PHOTO - Clearwater Native Serves Aboard Future Navy Warship

MARINETTE, WI - A 1996 Clearwater Central Catholic High School graduate and Clearwater, Florida, native is serving aboard the future USS Sioux City, a littoral combat ship homeported in Mayport, Florida.

Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Branch is a fire controlman responsible for operation, maintenance and troubleshooting of the ship’s weapon systems.

“I enjoy being underway,” said Branch. "Being at sea and making sure my systems work properly to ensure the effectiveness of the mission are two of my greatest satisfactions."

Sioux City is a Freedom variant littoral combat ship that is a resilient flexible warship, designed from the keel up to affordably take on new capabilities – from the most advanced sensors, to the latest missiles, to cutting-edge cyber systems. Its speed, strength and versatility make it a critical tool to help our Sailors achieve the mission.

Littoral combat ships are a fast, agile, mission-focused platform designed to operate in near-shore environments, while capable of open-ocean tasking, and win against 21st-century coastal threats such as submarines, mines, and swarming small craft.

Sailors’ jobs are highly varied aboard Sioux City. Increased automation equals a smaller crew. In the case of LCS 11, that is a core of 70 men and women who keep all parts of the ship running smoothly. Minimally manned crews place high demands on Sailors. Each crew member performs a number of tasks outside of their traditional job or rating.

“My success aboard this ship is due to the overwhelming motivation and steady strain this crew maintains, no matter what is required of them,” said Cmdr. Randy Malone, Sioux City’s commanding officer. “These men and women are unmatched. They adapt and overcome any challenge thrown at them. From the moment we moved aboard the ship, each Sailor has had to wear three or four different hats for the ship to run smoothly. I am honored to serve with them.”

Chief Branch is the first in his family to join the military.

“It was something I thought about when I was younger,” said Branch. “I joined some years after high school and I don’t regret it.”

Branch’s proudest accomplishment is making his family proud of his service.

“You need to be proud of your work,” Branch said. "If you cannot be proud, then there is no point in doing it and you should find a different job."

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s high-tech littoral combat ships, Branch and other Sioux City sailors are proud to be part of a warfighting team.

“Serving in the military means honor and tradition,” said Smith. “The Navy is the most diverse of the armed services branches. From Special Forces and Seabees to air wings and nuclear powered ships, we do it all and make it work.”

Sioux City is the thirteenth littoral combat ship to enter the fleet and the sixth of the Freedom variant. It is the first ship named after Sioux City, the fourth-largest city in Iowa. During its November 17 commissioning ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, the warship will be officially placed into active service. The ceremony includes “bringing the ship to life” and other orders rooted in centuries old naval tradition.

For information about the commissioning ceremony, visit Join the conversation on Facebook at

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