Published in the August 9, 2018 edition

ROTA, Spain – A 2010 North Reading High School graduate and North Reading native is serving the country in the U.S. Navy, living on the coast of Spain, and participating in a critical NATO Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) mission while assigned to the guided-missile destroyer USS Ross.  

Lt. j.g. Nicholas McGrath is an electrical officer aboard one of the four advanced warships forward-deployed to Rota, Spain, a small village on the country’s southwest coast 65 miles south of the city of Seville.

A Navy electrical officer is responsible for managing the electrical safety program as well as overseeing the ‘E’ division, which consists of all the electricians onboard.

McGrath credits his success in the Navy with the lessons he learned growing up in North Reading.

LT. J.G. Nicholas McGrath is an electrical officer aboard one of the four advanced warships forward-deployed to Rota, Spain. (Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Rae Moreno)

“I learned perseverance from high school sports in my hometown,” said McGrath. “All you have to do is keep moving forward and everything will fall into place.”

These four destroyers are forward-deployed in Rota to fulfill the phased commitment to NATO BMD by the Unite States while also carrying out a wide range of missions to support the security of Europe.

The ship is named after Capt. Donald Kirby Ross who was presented a Medal of Honor by Adm. Chester Nimitz for his actions during the attack on Pearl Harbor.

“I’m proud to lead such a dedicated, experienced, resilient and mission-oriented crew,” said Cmdr. Bryan S. Gallo, commanding officer of the USS Ross. “Team Ross always meets the mission while taking care of each other and having a fun time doing it.”

Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for McGrath, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. McGrath is honored to carry on that family tradition.

“My grandpa was in the Army Air Corps during WWII,” said McGrath. “I knew I wanted to join since I was five, but I didn’t know what branch until after college and the Navy had the best opportunities. I do not regret my decision at all.”

While serving in the Navy may present many challenges, McGrath has found many great rewards. McGrath is proud of earning his officer-of-the-deck qualification and earning the surface warfare officer device while onboard Ross.

Unique experiences build strong fellowship among the crew of more than 300 women and men aboard the USS Ross. Their hard work and professionalism are a testament to the namesake’s dedication and the ship’s motto, “Fortune Favors Valor.” The crew is motivated, and can quickly adapt to changing conditions, according to Navy officials. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills. Serving aboard a guided-missile destroyer instills accountability and toughness while also fostering initiative and integrity.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, McGrath and other Ross sailors know they are a part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes by providing the Navy that the nation needs.

“Not a lot of people my age get the chance to have a leadership role. It’s going to set me up for success in and out of the Navy,” said McGrath. “Living in Spain is a fantastic cultural experience. The mission has been very fulfilling, the port visits and getting to travel all over Europe is great. I think I’ve been to 13 different countries now.” 

Lt. j.g. McGrath is the son of Ed and Lori McGrath of North Reading.