PEARL HARBOR — A York County native and 2014 Red Lion grad is serving aboard the USS Hawaii, one of the U.S. Navy’s newest attack submarines, according to a press release issued by the Navy’s Office of Community Outreach.
Petty Officer 2nd Class David Kirkland serves as a machinist’s mate on the submarine, one of 56 fast-attack vessels in the Navy’s fleet. Kirkland is responsible for working with hydraulics, making air and oxygen for the vessel, and monitoring carbon monoxide and dioxide.
“I was taught to never give up,” Kirkland told the Office of Community Outreach. “With the Navy, if tasks start to get hectic, you have to keep that mindset to get the job done. When we get underway, we have to have to mindset to not give up, so we can all get home safely.”
The submarine’s crew is made up of 130 men and women who are responsible for everything from handling weapons to maintaining nuclear reactors. Attack submarines are designed to hunt down and destroy enemy vessels, strike targets ashore with cruise missles, 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 underwater for long periods of time, the Navy says.
“Our submarine teams are small, elite, and rely heavily on extraordinary individual performance,” said Rear Admiral Daryl L. Caudle, commander of submarine forces in the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “It is no surprise that our sailors continue to set the standard for excellence, and the country continues to be well-served by their service and sacrifice. I couldn’t be more proud to lead this professional fighting force.”
According to Navy officials, sailors are only accepted for work on submarines after undergoing rigorous testing and observation, due to the demanding nature of the environment. Submariners are some of the most highly skilled and highly trained people in the Navy. To become qualified in submarines and to earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform, crew members must learn how everything on the ship works, and how to respond in emergencies.
Becoming a submariner is already a big accomplishment, but Kirkland is also proud of earning a Navy Achievement Award for specialized testing during the boat’s shipyard phase.
“It feels good when you get recognized because it shows you that your leadership is paying attention to the hard work we do everyday,” said Kirkland.
Kirkland also has military ties with family members who have previously served and is honored to carry on the family tradition.
“My uncle was in the Marines,” said Kirkland. “I watched how he worked growing up. He was always a hard worker. He taught everyone discipline and he really influenced my decision to join the Navy.”