ABOARD USS CALIFORNIA (WSVN) — 7News got an in-depth look inside one of the Navy’s most powerful weapons participating in South Florida’s Fleet Week.
The annual show of military might kicked off, Monday. 7News joined the crew of the USS California as the hatch was closed, and the submarine dove into the Atlantic off South Florida.
Once under water, the crew of the nuclear attack submarine trained by simulating scenarios that would be used during war. They practiced in techniques like quickly diving hundreds of feet and then back to the surface, known as "angles and dangles."
The submarine’s crew uses these dives and rises to get to the bottom or the surface in an emergency. The preparation is to ready the California for a six-month deployment later this year off Europe.
"There’s personnel on watch around the clock," said USS California Cmdr. Eric Sager. "We exercise the ship and ourselves to be prepared for every possible mission."
The sub is armed with Tomahawk missiles, 20 torpedoes and carries a crew of about 132.
The space is tight, the walls are narrow and sleeping racks are about two feet high. Water and air is made aboard. The sub can stay submerged for at least three months at a time. Because the California operates in secret, there is no Internet or email on board.
The only thing that requires the crew to go back to the surface is food. "It’s called the ‘silent service’ for a reason," said USS California Petty Officer Russell Blackstock. "You’re kind of in the shadows all the time, but we do appreciate the support that we do get."
Once the crew deploys, they remain in the depths of Europe for months and are ready to answer freedom’s call. "The crew takes a lot of pride in what they do," Sager said. "The crew is excited to be out here serving their country. The crew is excited to be out here defending freedom."