Scottsdale native keeps America safe aboard Navy submarine

Spc. Lange (Submitted photo)

Seaman Justin Lange (Submitted photo)

A 2006 Sandra Day O’Connor High School graduate and Scottsdale native is serving aboard one of the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, living and working at a Navy base in Silverdale, Wash.

Seaman Justin Lange is an electronics technician on USS Louisiana, which is based in Silverdale, about 15 miles west of Seattle across Puget Sound. Electronics technicians are responsible for communications and maintenance on computers.

“What I do is very interesting,” said Mr. Lange. “Not very many people get to do it. I like that.”

USS Louisiana is one of the Navy’s 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, also referred to as “boomers”, which patrol the world’s oceans for months at a time, serving as undetectable launch platforms for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Together with land-based missiles and strategic bombers, the Navy’s Ohio-class submarines are part of the nation’s strategic nuclear deterrence triad. Because of their stealth, they are considered the most survivable component of the triad.

Ohio-class submarines like USS Louisiana have a very high operational availability due to an innovative crewing concept. Each submarine has two crews, Blue and Gold, which alternate manning the submarines and taking them on patrol. This maximizes the sub’s strategic availability, reduces the number of submarines required to meet strategic requirements, and allows for proper crew training, readiness, and morale. Mr. Lange serves on the USS Louisiana Gold Crew.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Mr. Lange said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor and a person.

“Being in the Navy has made me a lot more responsible,” said Mr. Lange. “I can handle pressure a lot better and have grown up quite a bit.”

With approximately 15 officers and 140 enlisted comprising the submarine’s company, jobs are highly varied. Each member of the crew plays a role in keeping the submarine’s mission ready — this includes everything from washing dishes and preparing meals to handling weaponry and maintaining the propulsion system.

“We protect and defend America from below the world’s oceans and no other nation can match our capabilities,” said Rear Adm. Dave Kriete, commander, Submarine Group Nine in Bangor, Wash. “Our submarine force could not thrive without the professionalism and skill of our sailors. These men and women, whose mission is often unsung because of its discreet nature, represent the finest characteristics of our nation’s military. Their families, friends, and the entire nation should be extremely proud of what they do every day.”

Mr. Lange said he is proud of the work he is doing as a member of the crew, protecting America on the world’s oceans.

“I like my division,” said Mr. Lange. “They are a good group of guys. We are all dynamic and interesting, but it works.”

In addition to USS Louisiana, seven other Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines are home ported in Kitsap County, Wash., along with three Seawolf-class submarines and two Ohio-class guided missile submarines that are all assigned to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Fast, maneuverable and technically advanced, submarines are some of the most versatile ships in the Navy. They are capable of conducting a variety of missions that can include engaging enemy vessels in the sea, launching missiles at targets on land, providing a platform for SEALS to operate from, and conducting intelligence and surveillance around the world.

Because of the demanding nature of service aboard submarines, sailors like Mr. Lange are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation that can last several months. The crews have to be highly motivated, and adapt quickly to changing conditions.

“The most rewarding part about the work I do is that it gives me a sense of pride,” said Mr. Lange.

The Navy is currently developing a follow-on submarine to replace the Ohio-class, which will begin to reach the end of their service lives in the late 2020s. The Ohio Replacement Ballistic Missile Submarines will remain in service through the 2080s. The Ohio Replacement submarine will continue to fulfill the country’s critical strategic deterrence mission while incorporating cost-effective and reliable systems that are advanced, yet technologically mature.

Editor’s note: Ms. Berassa is the mass communication specialist 1st Class of the Navy Office of Community Outreach

Ms. Berassa is the mass communication specialist 1st Class of the Navy Office of Community Outreach

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