normal for a ballistic missile submarine to take time out of its
patrol assignments for training and education. It’s rare,
though, when that training is for the Navy’s future officers.
total of over 200 midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy
and the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) went
onboard USS Nebraska (SSBN-739), a Trident II
ballistic-missile submarine, during a series of orientation cruises.
This was part of their Summer Service Orientation Program, where
midshipmen visit a variety of commands, including air, surface,
and Marine Corps units.
is an excellent way for midshipmen and NROTC students to experience
submarine operations,” said CDR Christian N. Haugen, Nebraska’s
Commanding Officer. “It helped me decide on becoming a part
of the submarine community when I was a midshipman,” added
Haugen, 42, a native of Northfield, Minnesota and a 1984 graduate
of the Naval Academy.
seas on a tugboat, succeeding groups of midshipmen transferred onboard
Nebraska from the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base. Some
of the mids were surprised by their first impressions of life onboard
a ballistic missile submarine.
try to make the standard of living aboard submarines a lot higher,”
said MIDN Jessica M. Graham, 21, a native of Winston-Salem, North
One aspect of
life aboard a submarine that caught the midshipmen off guard was
their sleeping quarters. Each nine-man berthing unit on Nebraska
is nestled among the 24 missile tubes. “Sleeping next to the
largest firepower ever built is quite amazing,” said MIDN
James H. Bond, 22, a native of Orlando, Florida.
blows your mind when you think that you are hundreds of feet below
the water, sleeping between missile tubes,” added MIDN Graham.
“The responsibility that comes with being a part of such a
force is very exciting and very scary at the same time.”
experience showed the midshipmen some of the unique challenges faced
by the submarine community. The moment they stepped onboard, they
received an intensive indoctrination on the layout of the ship and
key safety issues. Subsequently, to help them gain a real appreciation
of the operational significance of the “Boomer” force,
the midshipmen and NROTC students observed every aspect of the ship’s
operations, from propulsion to weapons.
is our chance to show them what we do in the submarine community,”
said EMCM(SS) Michael P. Stefurak, 42, Nebraska’s
Chief of the Boat. “This isn’t something we get to do
very often. The moment the midshipmen come aboard, they immediately
become a part of the ship’s crew,” he added. “We
open all aspects of the boat to them, so they can choose to engage
in as many activities as they want.”
CDR Haugen challenged
the midshipmen to focus on Nebraska’s Sailors for
the two days they would be onboard. “I want you to watch and
listen to our Sailors,” he said. “They are the ones
you’ll be leading in the future.”