PECHS graduate on patrol in Middle East with U.S. Navy

Published 10:06 am Thursday, September 17, 2015

A 2009 Prince Edward County High School graduate from Farmville is serving overseas aboard the U.S. Navy Coastal Patrol Ship USS Monsoon (PC-4), living and working at a Navy base in Manama, Bahrain.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Craig Keup is a boatswain’s mate on the Bahrain-based ship. Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Arabian Gulf.
“As a boatswain’s mate I get my hands on many different things, like underway replenishment details and driving the ship in and out of port,” said Keup.

The Monsoon was commissioned in 1994 and is one of the Navy’s 13 Cyclone-class ships designed for coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance.

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“It’s a small crew on the ship, so there’s lots of mutual repsect,” said Keup. “I get to do a variety of things like being part of a gun crew and getting involved with a variety of jobs on the ship.”

With approximately four officers and 25 enlisted comprising the ship’s company, jobs are highly varied which keeps the ship mission ready — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the propulsion system.

As a member of the crew, Keup and other Monsoon Sailors know they are part of a forward-deployed naval forces team that is heavily relied upon to help protect and defend America on the world’s oceans.

“It’s not a nine to five job, it’s much more. There’s hardly any down time,” said Keup. “I’ve been overseas most of my career.”

In addition to the Monsoon, another seven Cyclone-class coastal patrol ships and two Avenger-class mine countermeasures ship are forward deployed in Bahrain.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Keup said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor and a person.

“I’ve learned how to work with a wide range of people,” said Keup. “It’s an ongoing evolution.”