Dagupeño among first to serve aboard US first ‘stealth ship’

DAGUPAN CITY — A navy personnel who hailed from this city is now serving as part of the Pre-Commissioning Unit for the first US Navy stealth ship USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116).

Prince Apollo Tangco-Natac is a sailor assigned to DDG 116 in Bath, Maine, whose responsibility covers that of ship preservation, line handling, refueling at sea, and painting the exterior of the ship.

Natac, in an interview via Facebook Messenger, said he began serving in the US Navy in December 2017, and has since experienced ‘underway’ (short deployment) in various assignments.

“Every assignment and mission is a new experience for me, it is an opportunity to learn new things and know more people,” he said.

Natac, now 24, was born of Filipino parents who migrated to Oakland California, where he also moved in after he finished a degree in Information Technology at Lyceum Northwestern University here in 2014.

He grew up in Dagupan City, graduating from Doña Victorina Elementary School and Saint John Catholic School in high school.

In his new assignment to serve in the new-generation US Navy ship, Natac has carried lessons learned from his hometown into his military service.

“Respect is the most important thing I can show to my shipmates. It is probably the first thing I learned when I spent my childhood and adolescence in Dagupan,” he said.

He is glad to carry the family tradition of military service.

“My grandfather and uncle were both retired Navy officials, and another uncle is currently serving in Japan as a culinary specialist first class,” Natac added.

According to an article written by the Navy Office of Community Outreach, the USS Thomas Hudner’s (DDG-116) keel was laid down on November 16, 2015 and the warship was officially launched on April 23, 2017, with commissioning scheduled later this year.

The warship represents the next step in the evolution of the Arleigh Burke-class, known under the designation of “Flight III” (three total flights dot the Arleigh Burke fleet), forced upon the US Navy after the reduction-in-number of the technologically-laden Zumwalt-class destroyer group. The ship is the first in its class to boast of technology insertion. Ahikam Pasion/PNA-northboundasia.com