Undersea Warfare The Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force

Summer 2004 Cover of Undersea Warfare Magazine

On the Cover


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Summer 2004/Archives

U.S. Submarine... Beacause Stealth Matters


Washington Watch


Operational Depth

Ships At Sea

Letters to the Editor


6th Annual Undersea Warfare Photo Contest Winners

Former Commander-in-Chief Christens PCU Jimmy Carter

Hard-charging and Persistent: The Crew of PCU Virginia Looks Ahead

Pacific Reach 2004
U.S. Foreign Navies Practice Submarine Rescue, Foster Cooperation and Improve Interoperability

SSGN Conversions: Embodying the Sea Power 21 Vision

Heading North!
Traveling the Artic Region, U.S. Submarines Find Adventure, New Challenges, and New Friends

Saviors and Suppliers: World War II Submarine Speacial Operations in the Phillippines

Enhances Stability and Increases Interoperability in the Pacific Rim

Those in Peril - the S-5 Incident

Bringing Science to Life
Teaching Science Using Submarine Technology and the ex-USS Narwhal (SSN-671)

2004 Force Organization Map

Submarine Force Links

Director, Submarine Warfare

Commander, Naval Submarine Forces

Commander, Submarine Force Pacific Fleet

Navy News Stand

Undersea Warfare Photo Contest



Undersea Warfare 2003 CHINFO Merit Award

As the first new submarines designed after the Cold War, the Virginia-class fast-attack boats are intended for battle-space dominance across a broad spectrum of regional and littoral missions, as well as in the open-ocean. Virginia is equipped with sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements, to include the Advanced SEAL Delivery System, state-of-the-art submarine communications and electronic support measures with “Plug and Fight” electronics, new sonar sensors for anti-submarine and mine warfare, and the capability of firing land-attack salvoes of 16 Tomahawks from 12 vertical-launch tubes and four torpedo tubes.
Photo courtesy of General Dynamics

Hard-charging and Persistent: The Crew of PCU Virginia Looks Ahead

by J03 Steven Feller, USN

Anyone familiar with PCU Virginia (SSN-774) and its capabilities would agree that it is a technological marvel. The first of a new class of fast-attack submarines, this model of innovation is the beginning of a new era for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force.

Complementing the impressive machinery and advanced technology within the steel hull is an equally outstanding crew, which has been dedicated to preparing Virginia to join the world’s greatest Navy. As the Virginia’s commissioning date of 23 October fast approaches, the crew is more ready than ever to demonstrate to the world their ship’s breakthrough capabilities and its 7,835 tons of quiet diplomacy.

Welcome Aboard

Like Sailors on other ships, Virginia’s crewmembers come from a variety of backgrounds and had a number of reasons for joining the Navy and the Submarine Force. For MMFN Toros Asadourian and EM3 Joseph Gehring, being a part of the Virginia’s crew offers them a unique welcome to the fleet.

“When I was in ‘A’ and ‘C’ school, I requested orders to come to Virginia,” said Asadourian. “Since I graduated near the top of my class, I was able to choose where I wanted to go, if that choice was available.” In his third week as a Virginia Sailor, the New York City native joins “A” division, where he will work on the submarine’s mechanical systems. “It feels pretty good being a crewmember here,” he said. “No one before us has done anything with the new types of equipment we have aboard.”

Gehring, a nuclear-trained electrician’s mate from Tampa, Florida, echoed Asadourian’s comments about learning to use Virginia’s new technology. “It’s neat training ourselves how to use this equipment. The basic theory is the same, but the technology is new,” he said.

Although there’s a heavy emphasis on meeting Virginia’s commissioning date, Asadourian said he does not feel any pressure to perform at a higher level than would be expected of him anywhere else “There’s a great demand to perform well everywhere,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what command you’re with.”

The Challenge of Middle Leadership

Middle leadership anywhere offers a variety of challenges. It requires balancing the need to be a good leader to junior Sailors with being a good follower of the senior leadership. It takes attentive listening and strong communication skills to translate assigned tasks and missions into coherent directions so that junior Sailors can play their part in accomplishing what’s required. Two Virginia crewmembers who have done that consistently well are EM1(SS) Kevin Garner and ST2(SS) John Parcel. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Parcel has been onboard for two and a half years, and Garner, who hails from Atlanta, Georgia, has been aboard since the beginning. Both are adamant about remaining onboard and seeing Virginia through to her commissioning. As Parcel put it, “It would be terrible to do all this work and not see the reward.”

And Virginia offers many rewards. Before they even put on their Virginia ball caps, Garner and Parcel knew that coming here would be an exciting experience. “I was serving aboard USS West Virginia (SSBN-736) (BLUE), and I was up for orders,” said Garner. “I chose to come here instead of going to shore duty.”

Parcel seized his opportunity after a chance meeting at a San Diego Submarine Ball a few years ago. “At the Submarine Ball, I ran into Vice Admiral [Albert] Konetzni [then Deputy and Chief of Staff, U.S. Atlantic Fleet], and we discussed possible career opportunities in the information technology field. He suggested I go to the Virginia. The next day I called his office, and now here I am,” said Parcel.

Garner said that being a crewmember onboard the first of a new class of submarine presents challenges that others might not face. “We need to make sure our systems are ready to be tested and our divisions ready to train,” he said. “There are a lot of issues to keep in mind, and for this crew, the learning curve is very steep. We’ve had to learn how to use pieces of equipment that weren’t even built yet, and it took a lot of effort to keep people apprised of what was going on.”

Photo caption follows

Virginia Chief of the Boat CMDCM (SS) Casey L. White raises the American flag aboard Virginia for the first time. Virginia will be commissioned later this year in her namesake state.


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