Lansing Native Serves on Nuclear Submarine

Overley said he is proud to belong to Navy’s ‘silent service’

A Lansing man serving aboard at a U.S. nuclear attack submarine in Hawaii said values he acquired growing up in the Capital City helped him succeed in the Navy’s “silent service,” as the submarine fleet is called.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Simeon Overley is stationed aboard the USS Cheyenne as an electronics technician (navigation). The Cheyenne, which was commissioned at Newport News, Virginia, in 1996, is one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines. It is homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

Overley credited his success in the Navy to many of the lessons learned in Lansing.

“My hometown taught me the value of hard work,” Overley said. “I took that lesson with me to the Navy, and it has helped me excel in my career.”

In his role as a Navy electronics technician, Overley is responsible for the safe navigation of the submarine as well as the operation and maintenance of critical communications systems, according to a news release from the Cheyenne.

About 130 sailors 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.

The Cheyenne holds the distinction of being the first ship to launch Tomahawk missiles in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the coalition invasion of Iraq to end Ṣaddām Ḥussein’s reign. The Cheyenne would go on to successfully launch her entire complement of Tomahawks during the conflict, which began in 2003 and ended with the withdrawal of a majority of U.S. armed forces in 2009.

Because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are among the most highly trained Navy service members, according to the Navy website, based largely on the premise that all submariners must be able to complete a diverse range of operational tasks and responsibilities aboard a ship.

Training includes learning in electrical, chemical, sonar operation, repairs, systems and operations maintenance, weaponry, navigation, cooking, and supply roles.

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community and career, Overley said he is most proud of contributing to the missions his ship and its crew is tasked with accomplishing.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet is the world’s largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles, nearly half the Earth’s surface, from Antarctica to the Arctic Circle and from the West Coast of the United States into the Indian Ocean.

Military service is a continuing tradition in Overley’s family, and the Lansing man said he is honored to carry out that family tradition, according to the news release.

 “My grandfather was in the Army, my uncle was a Marine and my cousin is in the Air Force,” Overley noted. “While their service did not directly influence my decision to serve, it is a connection we all have with each other.”

As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Overley and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.

“The camaraderie is the best thing about serving on a submarine. Living in such close quarters with so few amenities for such a long time, you really get to know people,” Overley explained. “I spend more time with my shipmates than I do my family. It’s a close bond that you can’t really explain.

“I have traveled the world and got to experience other cultures firsthand,” he added. “Our ship is homeported in Hawaii, and I feel that after experiencing the adventure of submarining and seeing new parts of the world, I have grown as a person. It is an honor to serve my country in this way.”

USS Cheyenne was the final Los Angeles–class submarine built. Following the construction of USS Cheyenne, the Navy began construction of Virginia-class submarines.

 

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