PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Modern attack submarines are the most technologically advanced and capable undersea warfighters in the world. Operating these highly complex submarines requires sailors from the U.S. Navy’s submarine community, also known as the “Silent Service.”
Senior Chief Petty Officer Steven Bunner, a 1997 Lehman Catholic High School graduate and native of Sidney, has served for 21 years and works as a Navy information systems technician, serving aboard one of the world’s most advanced nuclear-powered submarines, USS Charlotte, homeported at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
As a Navy information systems technician, Bunner is responsible for unclassified and classified information systems.
Bunner credits success in the Navy to many of the lessons he learned in Sidney.
“I was taught the importance of hard work, determination and caring for others,” said Bunner.
Jobs are highly varied aboard the submarine. Approximately 130 sailors make up the submarine’s crew, doing everything from handling weapons to maintaining nuclear reactors.
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.
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. Regardless of his specialty, everyone 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 his uniform.
Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their commands, communities and careers, Bunner is most proud of being promoted to chief petty officer in 2013.
“Being a chief petty officer opens a whole new world, being able to get the job done, mentor sailors and make a real impression on people,” said Bunner.
Being stationed in Pearl Harbor, often referred to as the gateway to the Pacific in defense circles, means Bunner is serving in a part of the world taking on a new importance in America’s focus on rebuilding military readiness, strengthening alliances and reforming business practices in support of the national defense strategy.
“Our priorities center on people, capabilities and processes and will be achieved by our focus on speed, value, results and partnerships,” said Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer. “Readiness, lethality and modernization are the requirements driving these priorities.”
The Navy has been pivotal in helping maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region for decades. The Pacific is home to more than 50 percent of the world’s population, many of the world’s largest and smallest economies, several of the world’s largest militaries and many U.S. allies.
Serving in the Navy is a continuing tradition of military service for Bunner, who has military ties with family members who have previously served. Bunner is honored to carry on that family tradition.
“Two uncles served: one in the Navy and one in the Army, and one grandfather in the Army, but they did not really have an impact on me to join the miltiary,” said Bunner. “I chose to join the military because I did not want to go to college at that time, so I chose to join the military. If felt that if I liked it, I would stay in but if I didn’t, at least I had some training and could determine a path forward.”
As a member of one of the U.S. Navy’s most relied-upon assets, Bunner and other sailors know they are part of a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes, one that will provide a critical component of the Navy the nation needs.
“Serving in the Navy means service to more than just yourself. It’s being part of something bigger and able to accomplish goals not for myself but the country,” added Bunner. “It means helping people during community relations projects we participate in when we deploy and assisting with bigger things than ourselves.”