A Skidmore native is serving aboard USS West Virginia, one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Vincent Flores, a 2017 Skidmore-Tynan High School graduate, joined the U.S. Navy four years ago.
Today, Flores serves as a missile technician, whose responsibilities include maintaining security and upkeep of missiles on submarines to ensure nuclear deterrence.
“I originally joined the Navy for educational opportunities, but now I want to make it a career because I love my job,” said Flores. “Further down my career, I would like to become a limited duty officer or chief warrant officer.”
According to Flores, the values required to succeed in the military are similar to those found in Skidmore.
“I learned from my hometown that hard work and a good work ethic gets you a long way,” said Flores.
Known as America’s “Silent Service,” 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 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.
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. As a member of the submarine force, Flores is part of a rich 121-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 Flores 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.
“The Navy contributes to national security by always being there and not being knocked over when pushed,” said Flores.
With more than 90% of all trade traveling by sea, and 95% 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 Kings Bay.
“We do two big things here in King’s Bay: we send SSBNs on Strategic Deterrence Patrols and we forward deploy our guided missile submarines overseas,” said Rear Adm. John Spencer, Commander, Submarine Group 10. “This work is essential to uphold the No. 1 mission of the Navy: strategic deterrence. And this is the only home port for both of these types of submarines on the East Coast.”
Strategic deterrence is the Nation’s ultimate insurance program, and for decades, Kings Bay has been home to Ohio Class SSBN 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.
As Flores 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 Navy means I get to fight for the person fighting next to me,” added Flores.