By Jake Joy
Navy Office of
Special to the
Lt. j.g. Tyler Trumbly, an Auburn native, said he came from a very patriotic family background, with his grandfather, father and uncles all serving their country. His high school offered an NROTC program, and he said he enjoyed it, so after continuing to participate at Auburn University, he became the first of his family to join the U.S. Navy.
Now, three years later and half a world away, Trumbly serves aboard one of the Navy’s most dependable amphibious ships at Fleet Activities Sasebo, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of U.S. 7th Fleet.
“It’s great,” he said. “My first tour was on minesweeper, where I got used to living in a very confined space. I shared a room with nine people. Now, I share a room with one person. It’s way different.”
Trumbly, a 2011 graduate of Pelham High School and an Auburn alum, is a surface warfare officer aboard the forward-deployed Whidbey Island-class dock landing ship USS Ashland in Sasebo, Japan.
“I work in the combat information center, and serve as assistant operations officer, Trumbly siad. “I’m getting messages out, keeping timelines and maintenance schedules straight, and managing the career paths of enlisted guys there, helping them with their financial, educational and personal goals.”
Trumbly credits some of his success in the Navy to lessons he’s learned since setting out from Auburn.
“I had a desire to become a leader,” he said. “I was very introverted when I was younger. I stayed inside and played video games. I kind of stood in the back and let everyone else run the show. I wanted to challenge myself, and it’s made me grow and helped me make the tough decisions. Sometimes, you have to give someone tough love and ensure they account for their actions, but you get to help the younger sailors, teaching them to make the right decisions.”
U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50% of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.
“Sasebo is pretty quiet, but you still get that cultural aspect and shock,” Trumbly said. “I first got here and couldn’t shop because I couldn’t read items in the store. You get to see how the Japanese view the world. Even their family structure is very different. It’s been interesting to learn about them.”
With more than 50% of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Sasebo is part of that long-standing commitment.
“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who’ve made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”
USS Ashland is 610 feet long. The ship can travel at speed in excess of 20 nautical miles per hour. It is one of eight Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships currently in service. The ship’s primary purpose is to launch equipment and personnel for amphibious missions.
Approximately 22 officers and 390 enlisted men and women make up the ship’s company. Their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the ship running smoothly. The jobs range from washing dishes and preparing meals to maintaining engines and handling weaponry.
Serving in the Navy means Trumbly is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80% of the world’s population lives close to a coast and 90% of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
“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.”
There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Trumbly is most proud of helping other officers and sailors gain job qualifications and reach their goals.
“I remember when I was an ensign, I didn’t know anything, I didn’t know what the heck to do,” he said. “I want to help them get ahead so that they can become an even better officer than I am.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Trumbly and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“Service allows you to lead and to be able to meet new people from all over and get out of the American bubble,” he said. “There’s a lot of folks who don’t leave and never get to see how the rest of the world operates. It’s also a pride thing, I’m serving the country I love. Even though we struggle, we all want the common goal of making things better. I believe service is helping to do my part in fortifying our values.”