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Bonsall native serving aboard nuclear-powered submarine

Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR – Lt. j.g. Casey Burgener, a Bonsall native and 2000 Rancho Buena Vista High School graduate, is serving in the U.S. Navy aboard one of the Navy’s newest attack submarines, USS North Carolina.

Burgener is the assistant operations officer aboard the Pearl Harbor-based boat, one of only 12 Virginia-class attack submarines in the Navy’s fleet. The Virginia class is comprised of the Navy’s newest and most advanced subs.

Burgener’s responsibilities include being the ship’s reactor control assistant as well as assistant operations officer.

“Serving aboard this sub is one of the most unique experiences I have ever had,” said Burgener.

With a crew of 130, this submarine is 377 feet long and weighs approximately 7,800 tons. A nuclear-powered propulsion system helps push the submarine through the water at more than 25 mph.

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.

“Submarine sailors never cease to amaze me with their ability to complete complex missions in the world’s most challenging environments,” said Rear Adm. Fritz Roegge, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. “Continued U.S. undersea superiority is not possible without their dedication, expertise and professionalism.”

According to Navy officials, because of the demanding environment aboard submarines, personnel are accepted only after rigorous testing and observation. Submariners are some of the most highly trained and skilled people in the Navy. The training is highly technical, and each crew has to be able to operate, maintain, and repair every system or piece of equipment on board.

Regardless of their specialty, everyone also has to learn how everything on the ship works and how to respond in emergencies to become “qualified in submarines” and earn the right to wear the coveted gold or silver dolphins on their uniform.

“Serving here gives me a great sense of accomplishment,” said Burgener. “I’m doing something that really matters for my country.”

Challenging submarine living conditions actually build strong fellowship among the elite crew, Navy officials explained. The crews are highly motivated, and quickly adapt to changing conditions. It is a busy life of specialized work, watches, and drills.

“To me, the Navy means being part of something bigger than myself,” said Burgener.


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