PEARL HARBOR – Modern attack submarines are the most technologically advanced and capable undersea warfighters in the world. Operating these highly complex submarines require sailors from the U.S. Navy’s submarine community, also known as the ‘Silent Service.’
Petty Officer 2nd Class Austin Prince, a 2010 Chesapeake High School graduate and native of Severna Park, has served for three years and works as a Navy machinist's mate. Prince serves aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, USS Illinois, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
As a Navy machinist's mate, Prince will operate, maintain and repair damage control equipment and systems, internal combustion diesel engines and diesel engine support systems, hydraulic systems, atmosphere control and oxygen-generating equipment, refrigeration systems, compressed air and gas systems, potable water system, seawater systems, and sanitary and plumbing systems.
Prince credits his service in the Navy to the many lessons he learned in Severna Park.
“My parents always stressed that I should put in a hard day's work,” said Prince. “This job can pull it out of you so having that already instilled in me has been helpful.”
Jobs are highly varied aboard the submarine. Approximately 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.
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. 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.
Though there are many ways individuals can serve their communities and country, Prince considers his naval service as his biggest accomplishment.
“Pride runs deep on these submarines; in the surface fleet, there are tons of different rates, but on a submarine there are fewer, which leads to a tight-knit community,” said Prince. “I couldn’t be more proud than to serve my country with this team of warriors.”
Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Prince is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.
“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.”
The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades. The Pacific is home to more than 50% of the world's population, many of the world's largest and smallest economies, several of the world's largest militaries and many U.S. allies.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Prince and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“I always liked the idea of being in a smaller community and the submarine force provided that for me,” said Prince. “I am so proud to put on the uniform everyday, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunities I have been given and the many friends I have gained during my service."