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Source: Heidi Cheek / Radio One

SAN DIEGO – An Atlanta native and 2016 Benjamin E. Mays Mays High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided missile destroyer, USS Decatur. Petty Officer 3rd Class Shantanay Clark is a cryptologic technician (collection)aboard the guided-missile destroyer operating out of San Diego. A Navy cryptologic technician (collection) is responsible for gathering and analyzing signals and transmissions coming from other ships.  Clark credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Atlanta.

“I learned how to work with people and keep an open mind,” said Clark. “It’s important to be open to different ideas and trying new things.”

More than 300 sailors serve aboard the ship, and their jobs are highly specialized, requiring dedication and skill, according to Navy officials. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry along with a multitude of other assignment that keep the ship mission-ready at all times.

“The success of the Decatur is due to the dedication and ownership each member of the crew feels towards making Decatur the best ship on the waterfront,” said Cmdr. Bob Bowen, commanding officer of USS Decatur. “Our team is always ready to accomplish the mission because of the commitment each sailor has to maintaining high standards and sound shipboard operating principles. Every team member knows their roles and responsibilities and does their part to ensure success.”

Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They are 510 feet long and armed with tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, Standard Missile-3 and newer variants of the SM missile family, advanced gun systems and close-in gun systems. Destroyers are deployed globally and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious readiness groups. Their presence helps the Navy control the sea. Sea control is the precondition for everything else the Navy does. It cannot project power, secure the commons, deter aggression, or assure allies without the ability to control the seas when and where desired.

The ship has anti-aircraft capability armed with long range missiles intended for air defense to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.

Unique experiences build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is motivated, and can quickly adapt to changing conditions, according to Navy officials. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills. Serving aboard a guided missile destroyer instills accountability and toughness and fosters initiative and integrity.

While serving in the Navy may present many challenges, Clark has found many great rewards. Clark is also proud of earning an accelerated advancement for being the top of the A school class. As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Clark and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“Serving in the Navy has helped me step out of my comfort zone and pushed me to strive for goals I otherwise wouldn’t have,” added Clark.