By MC1 James Green, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – A 2007 Greensburg Salem High School graduate and Greensburg, Pa. native is part of a select crew, protecting and defending America aboard the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered attack sub-marine USS Mississippi.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Rice is an electronics technician aboard Mississippi, one of the Virginia-class submarines based at the Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“The best part of working on the sub are the challenges. Each day is its own challenge,” said Rice.
Mississippi, commissioned in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 2012, is longer than a football field at 377 feet and can sail under the waves at more than 30 mph.
Mississippi, like all attack submarines in the Navy’s fleet, can carry out an array of missions on the world’s oceans in defense of America.
“The Navy’s attack submarines are at the forefront of the nation’s war-fighting capabilities,” said Cmdr. Tory Swanson, commanding officer, USS Mississippi. “Our primary missions include hunting enemy submarines and surface ships, launching cruise missiles at enemy targets far inland, and covertly delivering special operations forces to the fight.”
Because of the demanding nature of service aboard submarines, sailors like Rice are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation that can last several months. The crews have to be highly motivated, and adapt quickly to changing conditions.
“I am responsible for instrumentation and equipment that monitor the reactor, which ensures we are operating safely,” said Rice.
In peacetime, our stealth allows us to observe the activities of potential adversaries,” said Swanson. “Nuclear power and the ability to make our own water and oxygen give our submarines unmatched endurance, allowing us to deploy anywhere in the world’s oceans, unseen, and remain there as long as necessary.”
The training is demanding, as the crew needs to be ready to respond to any kind of situation that may arise while at sea and endure long periods of time submerged deep below the surface of the ocean.
“While Mississippi has some of the most advanced technology in the world, submarining remains a people business at the heart,” said Swanson. “Well-trained, well-disciplined professional Sailors are what bring the ship to life. When we go to sea, each of us entrusts our lives to the actions of every other crewmember. This requires an extraordinary amount of trust in each other. Those who wear the gold and silver dolphins signifying ‘qualified in submarines’ have demonstrated that they embody these high standards of personal integrity, accountability and responsibility. Working with people like this is why I became a submariner in the first place.”
The rigorous nature of submarine service is challenging, but Rice enjoys it and believes it makes the crew tighter.
“The best part of being in the Navy is the team dynamic. Each person is here for each other,” said Rice. “I enjoy every aspect of my job. I have a lot of different responsibilities that drive and push me.”
Being an attack submarine sailor has meant spending a lot of time away from his friends and family, but Rice believes in the work he is doing.
“It is rewarding going to sea on a sub because of how close the crew becomes,” said Rice.
USS North Carolina
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – A 2012 South Moreland High School graduate and Scottdale, Pa. native is part of a select crew, protecting and defending America aboard the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered attack submarine USS North Carolina.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathaniel Bryner is a sonar technician submariner aboard North Carolina, one of the Virginia-class submarines based at the Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
“I like the fact that each day I learn something new,” said Bryner.
North Carolina was commissioned in Wilmington, North Carolina in 2008. Like Mississippi, it is also longer than a football field at 377 feet, can sail under the waves at more than 30 mph, and can carry out an array of missions on the world’s oceans in defense of America.
“The North Carolina can deploy to anywhere in the world,” explained Cmdr. Gary Montalvo, commanding officer of North Carolina. “They can execute a multitude of missions from intelligence gathering, surveillance, tracking and hunting enemy submarines, and can even launch cruise missile to engage inland targets hundreds of miles away.”
Because of the demanding nature of service aboard submarines, sailors like Bryner are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation that can last several months. The crews have to be highly motivated, and adapt quickly to changing conditions.
“I am responsible for the safety of the ship while we are underway,” said Bryner.
“The training process to earn the right to wear the gold and silver dolphins, and join the team, requires highly intelligent individuals who are driven and motivated,” said Montalvo. “Each crew member must develop an intimate working knowledge of each system onboard the submarine.”
The demanding training readies them to respond to any situation that may arise while at sea during long periods of time submerged deep below the sea surface.
“We rely heavily on every one of our shipmates to operate our equipment correctly and save the man next to him in the event of a casualty,” said Montavlo. “The Tarheel Boat, the nick-name for the North Carolina, is a formidable asset in the defense of our great nation.”
Bryner also enjoys the rigorous training that brings the crew together.
“I enjoy the financial stability and the career path the Navy has given me,” said Bryner. “I like the responsibility of being the eyes and the ears of the ship. I love the sense of accomplishment and pride I feel when we return from an underway,” said Bryner.
Why Being There Matters
On our planet, more than 70 percent of which is covered by water, being there means having the ability to act from the sea. The Navy is uniquely positioned to be there; the world’s oceans give the Navy the power to protect America’s interests anywhere, and at any time. Your Navy protects and defends America on the world’s oceans. Navy ships, submarines, aircraft and, most importantly, tens of thousands of America’s finest young men and women are deployed around the world doing just that. They are there now. They will be there when we are sleeping tonight. They will be there every Saturday, Sunday and holiday this year. They are there around the clock, far from our shores, defending America at all times.