It was a relatively quick stop during Merritt's seven-month deployment, which is her first. It will end in August. The Nassau has been deployed to the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility.
Although Merritt remained aboard the ship while at Haiti, she said during a telephone interview while at sea that it was nevertheless a unique experience.
“It was really neat to see our helicopters and aircrafts go there and help and hear stories of people coming back,” she said.
Merritt is a surface warfare officer on the USS Nassau, where she works in engineering. She controls the auxiliaries department, which makes fresh water, and she controls the ship’s air-conditioning and heating, two small boats used if someone falls overboard and diesel engines that serve as a backup if the ship loses power.
“It is a totally different world,” Merritt said of working on the ship. “You are around your coworkers and get very close with them. This is a large ship with thousands of people on it. There are Marines on it, too.”
It might seem odd, but Merritt said variety is her favorite part of a job that requires her to stay aboard a ship for months at a time.
“Every day has new challenges,” she said.
Merritt said she also appreciates “the worldly impact we have, the ability to travel whether we are providing aid or security. We have so much flexibility around the world. … You can turn around and do a new mission whenever you are called to do one.”
Merritt has wanted to be in the Navy since she was 13. Her mother, Susan Scovill of Richmond, said Merritt joined the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps in about the eighth grade.
“And she really loved it," Scovill said. "It seemed really natural, like the next step was to go into the Navy.”
Merritt attended MU, where she participated in ROTC. Her mother insisted that she finish college before entering the Navy.
“It has been a big dream of mine,” Merritt said. “My family and friends have been supportive, and I want to thank them.”
Merritt’s father, Norman Merritt, lives in Columbia but could not be reached for comment.
Scovill said she supported her daughter by being involved in the Sea Cadets and by helping her complete applications and secure congressional recommendations for the Naval Academy.
Scovill described the Navy as an “incredible career and a wonderful opportunity to serve (the) country.
“I’m really proud of her. … I’m proud that she’s seeing her goal. She works really hard.”
Merritt said she’s thrilled with her job.
“I really love where I am, and I love giving the United States our support,” she said.