Olympia Native Serves as a Member of U.S. Navy’s ‘Silent Service’


Submitted by Megan Brown for Navy Office of Community Outreach

An Olympia, Washington, native is serving aboard USS Alaska, one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines.

US Navy neely-nicholas
Nicholas Neely. Photo courtesy: Navy Office of Community Outreach

Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicholas Neely, a 2014 North Thurston High School graduate, joined the Navy four and a half years ago.

“I knew I wanted to go into the military because I enjoy teamwork,” said Neely. “I played a lot of sports growing up, and I wanted to do something with a similar structure and energy for my career. I specifically picked the submarine force because of how close everyone works together. It’s basically a family.”

Today, Neely serves as an electronics technician navigation, whose responsibilities include safe navigation of the ship while on deployment.

“I am responsible for all of the navigation equipment like radars and working on large circuits,” said Neely.

Known as America’s “Silent Service,” the Navy’s submarine force operates a large fleet of technically advanced vessels. These submarines are capable of conducting rapid defensive and offensive operations around the world, in furtherance of U.S. national security.

There are three basic types of submarines: fast-attack submarines (SSN), ballistic-missile submarines (SSBN) and guided-missile submarines (SSGN).

Fast-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; conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions; and engage in mine warfare.

The Navy’s ballistic-missile submarines, often referred to as “boomers,” serve as a strategic deterrent by providing an undetectable platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles. SSBNs are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles.

Guided-missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Each SSGN is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus a complement of heavyweight torpedoes to be fired through four torpedo tubes. As a member of the submarine force, Neely is part of a rich 121-year history of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile weapons platform, capable of taking the fight to the enemy in the defense of America and its allies.

Serving in the Navy means Neely is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

“The Navy contributes to national security just by being out in the world,” said Neely. “We show other countries what we do, and that we are there for the good. Submarines are not seen but we are there every day doing our mission.”

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through underwater fiber optic, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy. A major component of that maritime security is homeported at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

“We do two big things here in King’s Bay: we send SSBNs on Strategic Deterrence Patrols and we forward deploy our guided missile submarines overseas,” said Rear Adm. John Spencer, Commander, Submarine Group Ten. “This work is essential to uphold the number one mission of the Navy: strategic deterrence. And this is the only home port for both of these types of submarines on the East Coast.”

Strategic deterrence is the Nation’s ultimate insurance program, and for decades, Kings Bay has been home to Ohio Class SSBN ballistic-missile submarines. Beginning in 2028, the new Columbia Class ballistic-missile submarines will arrive and provide continuous sea-based strategic deterrence into the 2080s.

As Neely and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions they are tasked with, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the Navy means being able to contribute to something greater than myself,” added Neely. “There are all these awesome things we get from our country, and I am just giving a piece of my time for all the good I’ve received.”

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