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Queens Native Serves on a “City at Sea” Aboard Navy’s Largest Amphibious Warfare Ship

A Queens, New York, native and 2006 Richmond Hill High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island.
Petty Officer 1st Class Xiomara Siapno is a legalman aboard the amphibious assault ship operating out of San Diego. A legalman is responsible for notary, power of attorneys, assisting with court documents, performing military justice including nonjudicial punishment and military separations.

Siapno credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Queens.

“Being from New York, I went to a very diverse school,” said Siapno. “Before the military, I learned it takes different backgrounds to make things happen. Everyone has different ideas and it can all contribute to the task and goals.”

Makin Island, one of the Navy’s most advanced and largest amphibious ships, 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.

The ship, which resembles a small aircraft carrier, is longer than two football fields at 847 feet, is 106 feet wide and weighs more than 41,000 tons fully loaded. It has gas turbine engines and two variable speed electric motors that can push the ship through the water in excess of 20 knots. It can carry more than 12 helicopters and six fixed-wing aircraft.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Makin Island. More than 1,000 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 1,700 Marines can be embarked. It is capable of transporting Marines and landing them where they are needed via helicopters, vertical takeoff and landing aircraft and landing craft.

“Makin Island is one of the most advanced warships on the waterfront, but she’s nothing without her crew,” said Capt. David Oden, commanding officer of Makin Island. “They’ve proved themselves time and time again, and their level of professionalism and dedication is second to none.”

These amphibious assault ships project power from the sea serving as the cornerstone of the amphibious ready group. Makin Island was delivered to the Navy in April 2009 and is the first U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship to be equipped with both gas turbines and auxiliary propulsion system instead of steam boilers.

These ships support special operations and expeditionary warfare missions, transporting U.S. Marines from sea to shore through a combination of aircraft and water landing craft. Because of their inherent capabilities, these ships have been and will continue to be called upon to support humanitarian and other contingency missions on short notice.

“I have been in the Navy for 12 years and I feel like I have some wisdom to bring to the Makin Island,” said Siapno. “I am looking forward to sharing my experiences to help new sailors know their options and the great programs the Navy offers.”

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

“Serving in the Navy means being selfless,” added Siapno. “I am the provider for my family. It’s not just me, I am a part of a team. It means looking out for others. This is my second family.”

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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