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    An Italian Blend to U.S. Navy Life

    Oleoresin Capsicum Course

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Kegan Kay | 190315-N-OX321-0196 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Mar. 15, 2019) Lt. j.g. Gianluca Perino, an...... read more read more



    Story by Petty Officer 1st Class Kegan Kay 

    USS Bataan (LHD 5)

    The fragrant smell of rich Italian coffee permeates the air inside the amphibious assault ship, USS Bataan’s (LHD 5), bridge. The scent is as faithful as the chimes of a clock indicating the time. It marks 2:30 p.m. and Italian Naval Officer, Sottoenente Di Vascello (Lieutenant Junior Grade) Gianluca Perino, 25, has just made some fresh espresso for Bataan’s Navigation Department.

    Lt. j. g. Perino is attached to Bataan as part of the Navy's Personnel Exchange Program (PEP) which lets selected service members make a one-for-one exchange with personnel from another military or foreign service.

    Perino explained that U.S. Navy sends out a message letting members know what positions are available aboard U.S. naval vessels for allied forces to apply. As his case, assistant navigator aboard the Bataan .
    “I applied and I was lucky that they chose me,” Perino laughs. “For us, it is a good opportunity for our career and also for our spirits. We get to learn a language, get in touch with another culture and some say [the U.S. Navy] is the best navy in the world, I couldn’t miss that opportunity.”

    PEP’s objective is to integrate participants into the host organization as though they belonged to the service to which they become assigned and to share professional knowledge with members from other services and nations.

    “We as a professional naval service have specific processes and methods of executing our mission as professional mariners,” remarks Bataan’s Navigation Officer, Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Paiz, regarding Perino’s time aboard the ship so far. “He brings a fresh and different perspective on how his country conducts a lot of the same tasks at sea which allows us to improve upon our process and understand how some of our partner nations and allies operate at sea.”

    Perino while born in Genoa, Italy, was raised in La Spezia, a city with a population of around ninety-four thousand, located on the Ligurian Sea, midway between Genoa and Pisa.

    When describing his home town, he relates it to being similar to Norfolk as it also hosts a naval base and is broken down by districts such as Cinque Terre, which he relates to being the Norfolk Ghent area of La Spezia.

    His career began in 2012, at the Italian Air Force Military School, Giulio Douhet, in Florence. He graduated a with a high school Scientific degree and then attended the Italian Naval Academy in Leghorn, Italy from 2012 to 2016.

    During his time at the Italian Naval Academy, Perino participated in the midshipmen summer exchange and spent a month and half aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), while she was stationed in Rota, Spain.

    Perino laughingly tells how during that month and half, he gained twenty to twenty-five pounds, because of the great ship food, and he worried when coming to Bataan that the same thing would happen. He was slightly disappointed as he actually lost weight since being aboard the ship.

    Most of Perino’s time aboard has been inport while the ship was undergoing a scheduled maintenance availability, he has still had the opportunity to see new events.

    Bataan recently completed a month underway for sea trials providing opportunities for Perino to experiencing life at sea aboard a U.S. ship. He chuckled stating that underways are all the same no matter which navy you are in and that he is use to life at sea.

    “I have a great opportunity to see a lot of stuff and this is really interesting to me,” clarifies Perino. “I’ve never seen a helicopter operation before, so when I first saw it, I was amazed. It was really outstanding.”

    While discussing his experiences aboard Bataan, he rates qualifying as security reaction force member getting Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) sprayed as his most unique experience so far as that it is not something they do in the Italian Navy.

    “At first it wasn’t so pleasurable, but after a few minutes I started having fun,” Perino once again laughing. “And yeah it was worth it. I really liked enjoying it and having fun with other people.”

    While this is not a typical reaction most people have to being OC sprayed, unique moments with Perino are numerous and everyone has a story.

    Paiz was all too eager to share his favorite moments with Perino so far, boasting of Perino’s skills as a mariner in the process; “He dropped the anchor within six yards of the plotted anchorage during our first Basic Phase Underway and earned the moniker ‘The Italian Stallion,” and my second favorite was when he dropped it within twenty yards of the plotted anchorage in front of ATG (Afloat Training Group). Their jaws literally hit the deck.”

    This is a remarkable feat for any mariner as the variables surrounding the ability to drop the ship’s anchor on the intended spot are numerous. Perino had to take into account, the ocean’s currents, wave size, wind direction and speed, the crew, timing, and most importantly himself.

    “You would think the navy is the navy regardless of what country you’re in,” explains Senior Chief Quartermaster Charles Pugel, Bataan’s navigation departmental leading chief petty officer. “Navigation is Navigation, but the nuances of how differently we do things, its fun to sit down and have those conversations, not just showing Mr. Perino how we do things, but listening and learning from his, gives a new perspective on the different ways you can complete the same tasks.”

    The dominate part of Perino’s personality is his jovial nature and his focus on interpersonal relationships, especially with those around him which is further highlighted when asked about what he would tell people back home of his time aboard Bataan.

    “I would not talk about the ship, I would talk about the people because I’ve really been accepted here,” grins Perino. “I really appreciate that. That’s my important thing, to be integrated and accepted into the group as one of them. It is really important, because it is not so easy to be far from home and to have people not like you and not want you here. I love helping people and interacting with people and the people here are always smiling and have hundred percent energy. They are always positive, so it is a really nice environment that I like to work in.”

    This love of his co-workers and department aboard the ship is easily seen in his day-to-day interactions with people aboard the ship and the special care he shows his department.
    “Relationships are important in Italy, so with the hectic schedule he decided he was going to get an espresso maker and every day around 2:30 p.m. he'll brew up some espresso and share with the division,” stated Pugel. “Even if only for five minutes, you can tell the shop enjoys the break.”

    “Feel free to come up to the bridge whenever you want to have a cup of Italian coffee,” Perino laughingly invites. “I would really appreciate that.”



    Date Taken: 04.25.2019
    Date Posted: 04.29.2019 09:12
    Story ID: 319374
    Location: NORFOLK, VA, US 

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    An Italian Blend to U.S. Navy Life