SAN DIEGO – A McLoud, Oklahoma, native and 2015 McLoud High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard USS Portland, one of the Navy’s newest and most advanced amphibious ships.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan Lackey is a machinist's mate aboard the amphibious transport dock operating out of San Diego. A Navy machinist's mate is responsible for working on air conditioners, refrigeration, auxiliary equipment and hydraulic systems.

Lackey credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in McLoud.

“Growing up, I was taught to work hard no matter what you are doing,” said Lackey. “Our job can be difficult but you have to push through.”

Commissioned in 2017, Portland is designed to deliver Marines and their equipment where they are needed to support a variety of missions ranging from amphibious assaults to humanitarian relief efforts.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

Being stationed in San Diego, the principal homeport of the Pacific Fleet, means Lackey is playing an important part in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Portland. More than 400 men and women make up the ship's crew, which keeps all parts of the ship running smoothly, from handling weaponry to maintaining the engines. An additional 700 Marines can be embarked. Portland is capable of transporting Marines and landing them where they are needed via helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and landing craft.

These amphibious transport dock ships support sea-to-shore assaults, special operations or other warfare missions and can serve as secondary aviation platforms for amphibious ready groups. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

“The current and future success of USS Portland will be due to the hard work and dedication from each member of the crew,” said Capt. Tony Rodriguez, commanding officer of USS Portland. “Every sailor knows their role and purpose within the ship. By maintaining high standards and sound shipboard operating procedures we can ensure we are ready to answer when the nation calls.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Lackey, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Lackey is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My great grandfather was in the military, and my uncle was in the National Guard,” said Lackey.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Lackey and other Portland sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nations needs.

“Serving in the Navy means everything to me because it gives me my livelihood,” Lackey added. “It offers great opportunities, like education.”