Tulsan in service on USS Tulsa

Mass communications specialist William Stephens, supports USS Tulsa (LCS 16) in the U.S. 7th Fleet

PHILIPPINE SEA (July 16, 2021) — A Sailor born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, serves aboard Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Tulsa (LCS 16), a U.S. Navy vessel named to honor Oklahoma’s second-largest city.

Petty Officer 2nd class William Chase Stephens is a mass communications specialist (MC) stationed aboard the Guam-based submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), and volunteered to fill a critical manning gap as the MC aboard Tulsa during its rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

Stephens was born in Tulsa, and split his time between Tulsa and Amarillo, Texas, until attending Navy Recruit Training Command (boot camp). To Stephens, serving aboard Tulsa holds nostalgia about his father, and cements the meaning of military service. Regarding his time aboard Tulsa, “it means something knowing that one of the tools used for protecting freedom and democracy for all is named after your home,” said Stephens. “It’s a certain level of hometown pride that I feel like few will experience during their lifetime.”

USS Tulsa

Stephens said he joined the Navy because he had a strong desire to carry on his family’s legacy of Naval service. His father served as an electronic warfare technician on the former Tarawa-class amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood (LHA 3). His great-great uncle, Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Wilfred John Batenhorst, was lost when the Portland-class heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis (CA 35) was torpedoed near the end of World War II in the Philippine Sea. Because of his family’s rich Naval history, this motivated him to enlist and gain a sense of closeness about his great-great uncle, who he will never meet.

“I feel a particularly strong connection to Tulsa because I spent a lot of time there during the most formative years of my life and that’s when I got to know my dad, as a man, rather than how I ‘knew’ him as a child,” said Stephens. “In 2019 my dad passed away in Tulsa while I was in ‘A’ school, so there will always be a part of me that lies in Tulsa.”

USS Tulsa

In Tulsa, Stephens attended Thomas Edison Preparatory School. In Amarillo, he graduated from Tascosa High School, as a member of Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC). He attributes personal and professional guidance to join the Navy to his instructors Master Chief Petty Officer Dennis Mills and Marine Maj. Diego Barela.

Stephens attended accession training (“A” School) following boot camp in 2018, where he went to receive technical training in the MC field. He recently reported to Frank Cable, forward-deployed to Guam, where its crew provides maintenance and resupply capabilities to submarines both in port and at sea. While underway on Tulsa, Stephens found out he was selected for advancement to Petty Officer 2nd Class.

As an MC, Stephens spends most of his days documenting daily operations through stories, photos and videos, highlighting fellow junior Sailors and their military service to the U.S. Aboard Tulsa, he worked directly with the ship’s leadership, helping to tell the Navy’s story of life aboard a rotationally-deployed LCS. He covered integrated operations between Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21 and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 5, underway replenishment with USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199), and Sailors’ routine maintenance on ship’s equipment.

USS Tulsa

Tulsa, attached to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, is on a rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the region, and to work alongside allied and partner navies to provide maritime security and stability, key pillars of a free and open Indo-Pacific.

As the U.S. Navy’s destroyer squadron forward-deployed in Southeast Asia, DESRON 7 serves as the primary tactical and operational commander of littoral combat ships rotationally deployed to Singapore, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7’s Sea Combat Commander, and builds partnerships through training exercises and military-to-military engagements.

ESG 7, composed of Amphibious Squadron 11, DESRON 7, HSC-25, Mine Countermeasures Squadron 7, Naval Beach Unit 7, and USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19), is the Navy’s only forward-deployed amphibious force, and is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and is responsible for the full range of expeditionary operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

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