SOUTH CHINA SEA –
Gas turbine systems technicians in the U.S. Navy maintain the engines, lube oils and fuel that keeps the Navy moving.
Gas Turbine Systems Technician (Mechanical)(GSM) 3rd Class Mackenzie Mattox is an engineer aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62). Her shipmates know to find her in a bright purple jersey with “Oil Queen” stenciled in black letters, often refueling helicopters and testing the ship’s lube oil.
Before the Navy, Maddox grew up in Middletown, Ohio, where she graduated from Middletown High School in 2016. Mattox, whose sister is in the Marines, said she joined for the opportunity to see different parts of the world.
“There were so many paths I could have taken, but I’m grateful for the one I chose,” Mattox said. “When I went to [Military Entrance Processing Station], my career counselor named [GSM] first, actually, out of all the others I was eligible for. After she explained what it involved, it sounded like something I would like.”
Mattox said that since she is from a small town in Ohio, the Navy has helped her grow tremendously.
“I don’t think I ever would have gone out of the country if it wasn’t for the Navy,” Mattox said. “I wouldn’t have seen or experienced anything I have already seen if I didn’t join.”
Mattox arrived aboard Chancellorsville in November 2016 as the ship was moving into a dry dock period. She said she liked being able to see the propellers and what the bottom of the ship looked like.
Mattox said her job is different every day. Because it pertains to anything to do with fuel, and she is the only female GSM aboard Chancellorsville, she was given the nickname “Oil Queen.”
“We have a watch station called the ‘Oil King,’ where we test fuel,” Mattox said. “It’s written in the instruction as ‘Oil King’ but everyone jokes around that I’m the “Oil Queen.”
GSMs test all the fuel aboard their ships. They have a chemistry lab where they test fuel to make sure there are no discrepancies in the fuel. They maintain logs that include how much fuel is onboard, the ship’s liquid load and the ship’s fuel weight and balance to know where the fuel is on the ship and where it is going.
Ensign Julianne Dahlman, the repair officer onboard Chancellorsville, said she had the pleasure of being Mattox’s supervisor when she was temporarily assigned to her work center, engineering repair 09, for six months.
“As one of five female Sailors in the engineering department, and one of my former damage control petty officers, GSM3 Mattox has impressed me since day one,” Dahlman said. “She is a hard worker and the fastest rising ‘Oil Queen’ since the homeport shift from San Diego to Yokosuka. I am looking forward to her clear and bright future in the Navy.”
Mattox said she enjoys being the “Oil Queen” and having the opportunity to have a direct influence on successful naval operations.
“I’m proud of my rate because the ship can’t move without me; the helicopters can’t fly without me,” Mattox said. “It feels good knowing that what you’re doing is making a difference.”
Chancellorsville is forward-deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet website.