A German navy officer is currently underway on the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) as part of the Personnel Exchange Program (PEP).
Lt. Maik Welk, from Rostarch, Germany, brings nine years of experience in the German navy to Roosevelt where he currently serves as an assistant to the operations officer.
Growing up, the navy played a part in Welk’s life and has been a legacy in his family since his grandfather. However, it wasn’t until his teen years that he decided to make it a career choice.
“At some point in high school, I decided that this might be the right job for me,” said Welk. “My grandfather was an admiral in the German navy, which is comparable to an American admiral. Also, the city I grew up in was very close to the sea and had a naval base. Really, I was always attached to the sea and navy somehow.”
In 2004, he was commissioned as an officer and given his first assignment as the First Lieutenant aboard the German Bremen-class frigate Niedersachsen (F208).
While serving aboard Niedersachsen, he decided to submit a package for PEP in order to explore a navy other than his own. In September 2012, his request was granted and he was given orders to report to USS Roosevelt.
“It is a huge advantage to see an inside view into another navy and to see your navy from an outside perspective,” he said. “To have two different options when weighing decisions is an invaluable tool for an officer in any navy.”
During his time on board, Welk noted many similarities and differences between the American Navy and the German navy.
“There are a lot of similarities, because after all, a warship is a warship, and the things warships are doing are pretty similar,” he said. “The training at sea and drills are a constant, because every team must practice. However, the United States Navy does do some things differently which is very interesting to see.”
When asked about differences between the services, he noted the U.S. Navy’s system of anti-terrorism force protection measures and personnel manning system.
“The way the U.S. Navy mans stations, the way you utilize personnel and the way everybody is involved in the team is slightly different,” he said. “It’s not worse, or better per se, but just a different and valuable way of looking at it.”
Welk will remain stationed aboard Roosevelt during the upcoming deployment with the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike group and is looking forward to the opportunity.
“I am looking forward to hopefully going to ports in the Middle East,” he said. “I have seen a couple of ports already but not many in the Middle East. I also really want to work with the carrier because that is something we don’t have.”
After the deployment, he will return to his country’s navy to take up a new job, utilizing the training he has received aboard Roosevelt.
“There are many details I look forward to bringing home to my navy,” he said.
Welk is scheduled to leave Roosevelt to return to the German navy after the upcoming deployment to serve on his next ship as the Tactical Action Officer or Operations Officer.
Roosevelt is conducting its final pre-deployment evaluation with the George H.W. Bush Strike Group to achieve mission readiness and the ability to work alongside international allies in the execution of the Navy’s maritime strategy.
Press Release, December 10, 2013; Image: Wikimedia