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Lower Dauphin graduate serving on nuclear-powered submarine

Posted 11/6/19

SANTA RITA, Guam — A 1997 Lower Dauphin High School graduate and Hummelstown native is serving with the U.S. Navy assigned to a forward-deployed submarine squadron overseeing some of the …

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Lower Dauphin graduate serving on nuclear-powered submarine

Posted

SANTA RITA, Guam — A 1997 Lower Dauphin High School graduate and Hummelstown native is serving with the U.S. Navy assigned to a forward-deployed submarine squadron overseeing some of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines.

Chief Petty Officer Thomas Huebner is a fire control technician with Submarine Squadron 15 in Guam.

A Navy fire control technician is responsible for computer and electro-mechanical systems.

Huebner credits his success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Hummelstown.

“Earning my Eagle Scout rank with Troop 74 taught me organization, time management, leadership, and many other lessons and skills that I have leaned on through my career,” Huebner said.

Jobs are highly varied aboard the submarine. About 130 sailors make up the submarine’s crew, doing everything from handling weapons to maintaining nuclear reactors. Attack submarines are designed to hunt down and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; strike targets ashore with cruise missiles; carry and deliver Navy SEALs; carry out intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare. Their primary tactical advantage is stealth, operating undetected under the sea for long periods of time.

“As the only forward-deployed submarine squadron, we are the quick reaction force for the Navy. We can respond quickly to any crisis,” said Capt. Tim Poe, commodore, Submarine Squadron 15. “It's spectacular the work our sailors do. We ask a lot of them and they always meet the challenge.”

According to Navy officials, because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. That makes submariners some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy, officials say.

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.

“It's very rewarding to be in the thick of geopolitical situations," Huebner said. "We make the mission happen and are successful with limited resources. We are the tip of the spear.”

According to officials at the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet headquarters in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the ships, submarines, aircraft and Navy personnel forward-deployed to Guam are part of the world’s largest fleet command and serve in a region critical to U.S. national security. The U.S. Pacific Fleet encompasses 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean. There are more than 200 ships and submarines, nearly 1,200 aircraft, and more than 130,000 uniformed and civilian personnel serving in the Pacific.

There are many ways for sailors to earn distinction.

“I am proud of completing missions vital to national security,” Huebner said. “I am proud of seeing my sailors succeed. And I am proud of keeping boats at sea and able to complete all missions.”

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.

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

Added Huebner: “Serving in the Navy means I am protecting my nation, my family, our allies, and partner nations around the world. It means serving for a better future and the continuation of our heritage.”