BANGOR, Wash. – A 2010 Cedarcrest High School graduate and Duvall, Washington native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the world’s most advanced ballistic missile submarines, the USS Henry M. Jackson.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Tyler Skelton is an electronics technician serving aboard the Bangor-based boat, one of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
A Navy electronics technician is responsible for ensuring that all electrical equipment and power generators are working properly.
“I like the amount of oversight I have in my role, as well as the sense of importance in what I do,” said Skelton.
Measuring 560 feet long, 42 feet wide and weighing more than 16,500 tons, a nuclear-powered propulsion system helps push the ship through the water at more than 20 knots.
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. They are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles if directed by the President. The Ohio-class design allows the submarines to operate for 15 or more years between major overhauls. On average, the submarines spend 77 days at sea followed by 35 days in port for maintenance.
“Every day I am extremely proud to lead and serve alongside the exceptionally talented men and women of the submarine force,” said Capt. Mark Schmall, commodore of Submarine Squadron 17, of Bangor, Washington. “Our team is filled with dedicated, hardworking and highly qualified professionals who hold uncommon levels of responsibility and accountability in support of our nation’s strategic deterrence mission. Their work ethic, commitment, and enthusiasm are second to none!”
Skelton is part of the boat’s Gold crew, one of the two rotating crews, which allow the ship to be deployed on missions more often without taxing one crew too much. A typical crew on this submarine is approximately 150 officers and enlisted sailors.
“Serving on this sub means that we’re all working together to protect our nation,” said Skelton.
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. The training is highly technical, and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain and repair every system or piece of equipment on board.
Regardless of their specialty, everyone also 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.
“Service in the Navy has afforded me the opportunity to further advance my education and receive on-the-job training,” added Skelton.