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Fox Valley Native Serves Aboard One Of World’s Most Advanced Nuclear Submarine

By Megan Brown, Navy Office of Community Outreach

A Fox Valley native is serving aboard USS Alaska, one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Ezekiel Ochoa, a 2019 East Aurora High School graduate, joined the Navy two years ago.

“I joined the Navy specifically because my high school had a JROTC for the Navy, but mostly because I knew it provided stability and security,” said Ochoa.

Today, Ochoa serves as a machinist’s mate, whose responsibilities include being a mechanic for all the propulsion systems and caring for those components.

“I am also knowledgeable in relation to other nuke jobs,” added Ochoa.

According to Ochoa, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Aurora.

“Growing up I learned that greatness can come from humble beginnings,” said Ochoa. “It doesn’t matter who you are or what your background is, if you stay driven by what you are passionate about you are capable of more than you think.”

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, Ochoa 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.

Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alaska

Serving in the Navy means Ochoa 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 with nuclear deterrence, free and open seas and protecting the freedoms of those back home,” said Ochoa.

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 Ochoa 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 that I get to give back,” added Ochoa. “There are lots of things we take for granted and freedoms that most people don’t think about. If it weren’t for this country and the mission of the Navy and other branches, I wouldn’t have this opportunity to influence and be a part of the direction of this country.”

(Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Rae Moreno)

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