By Petty Officer 3rd Class Santiago Navarro
A Poughkeepsie, New York native and 2020 Arlington High School graduate is serving aboard the U.S. Navy’s Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG 54).
Andres Nieves is an Aviation Electrician’s Mate or AE who is assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 51, based in Naval Air Station Atsugi and is currently deployed aboard the Antietam as part of the squadron. Nieves works for the ship’s air department.
Aviaition Electrician’s Mate are responsible for servicing the electrical components of the Navy’s aircrafts such as electrical generators and lighting. They provide the maintenance necessary for aircraft to carry out operations.
“I enjoy the troubleshooting aspect of my job”, said Nieves. “It’s like a game when we have an issue, we have to figure out what’s causing it, and then go about fixing it step by step.”
As an Airman, Nieves currently continues to learn on-the-job skills aligned with the AE rate.
He also assists in the regularly scheduled maintenance in between the flights of the two MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopters on the Antietam such as performing equipment function tests and preventing corrosion.
“I help things run more smoothly within my shop,” said Nieves. “The shop has another set of hands to go out and add grease to the machine.”
Nieves’ military service runs in his family and also has a brother who also worked in aviation in the Navy.
“I saw that my brother was in aviation and it piqued my interest,” said Nieves. “In a way, I am following in his footsteps.”
Despite being a junior Sailor, Nieves is motivated to learn his rate and hopes to make a career out of the Navy.
“I want to excel in my job and get qualified in my sister rate of Aviation Electronics Technician,” said Nieves. “My goal is to stay in at least 20 and make it to Senior Chief.”
The Antietam returned to sea on May 19th after a ten month in-port period. The ship participated in a bilateral exercise from late May to early June with South Korea in the Philippine Sea as part of Carrier Strike Group 5, which includes the CSG 5 flagship USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG 65). The exercise tested the interoperability between the two nations.
Antietam participated in a photo exercise on June 12th, which included Reagan and Benfold, as well as other ships such as the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and the USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62).
Antietam is attached to Commander, Task Force 70/ Carrier Strike Group 5 conducting underway operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.