Santa Clarita Native Serves Aboard USS Gunston Hall

Fireman Michael Aguilar aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship operating out of Norfolk, VA. Courtesy photo

A 2009 Hart High School graduate and Santa Clarita native is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Gunston Hall.

Michael Aguilar is a fireman aboard the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship operating out of Norfolk, Virginia.

A Navy fireman is responsible for training and developing knowledge of the ship’s engineering spaces and equipment.

“I enjoy getting dirty,” said Aguilar. “I feel like I’ve accomplished something productive.”

Commissioned in 1989, the USS Gunston Hall is 610 feet long and can travel at speeds in excess of 20 nautical miles per-hour.

Gunston Hall is one of eight Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships currently in service. The ship’s primary purpose is to launch equipment and personnel for amphibious missions.

“I am intensely proud of the accomplishments of this crew and our maintenance team,” said Cmdr. Eric Lull, commanding officer, USS Gunston Hall. “Over the last 20 months, they have made improvements to the ship from stem to stern, and over the last few months specifically, they have brought her back to life. Thanks to their hard work, we are ready to return to sea and bring Gunston Hall back into the operational ranks of the fleet.”

Approximately 22 officers and 390 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the ship running smoothly. The jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.

“I work with a great group of guys that have really formed a brotherhood,” said Aguilar.

Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a ship, the challenging living conditions build strong fellowship among the crew. The crew is highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Aguilar and other Gunston Hall sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.

“This gives me the opportunity to experience new things and feel like I’m doing something with my life,” said Aguilar.



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