Scottsdale sailor proud to work in Navy

Petty Officer 2nd Class Doug Mielke

Petty Officer 2nd Class Doug Mielke (Submitted photo)

A 2007 Desert Mountain 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.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Doug Mielke is an electrician’s mate on USS Alabama, which is based in Silverdale, about 15 miles west of Seattle across Puget Sound. Electrician’s mates maintain and repair electrical equipment aboard the submarine.

“I like making a difference with my job,” stated Petty Officer 2nd Class Mielke in a press release.

USS Alabama 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, according to the release.

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 Alabama 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, stated the release. 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. Mielke serves on the USS Alabama Gold Crew.

As a sailor with numerous responsibilities, Petty Officer 2nd Class Mielke said he is learning about himself as a leader, sailor and a person, according to the release.

“Serving in the Navy has been an eye-opener,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Mielke, stated in the release. “It has helped me define my values and not take things for granted.”

With approximately 15 officers and 140 enlisted comprising the submarine’s company, jobs are highly varied, according to the release. 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,” stated Rear Adm. Dave Kriete, commander, Submarine Group Nine in Bangor, Wash., stated in the release. “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.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Mielke 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,” stated Petty Officer 2nd Class Mielke, in the release. “They are very supportive and awesome. We are a tight knit family.”

In addition to USS Alabama, 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, stated the release.

Because of the demanding nature of service aboard submarines, sailors like Petty Officer 2nd Class Mielke are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation that can last several months, according to the release. The crews have to be highly motivated, and adapt quickly to changing conditions.

“Knowing that I am making my family proud is the most rewarding part,” stated Petty Officer 2nd Class Mielke.

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.

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

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