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Kingsport native serves at weather center supporting world’s largest Naval fleet

Alvin Plexico, Navy Office of Community Outreach • Aug 2, 2019 at 10:30 AM

NORFOLK, Va. – Most Americans rely on weather forecasts to plan their daily routine. The U.S. Navy is no different. With numerous ships, submarines and airplanes deployed in the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s area of operations, sailors stationed at the Fleet Weather Center, in Norfolk, Virginia, make it their primary mission to monitor extreme weather conditions in support of the fleet’s daily operations.

Airman Austin Mullins, a 2017 Volunteer High School graduate and native of Kingsport, Tennessee, is one of these sailors serving at the Fleet Weather Center, which is responsible for providing timely, comprehensive and tactically relevant information for ships, submarines, aircraft and other commands operating out of the Hampton Roads area.

As a Navy aerographer's mate, Mullins is responsible for providing weather observations for Navy commands ashore and Navy ships at sea.

Mullins credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned growing up in Kingsport. “I appreciate the importance of critical thinking,” said Mullins. "This is really important to my job."

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.

“Naval Oceanography defines and applies the physical environment for the entire Navy fleet from the bottom of the ocean to the stars,” said Rear Adm. John Okon, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. “There isn't a plane that flies, a ship or a submarine that gets underway without the sailors and civilians of Naval Oceanography.”

Mullins is playing an important part 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.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Mullins is most proud of graduating aerographer's school. “I had to study and pass tests to verify I had the skills needed to do my job,” said Mullins.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Mullins and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

“It feels nice to protect freedom,” added Mullins. "Although this command feels like a home away from home, I appreciate all the support from those back home."

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