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The crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney gather around the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Ken Pickard (obscured) for a cheer before boarding in Ponta Delgada, the Azores, on Sept. 22, 2015. The Carney arrived at its new home port of Rota, Spain, three days later.

The crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney gather around the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Ken Pickard (obscured) for a cheer before boarding in Ponta Delgada, the Azores, on Sept. 22, 2015. The Carney arrived at its new home port of Rota, Spain, three days later. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

The crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney gather around the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Ken Pickard (obscured) for a cheer before boarding in Ponta Delgada, the Azores, on Sept. 22, 2015. The Carney arrived at its new home port of Rota, Spain, three days later.

The crew of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney gather around the ship's commanding officer, Cmdr. Ken Pickard (obscured) for a cheer before boarding in Ponta Delgada, the Azores, on Sept. 22, 2015. The Carney arrived at its new home port of Rota, Spain, three days later. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Members of the deck division of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney pose in front of their ship on Sept. 22, 2015, in Ponta Delgada, the Azores. The Carney pulled into Rota, Spain, three days later for permanent stationing.

Members of the deck division of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney pose in front of their ship on Sept. 22, 2015, in Ponta Delgada, the Azores. The Carney pulled into Rota, Spain, three days later for permanent stationing. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Seaman Markievy Hutchins cleans a name plate aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015, two days before the ship's arrival at its new home port of Rota, Spain.

Seaman Markievy Hutchins cleans a name plate aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015, two days before the ship's arrival at its new home port of Rota, Spain. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Amos Patrick returns to a repair locker after a damage-control drill aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Amos Patrick returns to a repair locker after a damage-control drill aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

A sailor yawns as a meeting of petty officers first class breaks up in the mess hall of the guided missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015.

A sailor yawns as a meeting of petty officers first class breaks up in the mess hall of the guided missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney listen as Cmdr. Ken Pickard, the ship's commanding officer, speaks before an awards ceremony in the mess hall on Sept. 23, 2015.

Sailors aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney listen as Cmdr. Ken Pickard, the ship's commanding officer, speaks before an awards ceremony in the mess hall on Sept. 23, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Petty Officer 1st Class Jermaine Weatehrs is congratulated after being named sailor of the year aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015.

Petty Officer 1st Class Jermaine Weatehrs is congratulated after being named sailor of the year aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Seaman Vanessa Aguilar waits as Senior Chief Petty Officer Noel Martinez inspects the galley before dinner aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015.

Seaman Vanessa Aguilar waits as Senior Chief Petty Officer Noel Martinez inspects the galley before dinner aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 23, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Fireman Josh Sclease conducts a late-night sounding and security patrol through the lower decks of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015. "When I first got here it took me six months to learn where everything was and qualify for watch," he said.

Fireman Josh Sclease conducts a late-night sounding and security patrol through the lower decks of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015. "When I first got here it took me six months to learn where everything was and qualify for watch," he said. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Chief Petty Officer Chris Brown, an electrician's mate, works on a press machine inside the laundry room of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015.

Chief Petty Officer Chris Brown, an electrician's mate, works on a press machine inside the laundry room of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Petty Officer 2nd Class Isaac Payne moves a pile of laundry between the washing machine and dryer on the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Isaac Payne moves a pile of laundry between the washing machine and dryer on the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Command Master Chief Petty Officer Jon Lonsdale, with radio, and Senior Chief Petty Officer Noel Martinez organize sailors on the deck of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015, in a practice run for manning the rails before the ship arrived at its new home port of Rota, Spain.

Command Master Chief Petty Officer Jon Lonsdale, with radio, and Senior Chief Petty Officer Noel Martinez organize sailors on the deck of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015, in a practice run for manning the rails before the ship arrived at its new home port of Rota, Spain. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

Petty Officer 3rd Class Rose Dessources, front, plays bingo with other sailors in the mess hall of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Rose Dessources, front, plays bingo with other sailors in the mess hall of the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney on Sept. 24, 2015. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

A sailor assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney walks along the harbor wall in Ponta Delgada, the Azores, on Sept. 22, 2015. The Carney pulled into its new home port of Rota, Spain, three days later.

A sailor assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney walks along the harbor wall in Ponta Delgada, the Azores, on Sept. 22, 2015. The Carney pulled into its new home port of Rota, Spain, three days later. (Steven Beardsley/Stars and Stripes)

The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney is pictured at sea on Sept. 24, 2015, a day before its arrival in Rota, Spain. The ship was the last of four American warships to arrive in Rota as part of a ballistic missile defense shield.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Carney is pictured at sea on Sept. 24, 2015, a day before its arrival in Rota, Spain. The ship was the last of four American warships to arrive in Rota as part of a ballistic missile defense shield. (U.S. Navy)

ABOARD THE USS CARNEY IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN —This 7,000-ton guided-missile destroyer can knock out a ballistic missile and defend itself from attack at the same time. Just don’t expect its industrial washers to safely clean decorative bunting.

That’s what Petty Officer 2nd Class Isaac Payne learned when he was handed several bags of red, white and blue decorations last month, all to be readied to hang on the ship’s rails before its arrival in Spain. The Carney’s industrial washers and dryers would have ruined the delicate fabric.

“It’s got to be hand-washed and scrubbed,” Payne said.

So it goes on one of the U.S. Navy’s most technically advanced warships, which will make its first missile patrol in November.

Loaded with political and strategic significance because of its Aegis ballistic-missile defense system, the Carney is home to a workforce that includes cooks and clothes washers in addition to engineers and boatswain’s mates. All play a role in keeping the ship at sea, its officers say.

“One thing we always tell sailors is there is no one job greater than any other job,” the Carney’s executive officer, Cmdr. Peter Halversen, said.

The Carney and its crew of about 300 officers and sailors arrived in Rota, Spain, on Sept. 25, one of four American guided-missile destroyers that will make regular ballistic-missile defense patrols in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Only a few officers and sailors have any direct role in the missile-defense system; much of the crew works to keep the ship’s propulsion and life-support systems going. Many sailors juggle multiple roles, something common to the Navy’s smaller ships, which include frigates, destroyers and cruisers.

Payne is the ship’s barber on most mornings. In the afternoons, he helps wash clothes — about 350 pounds each day — and manages inventory for the ship’s store. He also suits up for regular damage-control drills.

The ship’s medical officer, Senior Chief Petty Officer Noel Martinez, acts as the local health inspector, checking the ship’s galley and the cleanliness of its water supply when not updating medical files or scheduling immunizations.

“Downtime? When I sleep,” Martinez said with a laugh, “usually at the end of the day. And that’s if we don’t have someone who’s ill or gets ill in the middle of the night.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Branden Rabb maintains damage-control equipment like oxygen masks and radios from a small space below deck. He stands watch in the engine room and participates in several damage-control drills a week.

Engineers take special pride in their knowledge of a ship’s lower decks, bow to stern. Petty Officer 2nd Class Jason Phillips, a gas turbine technician, said he can go for days without going topside. The ship’s mission depends on engineers’ ability to keep it moving, he said. “So as long as we keep the power going, the propulsion going, topside can do whatever they want,” he said.

Food, laundry and the ship’s store fall under the supply department. All are important, said Lt. Jessica Bronson, assistant supply officer.

“Morale is huge on a ship, whether it be just keeping the crew caffeinated to stay awake for the long watches. … Something as simple as having a soda really does mean a lot to the crewmember,” she said.

The challenge for officers and chiefs is to connect sailors with the mission and occasionally break up the monotony of weeks at sea, Command Master Chief Jon Lonsdale said.

“It’s important that every time we get a new check-in, we say, ‘Look, this is what the ship’s designed to do, this is our main mission. However, here’s how you fit into it,’ ” he said. “We always try to work that to them.”

There was little time for reflection and plenty of work to be done as the ship neared Rota. The exterior paint needed to be touched up, the bunting hung. Preparations would soon begin for the Carney’s first patrol.

Everyone was excited to see their new home, Bronson said. They were also ready for a break. “To be honest, by the end of the day most people are just going to find somewhere to crash,” he said. “They will eventually get out into Rota, but it will probably be in the next couple of days.”

beardsley.steven@stripes.com Twitter: @sjbeardsley


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