Chief Petty Officer Marnika Ash is a 2006 graduate of Eustis High School. These days, you’ll find her serving as a culinary specialist assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine. With a crew of 300 sailors, each crew member’s job is important to the smooth operation of the ship. The jobs range from weapon handling to navigation.
“I am a food service manager for a division of 31 personnel and 93 supply department spaces,” Marnika says. “I work in the heart of the ship and my division has a direct impact on the crew morale.”
According to the press release from the United State Navy, as a culinary specialist, Marnika is directly in charge of requisition, procurement, storage, and accounting of food service, inventory, and equipment.
DDG 116 is currently undergoing tests and trials in preparation for delivery to the U.S. Navy from shipbuilder Bath Iron Works. Arleigh Burke class destroyers measure approximately 500 feet long and are powered by four gas turbines that allow the ship to achieve over 30 mph in open seas. Destroyers are tactical multi-mission surface combatants capable of conducting anti-air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and ballistic missile defense, as well as humanitarian assistance. Fast, maneuverable, and technically advanced, destroyers provide the required warfighting expertise and operational flexibility to execute a variety of missions.
Much of what Marnika learned while living in Eustis is helping with her Navy career.
“I moved to Eustis as a teenager and lost my father at the age of 15,” she says. “This caused an abundant amount of financial strain on my family and ultimately, the security of my family’s future. This fueled my determination and I was humbled during that phase in my life as my circumstances helped me to excel. Family is important to me because my decisions positively affect the people that I care about the most.”
Marnika is especially proud of making chief petty officer and being selected as a limited duty officer. “This is my first step in life to achieving my goals, but who’s to say I might make this a permanent career. As of now, I can say I have so many options and opportunities that can only lead to my ultimate success.”
However, Marnika isn’t the only one in her family with a military connection. She joined the Navy and went through boot camp with her twin sister Tarmika. “My cousin, brother-in-law, and husband are currently in the Navy, and my little sister, Kiarra Dancy, will be going to boot camp this summer.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s newest ships, Ash and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means everything to me,” Marnika says. “It has assisted me with where I am and who I am today. I love putting on my uniform every morning.”
The ship is scheduled for commissioning later this year in Boston, Massachusetts.