Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brian T. Glunt. Petty Officer 2nd Class Teairra Simone, a native of Brandon, is a U.S. Navy fire controlman aboard the guided-missile cruiser operating out of Pearl Harbor.

By Chief Specialist Erica R. Gardner, Navy Communications

A Brandon native and 2014 Armwood High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the guided-missile cruiser, USS Port Royal.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Teairra Simone Richards has served in the Navy for four years and is a U.S. Navy fire controlman aboard guided-missile cruiser operating out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

As a Navy fire controlman, Richards is responsible for operating and maintaining combat and weapons systems, missile systems and gunfire control systems. He credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Brandon.

“I was taught to take every day and task one day at a time,” said Richards. “Also as long as you work hard and stay true to yourself, success will come your way.”

Approximately 300 men and women serve aboard the ship. According to Navy officials, their jobs are highly specialized and keep each part of the cruiser running smoothly.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Richards is most proud of being promoted from a seaman recruit to a petty officer second class in under four years.

“I am proud because of the constant grind that includes taking the second class exam four times,” said Richards.

A Navy cruiser is a multi-mission ship that can operate independently or as part of a larger group of ships at sea. It is equipped with a vertical launching system, tomahawk missiles, torpedoes, guns and a phalanx close-in weapons systems.

Being stationed in Pearl Harbor means Richards is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”

The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades.