A 2011 Folsom High School graduate and Folsom native is serving our country in the Navy, living on the coast of Spain, and participating in a critical NATO ballistic missile defense (BMD) mission while assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Carney.
Ensign Karyn Lee is a weapons division officer aboard one of the four advanced warships forward-deployed to Rota, Spain – a small village on the country’s southwest coast 65 miles south of the city of Seville.
A Navy weapons division officer is responsible for supervising of the gunner's mates, who are responsible for the vertical launchers onboard.
Lee credits success in the Navy with lessons learned growing up in Folsom.
“I grew up studying martial arts in Folsom, and my instructor always taught me the ‘And then some attitude,'” said Lee. “It means that you do more than what you're just told to do. Look ahead and work hard to exceed expectations.”
These four destroyers are forward-deployed in Rota to fulfill the United States’ phased commitment to NATO BMD while also carrying out a wide range of missions to support the security of Europe.
According to the NATO website, many countries have, or are trying to develop ballistic missiles. The ability to acquire these capabilities does not necessarily mean there is an immediate intent to attack NATO, but that the alliance has a responsibility to take any possible threat into account as part of its core task of collective defense.
U.S. Navy Aegis ballistic missile defense provides scalability, flexibility and mobility. These systems are equally beneficial to U.S. assets, allies and regional partners in all areas of the world. Positioning four ballistic missile defense ships in Spain provides an umbrella of protection to forward-deployed forces, friends and allies while contributing to a broader defense of the United States.
Guided-missile destroyers are 510 feet long warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. The ships are armed with tomahawk cruise missiles, advanced gun systems, close-in gun systems and long-range missiles to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.
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 necessity for everything the Navy does. The Navy cannot project power, secure the commons, deter aggression, or assure allies without the ability to control the seas when and where desired.
The ship is named after Adm. Robert Bostwick Carney, who served as Chief of Naval Operations during the Eisenhower administration.
“We have an outstanding team here and I am honored to lead one of the finest, most capable crews in the U.S. Navy,” said Commander Tyson Young, commanding officer of USS Carney. “Their continued efforts keep us as an integral part of U.S. 6th Fleet's presence in the region.”
While serving in the Navy may present many challenges, Lee has found many great rewards. Lee is proud of serving in the Navy, which has given her the opportunity and responsibility to lead and manage people at a really young age.
Unique experiences build strong fellowship among the crew of more than 300 women and men aboard Carney. Their hard work and professionalism are a testament to the namesake's dedication and the ship's motto, “Resolute, Committed, Successful.” 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.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Lee and other Carney sailors know they are a part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“I am very proud of commissioning through Officer Candidate School,” Lee said. “It was some of the hardest months of my life, mentally and physically.”