Petty Officer 2nd Class Ross Baker (Courtesy Photo/Navy Office of Community Outreach)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ethan Carter, Navy Office of Community Outreach

GAETA, Italy – Petty Officer 2nd Class Ross Baker, a Baltimore, Maryland, native assigned to Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet is serving aboard USS Mount Whitney.

Baker is a 2010 Saint Frances Academy graduate, who is currently serves as an operations specialist.

“Being an operations specialist means being a jack of all trades,” said Baker. “We partake in the majority of evolutions on a Navy vessel, ranging from combat scenarios, to navigations, and even communications. We work with radars and data links. We control aircraft and we send out messages. Currently, I am responsible for maintaining the maritime surface picture, which means I manage a real time tracking system for ships within the vicinity, in support of real world and exercise events.”

Baker joined the Navy seven years ago in search of a change from daily life.

“I was attending community college while working at U-Haul in Baltimore,” said Baker. “I felt it was time to expand and see something new. I was no stranger to traveling and experiencing new cultures but I wanted to build upon that and see the world outside of Maryland. I wanted adventure and a fresh start.

According to Baker, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in Baltimore.

“My mother always taught me to be able to move on my own, and be my own person,” said Baker. “Some difficult experiences in my past taught me not to take things personally and to appreciate the light at the end of tunnel, in other words, find the positives in hard situations. I learned to appreciate long-time friends and to cherish a good person when I find one. In order to succeed in the Navy, one needs to be focused and take initiative when doing their job. Times can be tough. You will need to take on challenges, not be afraid to ask for help, and learn to rely on your team.”

According to Navy officials, Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet’s mission is to develop and employ maritime forces ready to fight across multiple domains in the Atlantic and Arctic in order to ensure access, deter aggression and defend U.S., allied and partner interests.

USS Mount Whitney is the first ship in the U.S. Navy to bear this name and the first U.S. Navy combatant to permanently accommodate women on board. USS Mount Whitney serves as the Command Ship for Commander, Sixth Fleet/ Commander, Joint Command Lisbon/Commander, Striking Force NATO and has a complement of 150 enlisted personnel, 12 officers and 150 Civilian Mariners from Military Sealift Command.

Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, Baker is most proud of seeing people and experiencing new places all around the world.

“I have had the opportunity to visit over 12 countries in three continents,” said Baker. “I have made lifelong friends, mentored junior sailors, and found fantastic role models to look up to. Most importantly, I met the love of my life in the Navy. My wife was an OS in the Navy and we have been married for four years and we have a two-year-old son. The Navy has shown me the value of people, it has allowed me to experience new cultures, and it has given me a family both on and off the ship.”

As a member of the U.S. Navy, Baker, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a tradition providing the Navy the nation needs.

“The Navy is all about kinship and the strong bonds you make,” added Baker. “It is about opportunity. I came in here with nothing and now I have made lifelong friends, I am part of a team, I have family at home, and I am part of something that makes me feel proud. I look back and think about my life before I joined the Navy and it still impresses me today to see how far I have gone. The Navy has given me a great ride, and a new direction in life.”