Photo Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class David Finley
By Lt. Courtney Prizer, Navy Office of Community Outreach
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 3rd Class Daniel Cullen, a 2009 Roxbury High School graduate, 2013 County College of Morris graduate and native of Succasunna, New Jersey, works as a Navy electronics technician (submarine) serving aboard USS Chicago, one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Cullen credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Succasunna.
“My friends and family back home kept me out of trouble, which is no small feat,” said Cullen.
As a Navy electronics technician (submarine), Cullen is responsible for operating and maintaining various equipment on board submarines, providing the ship with valuable intelligence information and access to external communications.
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 for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, Cullen is most proud of earning the Enlisted Submarine Warfare Specialist qualification.
“This is the pivotal point of a submariner’s career,” said Cullen. “It means being recognized as a full member of the crew.”
Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Cullen 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 percent 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.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Cullen, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Cullen is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“My grandfather served in the Army during the Korean War,” said Cullen.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Cullen 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’ve always wanted to do something unique that few people get to do,” added Cullen. “Although it has its ups and downs, I feel that serving on board submarines has provided me with a great experience.”