Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jesse Hawthorne
Photo By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jesse Hawthorne

A Graham native and 2011 Bethel High School graduate is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, USS Greeneville.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Britton works as a electronics technician (nuclear) serving aboard the Pearl Harbor-based submarine, one of 56 fast-attack submarines in the U.S. Navy.

A Navy electronics technician (nuclear) is responsible for maintaining and operating the equipment used to operate the reactor. 

“I grew up as an Army brat so I always had a military mindset,” said Britton. “Now in the Navy, that helps me because I know the importance of falling in line.” 

Jobs are highly varied aboard the submarine. Approximately 130 men and women make up the submarine’s crew, doing everything from handling weapons to maintaining nuclear reactors.

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.

"Our submarine teams are small, elite, and rely heavily on extraordinary individual performance," said Rear Adm. Daryl L. Caudle, commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet. "It is no surprise that our sailors continue to set the standard for excellence, and the country continues to be well served by their service and sacrifice. I couldn't be more proud to lead this professional fighting force."

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. Regardless of their specialty, everyone 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.

Britton also has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.

“My dad was in Army,” said Britton. “Although I am the first in family to join the Navy, my dad did influence my decision to join.”

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 means putting in my time to serve the country,” added Britton.


Kayla Turnbow, is with the Navy Office of Community Outreach