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Pahrump graduate serves aboard ballistic missile sub

BANGOR, Washington – A 2004 Pahrump Valley High School graduate and Pahrump 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 3rd Class Andrew White is a machinist’s mate serving aboard the Bangor-based boat, one of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.

A Navy machinist’s mate is responsible for working on mechanical systems for the secondary side of the nuclear plant.

“I like the people I work with because working with a good group of guys means my job is that much better,” White said.

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 daysin port for maintenance.

White 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.

“I enjoy the tight-knit group and brotherhood of the smaller crew,” White said.

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.

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

“Serving in the Navy has been a good opportunity for me to get ahead in my career,” White said.

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