Submariners make up only 10 percent of the U.S. Navy’s personnel, but they play a critical role in carrying out one of the Defense Department’s most important missions: strategic deterrence. Petty Officer 3rd Class Sidney Aaron, a native of Lexington, is one of the sailors continuing a 123-year tradition of service under the sea to help ensure Americans’ safety.
Aaron joined the Navy three years ago and today serves as a sonar technician aboard USS Florida. “I joined the Navy to expand my opportunities after high school,” said Aaron. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do after high school. The Navy gave me options beyond college, and it also gave me time to grow up and gain other experiences. Since joining the Navy I am now looking at a possible career as an officer, and the Navy has offered me other paths beyond submarines.”
Known as America’s “Apex Predators!,” 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.
Guided-missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform.
“Our mission remains timeless—to provide our fellow citizens with nothing less than the very best Navy: fully combat ready at all times, focused on war-fighting excellence, and committed to superior leadership at every single level,” said Adm. Mike Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations.
“The Navy provides deterrence, and the submarine force in particular is important to nuclear detterance,” said Aaron. “We keep other nations from doing anything.”
Aaron and the sailors he serves with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.
“My proudest moment has been earning my ‘dolphins’ or submarine warfare device,” said Aaron. “Earning it was a yearlong process of underway periods that required a lot of physical and mental effort. I’m very proud of that achievement.”
“The Navy is all about establishing a standard within yourself,” added Aaron. “I’m extremely proud to be part of something that is bigger than myself.”