Carson City sailor Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Stephenson maintains undersea rescue mission readiness
October 7, 2018
SAN DIEGO — A 2007 Carson High School graduate and Carson City native is serving aboard the U.S. Navy's only capable Undersea Rescue Command at Submarine Squadron 11.
Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Stephenson is a Navy operations officer serving with URC.
A Navy operations officer is responsible for coordinating day-to-day operations and schedules in support of URC's mission to provide undersea rescue in a timely manner.
"I enjoy the opportunity to travel and conduct exercises with foreign navies," said Stephenson.
Stephenson credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Carson City.
"I've always had a curious personality," said Stephenson. "I value, and have always asked questions to know why things happen and exist."
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Submarine Squadron 11 is home to the floating auxiliary dry dock USS Arco (ARDM 5) and Undersea Rescue Command. The squadron staff is responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support for all units. Arco is under the operational control of Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet (SUBPAC).
Submarine Squadron 11, commanded by Capt. Christopher Cavanaugh, also consists of five of the most capable fast-attack nuclear-powered submarines in the world; USS Pasadena, USS Alexandria, USS Scranton, USS Annapolis, and USS Hampton and are maintained by Arco.
"We go where others can't" is the motto of SUBPAC and is perhaps one-of-the-most difficult and demanding assignments in the Navy. According to Navy officials, there's not an instant during their tour as a submariner they can escape the grasp of responsibility thousands of feet below the ocean's surface.
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy's most relied upon assets, Stephenson and other sailors know they're part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
Early November 2017, the URC received the call to mobilize its submarine rescue unit. For the first time in more than 15 years sailors were quickly loading equipment and systems on to military aircraft within 24 hours for a real-life rescue mission off the coast of Argentina where the ARA San Juan had lost contact.
The command constantly trains, both in the U.S. and with foreign navies to be ready for what's a rare occurrence, the need to perform an undersea rescue, the Navy reports. URC conducts its mission using deep submergence systems including a remotely operated underwater vehicle, submarine rescue chamber, pressurized rescue module and side scan sonar.
Submariners and their crews remain the tip of the undersea spear and supporting them is SUBPAC's primary mission and is essential to keep submarines and crew ready, effectively employed, and equipped with the best possible tools and enabling capabilities. This work is to maintain U.S. undersea superiority. The Force is truly "forged by the sea."
The legacy of the Pacific Submarine Force, established in World War II, continues today. Armed with the finest ships in the world, manned by the most professional sailors, the Pacific Submarine Force will continue to ensure America's critical access to the world's ocean trade routes, provide credible defense against any hostile maritime forces, and project power from the sea to the shore when needed.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Stephenson, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Stephenson is honored to carry on that family tradition.
"My father served in the Army during the Vietnam War," said Stephenson.
Stephenson's proudest accomplishment was serving onboard USS Albuquerque as a junior officer and completing one U.S. Central Command deployment as an assistant operations officer.
As a member of the U.S. Navy's silent service, Stephenson and other URC sailors know they're a part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes providing the Navy the nation needs.
"It's a very unique Navy command here. It has provided me the opportunity to take part in a lot of problem solving," said Stephenson. "It's an opportunity to wear the uniform and serve and protect the interests of the U.S. both here and around the world."