Huntington Beach native serves aboard versatile warship half a world away

Seaman Apprentice Chance Coogle. Photo by Senior Chief Petty Officer Gary Ward.

Seaman Apprentice Chance Coogle, a native of Huntington Beach, California, said serving in the Navy is a “family thing.”

“I’m the seventh generation of Coogle to enlist, and none have retired – it’s a neat tradition,” he said. “They were all in the Navy. My dad served in the Gulf War, my grandfather in Vietnam, my great-grandfather was a gunner’s mate in WWII, it goes on and on like that.”

Now, two years after taking his own oath, and half a world away at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Coogle serves aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain, patrolling one of the world’s busiest maritime regions as part of the leading-edge of U.S. 7th Fleet.

“It’s cozy,” Coogle said. “Everything’s right where you need it to be, you’re not really going to get lost. It’s like a little town. I like it, you get to see everybody every day. Of all the ships to be on, I think this is a good one.”

Coogle, a 2017 graduate of Edison High School, is an operations specialist aboard the Yokosuka, Japan-based ship, one of several in its class forward-deployed to the region.

“I track air and surface contacts and can contact them over international air distress channels, it’s pretty important,” Coogle said. “If we identify them incorrectly, that aircraft is at higher risk of getting shot down … those times I get to do my job, I feel fulfilled.”

Coogle credits part of his success in the Navy to lessons learned in Huntington Beach.

“”It is what it is,’ was a pretty big quote around the house and I certainly carried it into the Navy,” he said. “Biggest thing I’ve learned is how important family is … I haven’t seen them for just about as long as I’ve served, but I know I can still depend on them, which is really important.”

U.S. 7th Fleet spans more than 124 million square kilometers, stretching from the International Date Line to the India/Pakistan border; and from the Kuril Islands in the North to the Antarctic in the South. U.S. 7th Fleet’s area of operations encompasses 36 maritime countries and 50 percent of the world’s population with between 50-70 U.S. ships and submarines, 140 aircraft, and approximately 20,000 sailors.

“I’m meeting people of all walks of life, especially being close to Tokyo,” Coogle said. “I definitely think that being stationed in the 7th Fleet has given me a lot of opportunities I wouldn’t have had back home. Hanging out with the Japanese is cool, and the stories I’m going to be able to tell when I get back are going to be rich and full of excitement.”

With more than 50 percent of the world’s shipping tonnage and a third of the world’s crude oil passing through the region, the United States has historic and enduring interests in this part of the world. The Navy’s presence in Yokosuka is part of that long-standing commitment.

“The Navy is forward-deployed to provide security and strengthen relationships in a free and open Indo-Pacific. It’s not just the ships and aircraft that have shown up to prevent conflict and promote peace,” said Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. “It is, and will continue to be our people who define the role our Navy plays around the world. People who’ve made a choice, and have the will and strength of character to make a difference.”

Destroyers are warships that provide multi-mission offensive and defensive capabilities. They are 510 feet long and armed with tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles, Standard Missile-3 and newer variants of the SM missile family, advanced gun systems and close-in gun systems.

Destroyers are deployed globally and can operate independently or as part of carrier strike groups, surface action groups, or amphibious readiness groups. Their presence helps the Navy control the sea. Sea control is the precondition for everything else the Navy does. It cannot project power, secure the commons, deter aggression, or assure allies without the ability to control the seas when and where desired.

John S. McCain has anti-aircraft capability armed with long range missiles intended for air defense to counter the threat to friendly forces posed by manned aircraft, anti-ship, cruise and tactical ballistic missiles.

Serving in the Navy means Coogle is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, 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.

“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.”

There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career. Coogle is appreciative of the places he’s seen and explored, like climbing Mount Fuji and watching the sun rise off the coast of China.

“I’ve gotten to really find out about how big and expansive the world is outside of home. It’s pretty nice, I’m pretty proud of that actually,” said Coogle.

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

“As much of a mixed bag as service is, it’s more pros than cons,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to college. I’m 20, living on the other side of the world, basically on my own. It teaches you how to be an adult, whether you’re ready for it or not.”

This article was written by Lt. Jake Joy, Navy Office of Community Outreach.