‘Travelling the world by sea is awesome’ | Lead Stories – Jamaica Gleaner

Kasine Kerr’s mother often envisioned her only son wearing a combat uniform.
He overcame many hurdles in his quest to make that dream a reality and today is a machinist’s mate (Third Class), who has been making brilliant strides in the United States Navy.
“I have been serving for almost three years, but it feels like 20 because I’ve accomplished so much. I started at the lowest rank in training which is E-1 and because I did so well, physically and academically, I was promoted to E-2 at the end of training. I was attached to the USS O’Kane, which is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (DDG77), for one year, where I was promoted to E-3 then E-4,” the 32-year-old told The Gleaner.
Kerr then got orders to serve on the world’s largest and oldest aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz (CVN68), which he has been attached to for over a year.
He has completed several on-the-job training courses and is the recipient of one Navy and Marine Corp Award.
“I have learnt so much that my chain of command has me supervising and teaching other sailors how to fix our equipment in order to have the ship ready at all times,” he said.
As a machinist’s mate, Kerr helps to ensure the ship arrive safely by maintaining the systems that get the crew in place for the mission.
He told The Gleaner that his job entails fixing AC/refrigeration, fire pumps, galley equipment, ships’ steering gear, aircraft elevators, water heaters, rigid hull inflatable boats, and vertical package conveyors, among other things.
Raised with three sisters in a strict household headed by his mother, Marjorie Johnson, Kerr has fond memories of playing football, cricket, basketball, and marble in Olympic Gardens, St Andrew.
He attained six Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects at Haile Selassie High School, where he was also a member of the football team.
After high school, he applied to Jamaica’s Defence Force and the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
“I completed physical and medical and was awaiting the phone call for training for a couple of years and I never got it. That’s the main reason I took the opportunity to serve in the US Navy – to make my mom’s dream come true – and I don’t regret it one bit. Being able to travel the world by sea is awesome,” he said.
Young Kerr had also received a one-off scholarship to attend Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts to further his skills as a drummer, but only managed to complete one year due to financial constraints.
In 2009, he started working at Adolph Levy & Brothers Limited as a cargo/freight handler and was promoted to supervisor within a year and spent another nine years there.
At age 28, Kerr migrated to the US to join his wife, who is a senior airman in the US Air Force and also a Jamaican native.
His mother was thrilled when he told her that he would be enlisting in the US Navy, and she eagerly waited for training to be completed so that she could lay eyes on her son in the uniform.
He recounted that the hardest part of training was not the physical aspect, as he had prepared himself mentally, but rather being without a cell phone for two months.
The only means of communication was mail, which he looked forward to, but underscored that he was better able to focus on the mission ahead.
“I was deployed for four months in 2021, but was at sea for a total of eight months that year. I spent seven months at sea in 2022. Since I left my home on November 28, 2022 for a seven-month deployment, I’ve been to Hawaii, Guam, Singapore, Djibouti in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Bahrain, Dubai, Germany, South Korea, Thailand, and Japan,” he told The Gleaner.
Coping with the distance from family during deployment was tough in the beginning, but with time, he has learned to adjust.
He rises at 6 a.m., works from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., and then goes to the gym to keep his physical health in check.
“I meet up with other Jamaicans to play dominoes, UNO, cards, cook some Jamaican food, play music and have fun. So it’s like you’re away from family and friends, but not really,” he said with a chuckle.
Kerr has access to Wi-Fi, which he uses to stay in touch with family, but the hotspot is disabled whenever they venture into high-threat areas or when conducting certain missions.
With no regrets about enlisting in the US Navy, he told The Gleaner that he intends to offer 20 years of service.
“The respect that I get when walking off base in any facility or just on the road and hearing people say, ‘Thank you for your service’, makes me feel loved and appreciated,” he said.
He also relishes the perks of priority boarding and no baggage fees when he travels, making his hobby a more enjoyable experience.
Kerr told The Gleaner that he stays true to his Jamaican identity daily by speaking patois, and whenever he cooks, his colleagues get a chance to sample the Jamaican cuisine.
As he moves up the ranks, he hopes to return to Jamaica at least once a year to host an event to benefit the children in his hometown.
“I am willing to help my country in whatever way I can because I remember the struggles I faced growing up,” he said. “I will never forget the land of my birth.”
judana.murphy@gleanerjm.com
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