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Hancock County News

Greenfield native serves as a member of U.S. Navy's submarine force

A Greenfield, Indiana, native is stationed at Naval Base Kitsap (NBK), homeport to west coast ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines.


Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Whitley

Petty Officer 1st Class James Welling joined the Navy for the opportunities it provides. Today, Welling serves as a fire control technician.

“Joining the Navy was an opportunity for a change and a way to enhance my life in a positive way,” said Welling.

Welling attended Greenfield Central High School and graduated in 2005. Today, Welling uses skills and values similar to those found in Greenfield to succeed in the Navy.

“One of the big takeaways from growing up in a small town, is the sense of community and the ability to build strong relationships where you can rely on your neighbor,” said Welling.

These lessons have helped Welling while serving at Trident Training Facility.

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 Virginia-class SSN is the most advanced submarine in the world today. It combines stealth and payload capability to meet Combatant Commanders’ demands in this era of strategic competition.

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. SSBNs are designed specifically for stealth, extended patrols and the precise delivery of missiles. The Columbia-class SSBN will be the largest, most capable and most advanced submarine produced by the U.S. - replacing the current Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines to ensure continuous sea-based strategic deterrence into the 2080s.

Guided-missile submarines provide the Navy with unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform. Each SSGN is capable of carrying 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, plus a complement of heavyweight torpedoes to be fired through four torpedo tubes.

Strategic deterrence is the nation’s ultimate insurance program, according to Navy officials. As a member of the submarine force, Welling is part of a rich 122-year history of the U.S. Navy’s most versatile weapons platform, capable of taking the fight to the enemy in the defense of America and its allies.

Serving in the Navy means Welling is part of a team that is taking on new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the National Defense Strategy.

With more than 90 percent of all trade traveling by sea, and 95 percent of the world’s international phone and internet traffic carried through underwater fiber optic, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity and security of the United States is directly linked to a strong and ready Navy.

A major component of that maritime security is homeported at Naval Submarine Base Bangor.

Strategic deterrence is the nation’s ultimate insurance program, and for decades Naval Submarine Base Bangor has been home to Ohio Class ballistic-missile submarines. Beginning in 2028, the new Columbia Class ballistic-missile submarines will arrive and provide continuous sea-based strategic deterrence into the 2080s.

Welling and the sailors they serve with have many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during their military service.

“My proudest Navy accomplishment is leading and mentoring junior sailors during my last deployment, while serving as a leading petty officer,” said Welling. “Some of the sailors have reached out to me and thanked me for getting them through that experience. It makes me proud knowing that I was able to help them through that time in their lives.”

As Welling and other sailors continue to train and perform the missions they are tasked with, they take pride in serving their country in the United States Navy.

“Serving in the military has given my family and I a way to see the world,” added Welling. “I have been able to introduce our kids to a lot of different environments. We look at every homeport as an extended vacation. It forces you to get out on adventures and enjoy your time.”