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Cabarrus Magazine

Harrisburg Native is Serving in the U.S. Navy Aboard One of the World’s Most Advanced Nuclear-Powered Submarines

Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Hoskins

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Erica R. Gardner, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A Harrisburg, North Carolina, native and 2008 Central Cabarrus High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, USS San Juan. 

The submarine recently returned home after a deployment where they served as ambassadors during port visits to Falsane, Scotland and Rota, Spain. 

“The deployment was long and interesting although this is my second deployment,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Turner. 

Turner works as a machinist’s mate serving aboard the Groton-based submarine in the U.S. Navy. 

A Navy machinist’s mate is responsible for working on mechanical systems in the propulsion plant and managing the chemistry elements. 

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. 

“The U.S. Navy submarine force has one of the highest operational tempos in the U.S. Navy and Naval Submarine Support Center, New London plays a vital role in helping Groton-based submarines maintain their excellent readiness,” said Cmdr. Brian J. Nowak, Commanding Officer, Naval Submarine Support Center, New London. “The warfighters operating the submarines at the tip of the spear, and those who are building the Navy’s newest nuclear powered submarines can only do so because of the vast network of support they receive from the shore side. The professional sailors and civilians at Naval Submarine Support Center, New London serve a key role in that network. I am honored that I get to serve every day with outstanding sailors.” 

According to Navy officials, 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. 

Becoming a submariner is an accomplishment in itself. Turner is also proud of receiving a Navy Achievement Medal in 2016 for participating in an overseas movement and a Meritorious Unit Commendation in 2016 for service that is performed with character that would be comparable to the Bronze Star for working in the European area of operations. 

Given the unique operating environment, members of the Submarine community build strong fellowship among the elite crew, Navy officials explained. The crews are highly motivated and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches and drills. 

“Serving in the Navy is a job to ensure I can support my family,” added Turner.

All content courtesy of the 
Navy Office of Community Outreach press release.

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