Hunter Esper

Temple native Hunter Esper is serving as a fireman on the Navy’s newest warship, the USS Fort Lauderdale.

NORFOLK, Va. — Fireman Hunter Esper, a native of Temple, serves aboard the Navy’s newest warship operating out of Norfolk, Va. USS Fort Lauderdale, an amphibious transport dock ship, was commissioned July 30 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“If there is one thing that history has shown us from the days of antiquity, it is that the stakes of the competition for control of the seas are high and for our part, USS Fort Lauderdale stands ready to deliver on any day, and at any time,” Capt. James Quaresimo, the ship’s commanding officer, said in a news release. “And those that may wish to challenge us — they should pause. For we are equipped with America’s unstoppable secret weapon that our enemies will never be able to duplicate and that is the fierce, dedicated and unstoppable, men and women of the United States Navy and Marine Corps.”

Esper joined the Navy 1½ years ago. Today, Esper serves as a damage controlman.

“I come from a long line of Navy service,” Esper said. “I joined to carry on that legacy. I also joined to mature. I knew the Navy would be a good way to transition from childhood to adulthood.”

Growing up in Temple, Esper attended Belton High School and graduated in 2020. Today, Esper relies upon skills and values similar to those found in Temple to succeed in the military.

“My hometown taught me the importance of hard work,” Esper said. “That’s a helpful skill to have because it has helped me stay financially stable. I understand the value of the paychecks I work for.”

These lessons have helped Esper while serving aboard USS Fort Lauderdale, the release said.

Amphibious transport dock ships are warships used to transport and land Marines, their equipment and supplies by embarked Landing Craft Air Cushion or conventional landing craft and amphibious assault vehicles augmented by helicopters or vertical take-off and landing aircraft, the release said. These ships support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions, and serve as secondary aviation platforms for amphibious operations.

Serving in the Navy means Esper is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on strengthening alliances, modernizing capabilities, increasing capacities and maintaining military readiness in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy contributes to the National Defense Strategy because our presence is known around the world,” Esper said. “That deters our adversaries.”

With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95% of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through fiber-optic cables lying on the ocean floor, Navy officials continue to emphasize the importance of accelerating America’s advantage at sea.

“Maintaining the world’s best Navy is an investment in the security and prosperity of the United States, as well as the stability of our world,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, chief of Naval Operations. “The U.S. Navy — forward deployed and integrated with all elements of national power — deters conflict, strengthens our alliances and partnerships, and guarantees free and open access to the world’s oceans. As the United States responds to the security environment through integrated deterrence, our Navy must continue to deploy forward and campaign with a ready, capable, combat-credible fleet.”

Esper and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“My proudest Navy accomplishment is commissioning USS Fort Lauderdale,” Esper said.

As Esper and other sailors continue to train and perform missions, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy means I am a part of something bigger than myself,” Esper said.