Credit: U.S. Navy, 1st Class Amanda R. Gray
Pictured Aug. 2, 2017, the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735) transits the Hood Canal as the boat returns to its homeport at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a strategic deterrent patrol. Pennsylvania is one of eight ballistic-missile submarines stationed at the base.
As of Tuesday, August 21, 2018
SILVERDALE, Wash. – A 2013 Grangeville High School graduate and Grangeville native is presently engaged in a critical mission for the security of the United States: deterring nuclear war.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Kelley, an electrician’s mate, is serving aboard one of the world’s most advanced ballistic missile submarines, USS Pennsylvania. Based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Washington, not far from Seattle, USS Pennsylvania is one of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines in the Navy’s fleet.
As an electrician’s mate, Kelley is responsible for maintaining the electronics equipment onboard the submarine.
“I enjoy being recognized for the difference I make through my efforts every day,” Kelley said. “I enjoy being onboard the submarine, it’s a unique experience.”
Kelley draws from lessons learned growing up in Grangeville.
“My parents instilled a strong work ethic growing up,” Kelley said.
The Navy’s ballistic missile submarines, often referred to informally as “boomers,” serve as undetectable launch platforms for intercontinental ballistic missiles. They are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles, and they are the only survivable leg of the nation’s strategic nuclear forces, which also include land-based missiles and aircraft. The Navy’s continuous at-sea deployment of submarines like USS Pennsylvania provides the ability to mount an assured response.
The Ohio-class submarine fleet is aging, with the oldest submarines now more than 30 years old, well past their planned service lives. The Navy is well into the process of designing and fielding a more advanced ballistic missile submarine, which will provide the necessary sea-based nuclear deterrence into the 2080s and beyond.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Kelley 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.
“Serving to me means knowing I’m protecting the nation,” Kelley said. “My job has a true purpose.”
Kelley is the son of Mark and Debbie Kelley of Grangeville.