By Stephanie Fox,
Navy Office of Community Outreach
Oxford resident Senior Chief Petty Officer Darwin King is serving as a Navy reservist with Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command in D.C. and supports exercise Cutlass Express 2021 in Mombasa, Kenya.
The exercise is an annual maritime exercise conducted to promote national and regional maritime security in East Africa and the Western Indian Ocean.
He joined the Navy 19 years ago for the opportunities serving provides. Today, King serves as a construction mechanic.
“Joining the military always appealed to me, so it was like jumping off a diving board,” said King. “Once you step off, you’re committed.”
King has a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Kettering University. King attributes this education to serving in the Navy.
“One of the greatest opportunities I’ve had as a sailor is the chance to learn a trade,” said King. “This served me well when I was active duty, but also opened doors for me to go back to school for higher education.”
While King has participated in many previous exercises, King said it was exciting to join the Navy this year in Mombasa.
“I normally support other exercises, but it was great to see how exercises in Africa are run,” said King. “It gave me the chance to see if there are any lessons to be learned and shared for future exercises I participate in.”
According to Navy officials, maritime forces from East Africa, West Indian Ocean nations, Europe, North America, and several international organizations began the multinational maritime exercise Cutlass Express 2021 with an opening ceremony held at the Bandari Maritime Academy in Mombasa, Kenya, July 26, 2021.
The exercise sponsored by U.S. Africa Command and led by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, U.S. Sixth Fleet, assesses and improves combined maritime law enforcement capacity, promotes national and regional security in East Africa, and increases interoperability between the U.S., African nations and international partners.
This year’s exercise leverages the recently adopted Jeddah Amendment to the Djibouti Code of Conduct, which 14 nations are signatories, as a framework for exercising information sharing practices and enforcing marine rule of law. The participating nations will be testing their ability to counter illicit trafficking, piracy, illegal fishing, as well as search and rescue situations.
Though there are many opportunities for sailors to earn recognition in their command, community and careers, King is most proud of having the opportunity to better other sailor.
“My greatest Navy accomplishment has been helping and watching junior sailors develop their skills,” said King.
As a member of the U.S. Navy, King, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.
“Serving in the Navy means that I have a lot of responsibility,” added King. “Not only to fellow military personnel, but also for the civilian population we represent.”