Phoenix native keeping seas free in the Middle East

Phoenix native Jose Barraza. (Submitted photo)

Phoenix native Jose Barraza. (Submitted photo)

A 1996 Valley Alternative Magnet High School graduate and Phoenix native is helping the U. S. Navy keep sea lanes safe and open in the Middle East, serving on the mine countermeasures ship USS Gladiator (MCM-11).

Chief Petty Officer Jose Barraza is a Navy machinist’s mate and lives who works at a Navy base in Manama, Bahrain, where the Gladiator is based. Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Arabian Gulf, according to a press releaes.

A Navy machinist’s mate is the maintenance manager aboard a ship, the release stated.

“I enjoy leading Sailors and building camaraderie,” stated Chief Petty Officer Barraza in the release. “As a mentor to a lot of junior Sailors, I make sure they’re doing the right things to excel in their career paths.”

The Gladiator was commissioned in 1993 and is the second Navy ship to bear this name. It is one of the Navy’s 11 Avenger class mine countermeasures ships that are designed to remove mines from vital waterways and harbors.

“The minesweeping community is very small and high tempo,” stated Barraza in the release. “You get to know all your Sailors on a personal level and help them further their career goals.”

The Gladiator is 224 feet long, 39 feet wide and displaces 1,312 tons of water. It is powered by four diesel engines and can reach speeds of more than 16 mph, the release stated.

With approximately eight officers and 80 enlisted comprising the ship’s company, jobs are highly varied which keeps the ship mission ready — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the propulsion system.

As a member of the crew, Barraza and other Gladiator Sailors know they are part of a forward deployed naval forces team that is heavily relied upon to help protect and defend America on the world’s oceans.

“I’m a Sailor and love being out to sea,” stated Barraza in the release. “It’s why I joined the Navy.”

In addition to Gladiator, three other Avenger class mine countermeasure ships are forward deployed in Bahrain along with ten Cyclone class coastal patrol ships.

The world is increasingly complex and crew members aboard Gladiator, as well as the other forward-deployed naval vessels in Bahrain, assist with assuring international sea lines between the Middle East and Europe remain open and help protect against possible maritime threats, stated the release.

As a Sailor with numerous responsibilities, deployed halfway around the world away from friends and family back home, Barraza said he is learning about himself as a leader, Sailor and a person.

“In the Navy you learn not to take anything for granted,” stated Barraza in the release. “What most people take for granted, we learn to value.”

Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Pat Migliaccio is a part of the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

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