Former Watertown man serving on a USS destroyer gets national attention

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Jun. 1—WATERTOWN — City Attorney Robert J. Slye knew very little about what his son was recently doing in the Western Pacific and South China seas as the second in command on a U.S. Navy destroyer until he read about it in the national news.

His son, Cmdr. Executive Officer Richard "Rick" Slye, was serving on a destroyer, the USS Mustin, when it got some national attention in April.

The USS Mustin and its crew were monitoring a group of Chinese war ships while they were conducting exercises for three weeks in the southern half of the South China and Philippine seas and shadowed a Chinese aircraft carrier, the Liaoning.

But the Chinese government complained that the USS Mustin came too close during a reconnaissance of the Liaoning and disrupted the naval exercises. The situation between the USS Navy destroyer and the Chinese aircraft carrier group made national headlines in Newsweek magazine, on CNN's website and national Taiwanese and Chinese publications.

That's when Mr. Slye learned more about what his son, a 2005 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and 2001 graduate of Watertown High School, had just experienced on the Mustin, which has a crew of 290 sailors and 40 officers. His son is the second in command on the Navy ship.

"He wouldn't mention anything about it and we wouldn't talk about it," Mr. Slye said.

A photo of him and his commander while the Mustin was shadowing the Chinese ship also appeared in national publications.

The Mustin was among the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group that was keeping close watch of the Chinese naval exercises. The incident comes at a time when U.S. and Chinese relations have become a bit more ornery in recent months. It's also considered the first time that American and Chinese carriers might have been together in that sea at the same time.

Previously, his son was assigned to the Pentagon on two occasions and attended the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, R.I., before serving on the Mustin.

Mr. Slye said his son was proud that the destroyer and its crew received national attention, but wouldn't consider it a personal accomplishment, saying that they were "all doing the same job."

But his father acknowledged how proud he is of his son and what he's accomplished in the Navy.

Executive Officer Rick Slye comes from a line of relatives who served in the Navy. Both grandfathers were Navy sailors, his father served in the Coast Guard, his uncle flew the P-3 Orion, and a younger brother also serves on active duty.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting