A St. Peters, Missouri, native and 1999 Francis Howell North High School graduate is serving in Japan in the U.S. Navy aboard one of the forward-deployed mine countermeasures ship, USS Chief.

Command Master Chief Petty Officer Ricky Schaefer serves aboard the Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship, operating out of Sasebo, Japan. The ship routinely deploys to protect alliances, enhance partnerships, and be ready to respond if a natural disaster occurs in the region.

A Navy command master chief serves as command-level senior enlisted leader in a variety of Navy commands afloat and ashore. They have a significant role in every aspect of command-wide readiness and mission accomplishment. They report directly to the commanding officer and work closely with the executive officer in the formulation and implementation of all policies concerning the morale, welfare, job satisfaction, discipline, utilization, and training of enlisted personnel. Command master chiefs are directly responsible for the chief petty officer mess professional development.

Schaefer is proud to serve in the Pacific and fondly recalls memories of St. Peters.

“Growing up I learned the moral values of knowing the difference between right and wrong,” said Schaefer. “I learned the importance of taking care of family members and friends. Having family and friends to lean on is the same as with my shipmates.”

Schaefer’s accomplishments include joining the chiefs community as a chief, senior chief and now master chief.

Moments like that makes it worth serving around the world ready at all times to defend America’s interests. With more than 50 percent 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, explained Navy officials.

With a crew of more than 80, Chief is 224 feet long and weighs approximately 1,300 tons. Chief is one of the Navy’s 11 Avenger-class mine countermeasures ships that are designed to neutralize mines from vital waterways and harbors. There are four minesweeper in Sasebo as part of the forward-deployed mine countermeasures force that are on-call to respond in the event of a mine-clearing operation in the Indo-Pacific.

MCMs in Sasebo routinely operate with allies and partners to build mine countermeasures proficiency and sustain our alliances.

“I love being forward deployed where we have the opportunity to make a difference and increase our partnerships with South Korea and Japan,” said Schaefer. “Serving in the Navy has established a structure that has helped me maintain routines. I am always staying on the right side of right so I don’t go down the wrong path.”

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

Seventh Fleet, which is celebrating its 75th year in 2018, 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. Seventh Fleet’s area of operation encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors in the 7th Fleet.

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