Mount Union native serves aboard Navy’s largest amphibious warship

Photo By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Isaiah Sellers
Petty Officer 3rd Class Kianne Aponte

SAN DIEGO — A 2015 Mount Union Area High School graduate and Mount Union native is serving aboard the largest amphibious warship in the Navy.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Kianne Aponte is a personnel specialist serving aboard USS Boxer, based in San Diego.

As a navy personnel specialist, Aponte is responsible for maintaining the records for everyone that is on the ship.

“I have learned the importance of prioritizing my life,” Aponte said. “The needs of the Navy come first, however, you always need to make sure you make time for yourself.”

Boxer is an amphibious assault ship that resembles a small aircraft carrier. Approximately 3,000 sailors and marines serve aboard the ship. Their jobs are highly specialized, requiring both dedication and skill. The jobs range from maintaining engines to handling weaponry, along with a multitude of other assignments that keep the ship mission-ready at all times, according to navy officials.

Boxer is famous for playing a critical role in the rescue mission of Capt. Richard Phillips on April 12, 2009. U.S. Navy SEALS and other special operations forces from USS Bainbridge rescued Phillips, who was later transferred to Boxer for medical evaluation and care. This successful rescue mission was portrayed in the 2013 movie, “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks, and featuring crew members from the Boxer.

The ship is armed with two semi-active radar-guided NATO Sea Sparrow missile systems for anti-air warfare protection, two rolling airframe missile systems and two Phalanx close-in weapon-system mounts to counter threats from low-flying aircraft and close-in small craft.

It’s 844 feet long and 106 feet wide and weighs nearly 45,000 tons, with two gas turbine engines that push the ship through water at more than 22 knots.

As a member of the U.S. Navy’s amphibious assault ship, Aponte is proud to be part of the most capable amphibious force in the world.

Aponte’s proudest accomplishment was becoming both enlisted surface and air qualified.

“The success of our surface force ships is measured by our ability to provide fleet commanders with combat naval power at sea and to project that power ashore where and when it matters,” said Vice Adm. Richard A. Brown, commander, Naval Surface Forces. “It’s hard work to ready ships for combat operations at sea –it takes the talent of an entire crew working well together. I’m extremely proud of the each and every surface warrior’s contributions to the navy’s enduring mission of protecting and defending America, at home and around the world.”

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

“Serving in the navy has given me a sense of responsibility because I am not only a sailor in the navy, but I am a United States citizen,” Aponte said. “This ship will always be special to me because this was my first navy command and it has set the tone for my navy career.”