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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2021

Profiles in Professionalism: Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Yuankun Xia

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Vance Hand

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO (August 24, 2021) – U.S. Navy Reserve Sailor, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Yuankun Xia from St. Augustine, Fla., is supporting the littoral combat ship (LCS) community as a search and rescue (SAR) swimmer during many shipboard qualifications and operations at sea.

SAR swimmers are vital to the readiness of U.S. Navy ships and serve aboard all units underway. They are trained to recover individuals from the water within minutes and provide life-saving support in an emergency.

Xia has been assigned active duty orders to Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron (COMLCSRON) One as a SAR swimmer for the last seven months and has supported operations aboard USS Freedom (LCS 1), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Kansas City (LCS 22) and most recently, aboard USS Mobile (LCS 26).

“I have stayed busy with keeping up my qualifications and supporting several LCSs,” said Xi. “I take a lot of pride in being a SAR swimmer and have really loved being able to support so many crews.”

Becoming a SAR swimmer requires Sailors to meet demanding physical qualifications, use teamwork, be knowledgeable, and have the ability to work under pressure. What keeps Xia going is the moment he realized he wanted to become a SAR swimmer while he was on his first ship and during his first deployment.

“I remember the first time I saw two guys in their SAR gear; it immediately got my attention,” said Xia. “I asked them what the process was to join and with some help from the ship’s Chief Boatswain’s Mate, I was able to join.”

Candidates are first required to pass a physical fitness test consisting of push-ups, sit-ups, pull-ups, a 500-meter swim, and a one-and-a-half mile run. After passing the initial trial, candidates attend a four-week-long Surface Rescue Swimmer School in San Diego, Calif.

After successfully completing the course, candidates are sent to their specific platform they will be operating on to learn how to respond to emergency situations such as helicopter crashes, pilot recovery, man overboard and medical emergencies.

Xia’s first assignment as a SAR swimmer under COMLCSRON One was to assist USS Freedom (LCS 1) during their deployment in December of 2020.

“CS2 was vital in contributing to our success during completion of our pre-deployment underway training,” said Captain Lawrence Repass, commanding officer of USS Freedom (LCS 1). “Having a reserve Sailor integrate seamlessly as a FREEDOM crewmember demonstrated how active and reserve Sailors can work together to support any mission.”

Xia served aboard Mobile during their certification and sail-around from Mobile, Ala. to San Diego, Calif., Xia participated in multiple man overboard drills, boat recovery drills and boat crew training events.

“CS2’s hard work and enthusiasm were a great asset to Mobile,” said Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jerry Huang, the boatswain leading petty officer aboard Mobile. “He completed all the ship’s required SAR certifications in addition maintenance checks, boat operations and even stayed with the ship for sail around.”

Xia’s contributions to the squadron led the way for his fellow reservists to become SAR qualified as well. The goal is to increase the number of qualified reservist to be able to provide support and training for LCS ships when needed along the waterfront. Their presence and assistance promotes cooperation and cohesion between active and reserve duty Sailors.

The LCS is a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, winning against 21st-century coastal threats. The LCS is capable of supporting forward presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence.