I'm expanding my cultural awareness, coming from a small town to a whole new country has been eye opening. 

With more than 50 percent of the world's shipping tonnage and a third of the world's crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy's presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment. 

"The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It's not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace," said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. "It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who've made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference." 

Wasp, one of the Navy's most advanced amphibious ships, is designed to deliver Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts. 

Sailors' jobs are highly varied aboard USS Wasp. More than 1,000 men and women make up the ship's crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weapons to maintaining the engines. An additional 1,200 Marines can be embarked. USS Wasp is capable of transporting Marines and landing them where they are needed using helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and other water-to-shore landing craft. 

These ships support missions from sea to shore, special operations and other warfare missions. They also serve as secondary aviation platforms. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice, according to Navy officials. 

Serving in the Navy means Seaman Buoymaster is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy. 

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea. 

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.” 

There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Seaman Buoymaster is most proud of getting a wide variety of job qualifications knocked out quickly. 

“I feel like if I keep pushing and stay motivated I can hopefully gain rank faster if I keep putting in the work,” she said. 

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Seaman Buoymaster and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs. 

“I love it,” she said. “It takes you out of your comfort zone and out of your mindset. It teaches you more discipline.”


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