Original story by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Wyscaver, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A 2014 Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technician High School graduate and New Bedford, Massachusetts, native is serving aboard an Avenger mine countermeasure ship designed to clear mines from vital waterways across the globe.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ethan McGregor is a Navy mineman serving aboard USS Champion under the command of Commander, Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

As a Navy mineman, McGregor is responsible for operating and maintaining the ships sonar systems.

“I enjoy mine hunting and using my training to utilize my skills while we are underway,” said McGregor.

McGregor credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in New Bedford.

“Patience is important when you’re doing the kind of work we do," said McGregor. "Having good communication skills is also key to working well with others.”

Mine countermeasure ships are designed as mine sweepers/hunter-killers capable of finding, classifying and destroying moored and bottom mines. These ships use sonar and video systems, cable cutters and a mine detonating device that can be released and detonated by remote control.

Hunting mines is a slow, laborious task that requires a ship to stay in one small area until it’s done, according to Navy reports. Since 1945, mines have sunk almost four times more US ships than all other threats combined, said Navy officials.

The worldwide threat, which today totals more than a million weapons of some 300 different types, from rudimentary but still-dangerous World War I-era contact mines to highly sophisticated, multiple-influence and programmable weapons, reports the Navy. These figures are for sea mines, proper; they do not include underwater-improvised explosive devices that can be fashioned from fuel bladders, 50-gallon drums, and even discarded refrigerators.

The ships use remotely operated mine disposal system and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) mine neutralization system. The disposal system detects, locates, classifies and neutralizes moored mines and mines resting on the seabed. The vehicle uses high-frequency, high-resolution sonar, low light level television, cable cutters and explosive charges to detect and dispose of mines, while remaining tethered to the vessel by a cable and under control of the vessel. Each ship accommodates a crew of 80.

“I enjoy the camaraderie among the crew here," said McGregor. "We really come together to accomplish the mission.”

As part of the Navy, McGregor explained that sailors are helping to build a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, including helping to develop new war-fighting capabilities to continue the Navy’s success on the world’s oceans.

“My grandfather served in the Army during the Korean War,” said McGregor. “Serving in the Navy is very rewarding. It gives me a sense of purpose in that I’m contributing to something bigger than myself.”

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