By Specialist 3rd Class Theodore Quintana
Navy Office of Community Outreach
NORFOLK, VIRGINIA Winter Park High School graduate Petty Officer 2nd Class Dennis Rivera is serving on one of the world’s largest warships, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Rivera works as an operations specialist aboard the Norfolk-based ship, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and one of only 10 operational aircraft carriers in the Navy today. Operations specialists provide to their shipboard or shore-based command a wide range of technical information and assistance related to anti-surface warfare, anti-air warfare and anti-submarine warfare.
“I like standing watch in the combat information center and being exposed to all the different aspects of warfare that we control,” Rivera said.
Eisenhower, like each of the Navy’s aircraft carriers, is designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. Powerful catapults slingshot the aircraft off the bow of the ship, and those planes land upon their return to the aircraft carrier by snagging a steel cable with an arresting hook that protrudes from the rear of the aircraft. All of this makes Eisenhower a self-contained mobile airport and strike platform, often the first response to a global crisis because of an aircraft carrier’s ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.
“The various people on Eisenhower make serving aboard her enjoyable,” Rivera said.
Eisenhower was commissioned in 1977 and named after former president and Army general Dwight D. Eisenhower, who distinguished himself through service and leadership during World War II. As the supreme commander of Allied Forces in Western Europe during World War II, Eisenhower led the massive invasion of Nazi-occupied Europe on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Rivera and other Eisenhower sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.
“Serving in the Navy means putting on a uniform and doing my job to make sure the United States' flag flies high,” Rivera said.