Gibsonia native, Naval engineer in NATO exercise
Friday, June 21, 2019 | 12:01 AM
Petty Officer 1st Class Thomas Claypool, a native of Gibsonia, participated in the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) exercise with 18 other nations from June 9 to 21.
“This is my first NATO exercise,” Claypool said before the operation. “I’m looking forward to gaining more global awareness of what we do with our allies and NATO forces.”
Claypool is a gas turbine systems technician (electrical) aboard the USS Gravely, stationed in Norfolk, Va.
“I’m an engineer. I’ll be making sure the plant is steaming safe and that there’s power to the ship during the exercise,” Claypool said.
Gravely is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer.
The exercise began in Kiel, Germany, with the pre-sail conference. At-sea training was to occur throughout the Baltic Sea, including events scheduled near Putlos, Germany; Saaremaa Island, Estonia; Riga, Latvia; Klaipeda, Lithuania; and Ravlunda, Sweden. At the end of the exercise, most participating ships sailed to Kiel, Germany, to participate in the Kielerwochen Festival (Kiel Week).
Allied nations with ships and forces participating in BALTOPS 2019 include Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States. NATO partner nations Finland and Sweden will also participate in the exercise.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Claypool is most proud of a recent Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal he received for an intensive two-day audit of engineering gear under his watch.
“It shows that people see the work that I’ve done,” Claypool said.
As a member of one of the Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Claypool and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes contributing to the Navy the nation needs.
“I love my job, and I want to ensure that my family is safe at home, as well as everyone else,” Claypool said. “I feel more of a sense of accomplishment doing this for a greater good than just having a job.”