SAN DIEGO – A 2010 South Lenior High School graduate and Kinston native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the country’s most versatile combat ships.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Perry Witherspoon is an information systems technician serving aboard USS Gabrielle Giffords based in San Diego.

A Navy information systems technician is responsible for maintaining and repairing the computers and networks on the ship.

“I've learned that it's important to seize opportunities and to never limit yourself,” said Witherspoon.

The ship’s technological benefits allow for swapping mission packages quickly, meaning sailors can support multiple missions, such as surface warfare, mine warfare, or anti-submarine warfare.

Designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft, littoral combat ships are a bold departure from traditional Navy shipbuilding programs. The LCS sustainment strategy was developed to take into account the unique design and manning of LCS and its associated mission modules.

According to Navy officials, the path to becoming an LCS sailor is a long one. Following an 18-month training pipeline, sailors have to qualify on a simulator that is nearly identical to the ship. This intense and realistic training pipeline allows sailors to execute their roles and responsibilities immediately upon stepping onboard.

"Every single day our LCS surface warriors prove they are the best and the brightest - and let me tell you, they love their ships,” said Capt. M. Jordan Harrison, Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron ONE. “LCS are fast, agile, maneuverable and the minimal crew manning affords leadership and qualification opportunities you won’t get anywhere else in the Navy. Visit one of our ships and you will see ensigns and chiefs at the helm because that is just how highly trained and talented and motivated our officers and Sailors are in the LCS community."

As one of 70 crewmembers for one of the Navy’s newest ships, Witherspoon explained they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes. Crewmembers know how important it is for the Navy to develop new war-fighting capabilities to continue their success on the world’s oceans.

Witherspoon’s proudest accomplishment was being awarded his Navy and Marine Corps medal.

Through innovative planning, the design of systems, and crew requirements, the LCS platform allows the fleet to increase forward presence and optimize its personnel, improving the ability of the Navy to be where it matters, when it matters.

“Serving in the Navy has helped me grow as a person by broadening my world view,” said Witherspoon. “The best part about serving here is the crew size. The smaller crew size means I get to learn other aspects of my job I otherwise wouldn't.”