Mountain Home native propels submarine legacy into the future

Photo: Courtesy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brad Gee.

As citizens of Mountain Home go about their daily lives, members of the U.S. Navy’s “Silent Service” work beneath the ocean’s waves. They are continuing a tradition only a small fraction of military members will ever know — strategic deterrence.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Martin hails from Mountain Home and is a 2012 graduate of Mountain Home High School.

Martin is a gunner’s mate stationed at the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, homeport to the Ohio-class ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines. It is assigned to the Naval Submarine Support Center.

Rear Adm. Jeff Jablon, commander, Submarine Group 10, says naval Submarine Base Kings Bay is home to all East Coast Ohio-class submarines. Jablon says Team Kings Bay ensures the crews are combat ready when called upon, putting the submarine forces on scene, unseen.

Martin says he operates, performs, tests, inventories and coordinates organizational and intermediate maintenance on guided missile launching systems, missile launching groups, guns, gun mounts, small arms and associated handling equipment as a gunner’s mate.

Martin credits continued success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Mountain Home.

He says he learned kindness goes a long way with the ability to build and maintain relationships that is part of his small town’s southern hospitality.

Jablon sys the Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs), 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.

Jablon says guided-missile submarines (SSGNs) provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, SSGNs are capable of directly supporting combatant commander’s strike and Special Operations Forces (SOF) requirements. The Navy’s four guided-missile submarines, each displace 18,750 tons submerged. Each SSGN is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus a complement of heavyweight torpedoes to be fired through four torpedo tubes.

The first submarine was invented by Yale graduate David Bushnell in 1775 and provided the colonists with a secret weapon in the form of a one-man wooden craft in an experimental submarine that was nicknamed the Turtle.

Although Bushnell’s efforts were unsuccessful in attempts to blow up British vessels during the American Revolution George Washington said of the Turtle, “I then thought, and still think, that it was an effort of genius.”

U.S. submarines may not be what some have imagined. 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 (23 mph).

Because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing, according to Navy officials. Submariners are some of the most highly-trained and skilled people in the Navy. Regardless of their specialty, everyone 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.

Martin says his proudest moment was the opportunity to launch five test missiles to help with the trident life extension program. It was a really cool experience.

Serving in the Navy means Martin is part of a world that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

A key element of the Navy the nation needs is tied to the fact America is a maritime nation, and 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.

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer says our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes, and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships. Spencer says readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Martin is most proud of qualifying and receiving his Submarine Warfare pin in 2015. He says it is a pretty awesome experience and now he is considered one of the community and a brother, and it shows his reliability and competence under stress.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Martin and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.

Martin says serving in the Navy is nice to be part of something bigger and share the same goal to keep the country safe. He says because of the things they are able to go out and do as a Navy, people are able to lay their head down at night and feel protected.

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