BANGOR, WASH. – A 2007 Lincoln County High School graduate and Pioche, Nevada native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the world’s most advanced ballistic missile submarines, the USS Henry M. Jackson.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Geoffrey Davis is an information systems technician (submarine) serving aboard the Bangor-based boat, one of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
A Navy information systems technician is responsible for land security and all trouble logs dealing with computers.
“My job makes me feel like I am contributing to the mission of the submarine,” said Davis.
Measuring 560 feet long, 42 feet wide and weighing more than 16,500 tons, a nuclear-powered propulsion system helps push the ship through the water at more than 20 knots.
The Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, often referred to as “boomers,” serve as a strategic deterrent by providing an undetectable platform for submarine launched ballistic missiles. They are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles if directed by the President. The Ohio-class design allows the submarines to operate for 15 or more years between major overhauls. On average, the submarines spend 77 days at sea followed by 35 days in-port for maintenance.
According to Navy officials, current ballistic missile submarines, commissioned between 1987 and 1997, are reaching their end of life. Leveraging more than 50 years of ballistic missile submarine design and operational experience, the Ohio replacement submarine will be a cost-effective recapitalization of sea-based strategic deterrence. The Ohio replacement also leverages Virginia class submarine capabilities.
Lead Ohio Replacement construction must begin in 2021 in order for the first new submarine to commence its first strategic patrol in 2031, Navy officials explained. Ohio replacement ballistic missile submarines will provide the nation’s survivable nuclear deterrent through the 2080s. The plan includes 12 Ohio replacement submarines, each with 16 TRIDENT II (D5) missiles and a 42-year service life. The 12 Ohio replacement submarines provide the same at-sea presence as 14 original Ohio submarines saving $20B (CY10) over the life of the class.
“Every day I am extremely proud to lead and serve alongside the exceptionally talented men and women of the submarine force,” said Capt. Mark Schmall, commodore of Submarine Squadron 17, of Bangor, Washington. “Our team is filled with dedicated, hardworking, and highly qualified professionals who hold uncommon levels of responsibility and accountability in support of our nation’s strategic deterrence mission. Their work ethic, commitment, and enthusiasm are second to none!”
Davis is part of the boat’s Gold crew, one of the two rotating crews, which allow the ship to be deployed on missions more often without taxing one crew too much. A typical crew on this submarine is approximately 150 officers and enlisted sailors.
“The morale aboard the sub is much higher than my previous command, which I enjoy,” said Davis. “It’s a really great crew to work with.”
A key element of the Navy’s mission is tied to the fact that America is a maritime nation, according to Navy officials, and that the nation’s prosperity is tied to the ability to operate freely on the world’s oceans. More than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface is covered by water; 80 percent of the world’s population lives close to a coast; and 90 percent of all global trade by volume travels by sea.
U.S. strategic deterrence promotes global stability by preventing coercion by threat of nuclear attack, helping prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons, and assuring non-nuclear allies and partners the U.S. will respond if attacked, according to Navy officials. The ballistic missile submarine force is the survivable leg of the U.S. nuclear triad. A survivable deterrent can impose unacceptable consequences even after being attacked. Ballistic missile submarines will be responsible for 70 percent of deployed nuclear warheads under the New START.
Ballistic missile submarines are an effective sea-based strategic deterrent because submarines are undetectable when submerged and provide adequate range to allow operations far from adversaries in broad ocean areas, Navy officials explained. The new submarines are designed with state-of-the-art stealth to remain undetectable into the 2080s.
According to Navy officials, because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical, and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain, and repair every system or piece of equipment on board. Regardless of their specialty, everyone also has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.
Challenging submarine living conditions build strong fellowship among the elite crew, Navy officials explained. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.
“To me, serving in the Navy is my way of supporting my country,” added Davis.