Story By Lt. Caleb White, Courtesy of Navy Office of Community Outreach

KINGS BAY, Ga. – A 2011 MacArthur High School graduate and Lawton, Okla. native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of a crew working aboard one of the world’s most advanced guided missile submarines, the USS Georgia (SSGN 729).

Culinary Specialist Seaman Dylan Russell is a junior cook serving aboard the Kings Bay-based boat, one of four Ohio-class guided missile submarines. 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 guided missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Armed with tactical missiles and equipped with superior communications capabilities, guided missile submarines are capable of launching missile strikes and supporting Special Operation Forces missions.

“We demand the highest standards from Russell, technically and personally,” said Rear Admiral Charles A. Richard, commander, Submarine Group Ten in Kings Bay, Ga. “His Commanding Officer, his country, and I take great pride in his willingness to raise his hand and volunteer to serve the nation. The importance of our Sailors is immeasurable; people like Russell are crucial to ensuring our submarines are operating at their best and the mission is flawlessly executed. I’m so very proud he is on our team.”

Culinary Specialist Seaman Dylan Russell 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.

Because of the stressful 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. 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.

“I have learned a lot about cooking. I have learned more things here than I knew before I joined. I have also gained much more self discipline being in the military,” Russell said.

Although it is difficult for most people to imagine living on a submarine, challenging submarine living conditions actually build strong fellowship among the crew. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

“Joining the Navy gave me the opportunity to go back to school. I have also had the chance to see Ireland, Kuwait and Romania,” Russell added.

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied upon assets, Russell and other USS Georgia (SSGN 729) sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes.