Meet the first Fil-Am to take command of US aircraft carrier

by Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Aug 29 2014 06:12 PM | Updated as of Sep 01 2014 07:56 PM

NEWPORT NEWS - Captain Ronald Ravelo is the first Filipino American to take command of US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

"We only got 10 of these capital ships of the United States Navy, so I think just to be honored and to have been selected and command it, that in itself is the point to apply," he said.

Ravelo says he owes his success to his father Ben Ravelo, a retired US Navy chief.

Back in the day, he says, a glass ceiling limits Filipinos from achieving what he has achieved today.

"I kinda feel that through his sacrifice and the sacrifice of serving the captain of the ship, he's allowed me to become the captain of the ship and most definitely for other future Americans of Filipino descent that come up behind me," he said.

Born in Okinawa, Japan and raised in San Diego, California, Ravelo earned a Bachelor's degree in industrial and systems engineering at the University of Southern California.

He says he only wanted to become a pilot but he ended up commanding a carrier with a crew of 2,600, considered one of the most demanding and challenging but rewarding jobs in the Navy.

"I just wanted to become a pilot and from there it was the next qualification, so just remaining hungry, remaining dedicated and working really hard that's really what it takes to get to my level, in any level," he said.

Ravelo's tour of duty includes Operation Enduring Freedom Philippines, a joint US-Philippines military operation that targeted Communist insurgents and Islamic terrorist groups in the Philippines in the mid-2000s.

"With respect to working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, I really developed a keen awareness and appreciation for how dedicated they are and how sharp and how well of a force they are," he said.

Ravelo declined to comment on the geo-political situation, but he has this to say about the recent US Navy ships acquired by the Philippine government from the US.

"A military force is only as good as the people that are members of that force. My advice is whatever the ability the force has, just be very proficient and exceptional in operating that equipment... With respect to the ships (Philippine Navy ships) what I do know about them, I think they really would behoove sailors on board that ship to really understand the ins and outs of their particular weapons," he said.

The USS Abraham Lincoln is currently being repaired at the Newport News shipbuilding facility in Virginia.

The carrier is scheduled to set sail in 2017, under the command of Captain Ravelo.