Booker T. Washington High School grad serves aboard USS Zumwalt

Booker T. Washington High School grad serves aboard USS Zumwalt

U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Ollie Betancourt

A 2003 Booker T. Washington High School graduate and Miami native is serving aboard one of the U.S. Navy’s newest and most advanced ships, the destroyer Zumwalt (DDG 1000), which currently is under construction at Bath Iron Works in Bath, ME.

Petty Officer First Class Ollie Betancourt is a gas turbine systems technician aboard the Zumwalt, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2016. Once the Zumwalt is commissioned, it will receive the familiar United States Ship (USS) designation and become USS Zumwalt.

Built with a stealth-like design intended to reduce the ship’s radar profile, the Zumwalt’s futuristic appearance seems fitting given that the ship’s commanding officer is Capt. James Kirk.

The ship has advanced technologies in every area — engines, power systems, weapons systems, shipboard electronics and sensors — making it one of the world’s most capable ships. When at sea, Zumwalt will perform a variety of missions, including attacking targets on land with gunfire and cruise missiles, hunting and tracking submarines, airspace surveillance and support to special operations forces.

Longer than two football fields, the ship is 80 feet wide and weighs more than 15,000 long tons when fully loaded. Twin gas turbine engines can push the ship through the water at more than 30 knots. Zumwalt is named in honor of Adm. Elmo R. “Bud” Zumwalt Jr., who served as Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy’s most senior uniformed officer, from 1970 to 1974.

Betancourt said it is an exciting time to be in the Navy, helping to build a crew and a ship from scratch, something she never expected to be doing just a couple of years ago. She also said she is proud of the work she is doing to help commission and man one of the Navy’s newest ships. As a 29- year-old with numerous responsibilities, Betancourt said she is learning about herself as a leader, sailor and a person.

“I’ve learned patience,” Betancourt.said

“Joining the Navy was the best choice I have ever made. It has provided much needed structure to my life,” she added.

“USS Zumwalt represents the beginning of another era of service for this great name,” Capt. Kirk said. “Just as Admiral Zumwalt helped shape our nation’s Navy as the 19th Chief of Naval Operations, this ship will help shape the future of surface combatants. The sophisticated new technologies incorporated aboard this ship, combined with its multi-mission capabilities, will ensure it is a relevant and integral part of our battle force for years to come.”

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