Fernley native serving aboard nuclear-powered submarine in Guam

A 2014 Fernley High School graduate and Fernley native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered fast attack submarines, USS Chicago.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Connell Campbell serves in Guam as part of the Navy’s forward deployed force.

He’s responsible for maintaining the propulsion and power systems as well as the safekeeping of the submarine’s nuclear reactor operation.

“I get to help control a several hundred megawatt reactor and the safest, cleanest source of power humanity has ever created,” said Campbell.

With a crew of 130, this submarine is 360 feet long and weighs approximately 6,900 tons. A nuclear-powered propulsion system helps push the submarine through the water at nearly 30 mph.

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.

“Guam sailors are located at our nation’s most strategically important forward-deployed submarine base, and the missions they conduct at the tip of the spear are incredible,” said Capt. David Schappert, Commander, Submarine Squadron 15. “They are constantly challenged and continually rise to meet and exceed expectations. Guam is the place to be for submariners, and we have the ‘Go Guam!’ initiative to showcase all the great things we do out here.”

According to Navy officials, because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners have 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.

“These sailors continue to impress me with the level of effort and expertise they put into successfully completing their mission day-in and day-out,” Rear Adm. Frederick Roegge, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, said. “Their actions and dedication to service enable the submarine force to excel in the undersea domain.”

“I love the scuba diving and the beaches here in Guam,” said Campbell.

Challenging submarine living conditions actually build strong fellowship among the crew, Campbell explained. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It’s a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

“Serving in the Navy is an honor and privilege,” Campbell added. “I have learned teamwork, overcoming challenges, and to never give up.”


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